Judy Cartwright writes the Community Watchdog column
The prospect of crossing Route 110 on foot is a daunting one. But every school morning, dozens of students do just that to get to Edmund W. Miles Middle School in North Amityville.
A crosswalk extends across 110, which is known as Broadway south of Great Neck Road, at North Drive. The intersection has a traffic signal with a 22-second pedestrian countdown, and crossing guard Sandra Nappo presides there before and after school.
Nappo contacted Watchdog with her concerns that the intersection isn't as safe as it should be.
"Many drivers blatantly go through the red light and many times I've had to hold the kids back," she said.
Here's what Nappo and the children deal with: A posted speed limit of 40 mph and trucks blocking the view of oncoming traffic when they park to make deliveries to nearby shops. On a recent morning, as one truck parked near the crosswalk, Nappo kept the children out of the crosswalk until she could venture far enough into the street to make sure no drivers were threatening their path.
The school is a few blocks east of Broadway. The west side of the road is occupied by shops -- a convenience grocery, small restaurant and coin-operated laundry -- and Nappo pointed out that drivers don't always wait for a green light before making a right turn into those parking lots.
She's concerned that drivers in such a hurry aren't taking the time to look around to see whether children are approaching and asked if a No Turn on Red sign would be possible.
Watchdog posed the situation to the state Department of Transportation, which acted quickly.
"NYSDOT Traffic engineers immediately reviewed this location and determined that a No Turn on Red restriction would help maintain the safety of the school children, pedestrians and motorists," department spokeswoman Eileen Peters said in a statement.
Nappo is hopeful the new sign will help but she's holding out hope for a tougher approach: a red-light camera.
Watchdog hears so many complaints about the cameras that she was stunned to hear a pitch in their favor. As Suffolk County decides where to put the next round of 50, consideration is given to a location's crash history. Seven accidents were reported in the vicinity of Broadway and North Drive in the 12 months ending Aug. 31, according to Suffolk County police, which might not be sufficient to get a camera.
But let's agree it's seven too many in an area where children must cross a very busy road to get to school.
Weekend handicapped parking restored
When handicapped parking spaces disappeared from the main entrance of Nassau University Medical Center, Mary McGinnis was disheartened.
She had counted on the handful of spaces on the traffic circle at that entrance, on the Carman Avenue side of the building, for days when she and her husband attend Mass in the hospital's auditorium just inside the entrance. McGinnis, who lives in Bethpage, said she has been a regular at the Saturday Mass for 30 years.
But when she arrived one Saturday, the spaces were marked Valet Parking. And a security guard told her she could no longer park there.
Asked about the change, hospital spokeswoman Shelley Lotenberg said the handicapped parking spaces were relocated for safety. The old arrangement had not provided enough space "for a handicapped person to safely exit, with taxis, deliveries, people getting dropped off, etc.," she said in an email. "The traffic circle would get clogged up and it just was not safe for the handicapped, according to our security officers."
But McGinnis said the new handicapped parking location, on the hospital's lower level on the Hempstead Turnpike side, meant it could take as long as 20 minutes to reach the auditorium.
"We would have to walk three times the distance again to get to this room," she said. "It's so far away from where we're going."
It was so discouraging that other regulars at the Saturday Mass told her they would stop attending.
That's when she sought Watchdog's help. We contacted Lotenberg, who consulted with security staff and reported that the medical center would restore the former parking arrangement specifically for attendance at weekend Mass.
That entrance isn't busy on weekends, she said, so people attending Mass "will not have to encounter patients being dropped off for outpatient centers or taxis picking up patients." Vehicles will need to display a handicap parking tag, she said.
McGinnis reports that the next time she attended Saturday Mass, she was able to park close to the entrance with no problem.
Anyone looking for handicapped parking can find 30 three-hour spaces on the lower level, Lotenberg said, and another 30 in the visitor lot near the Carman Avenue entrance. Those are about 30 feet from the traffic circle, she said.