Judy Cartwright writes the Community Watchdog column
Winding streets have been a popular hallmark of housing developments, the curves valued for their promise of quiet -- no drag racing on these streets -- and the likelihood that drivers coming and going would be neighbors.
But many are not so quiet now as they've taken on a new identity -- as cut-throughs that let drivers avoid major intersections. That's the case in American's iconic first suburb.
"Levittown was built for horse and buggy" traffic, said Patrick Vaughan, who has lived on Forge Lane since his family moved there in 1956.
The volume of traffic on his street has grown, Vaughan said, as drivers use it to bypass the intersection at Hempstead Turnpike and Wantagh Avenue. His primary concern is the speed of some cars coupled with the sharp curve on Forge.
Cars that have failed to negotiate the curve have landed in the yards of three homes, he said and showed photos of the damaged trees and fences.
So he asked Hempstead Town to install a stop sign for eastbound traffic approaching the curve, a tactic he concedes "would not be 100 percent foolproof," but could nevertheless help. His efforts follow an earlier, unsuccessful attempt to have Forge Lane designated one-way.
The town has taken steps to slow traffic: In recent years, signs have been posted warning that a curve is ahead and advising drivers to slow to 10 mph.
But a stop sign? We asked the town.
"A stop sign in our opinion is not indicated," town spokesman Michael Deery told Watchdog, citing the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices, the standard for traffic signs and signals in the United States. The manual says stop signs should not be used for speed control. Warning signs and traffic enforcement are used to keep speed under control, Deery said.
Vaughan fears the town isn't taking safety into account and points out that a street with a similar design a couple of miles away has a stop sign at the curve. The circumstances leading to that sign, on Blacksmith Road, "may have been different," Deery said, restating that a stop sign "is not an adequate measure to control speed." At one household near that sign, residents said they had no idea how it came to be installed there. Calls to other nearby residents were not returned.
"We do a lot of stop signs, so it's not as if we're averse to them," Deery said. "But our traffic control division doesn't feel that it's indicated" for Forge Lane.
Even as Levittown's horse and buggy days are history, Vaughan says current conditions on his street qualify it as "the Long Island speedway." As for keeping his family safe: He tells them to stay out of the front yard.
EMERGENCY SHELTERS EQUIPPED TO HELP THE DISABLED, TOO
Here's one of the questions that came this way in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy: Can shelters meet the needs of people with disabilities or chronic health concerns?
"I need to know if there are going to be caregivers to help people like me," said Ann Fontana of Commack, who is paralyzed from the waist down.
"There are a lot of accommodations for people with disabilities," Foster said, including medical staff, special equipment and hospital beds.
"If a person comes to a shelter and we find their medical condition is beyond our ability to manage, we'll find a place for them," she said. "If somebody needs more care than can be provided, then we'll get a referral to get the person to the right place."
The decision to seek shelter is especially tough for the physically vulnerable, she said: "Nobody wants to be in a shelter -- it's not exactly joy to the world -- but it's better than being in a place without power," which can be essential for people who rely on medical devices.
Fontana said she stayed at her home: "I happened to be lucky. A neighbor had power, so we ran a line across" to connect to a power source during the 11 days before electrical power was restored.
Like many of us, she's concerned there will be a next time. And people with disabilities will need "a place to go to with caregivers, nurses, whatever," she said, "people who are aware of our lives."