Judy Cartwright writes the Community Watchdog column
We have a problem at the corner of North Ronald Drive and Route 110 in North Amityville. People have difficulty getting out of the street, and it's caused several accidents.
-- Lois Thomas, North Amityville
The problem, Thomas told us, stems from the way drivers line up when they exit North Ronald Drive: They split into two lanes, even though the outbound side of the roadway isn't divided into two lanes.
And their instincts about how to line up don't always sync up with the instincts of drivers next to them. The result: Cars can get in each other's way.
Here's the scene: Drivers leaving North Ronald can make only right turns into the northbound lanes of 110. Each driver has three choices: Turning into the first lane of 110, the second lane or crossing both to reach a left turn lane. That lane also permits U turns, the option for anyone who wants to head south.
As Thomas pointed out, that arrangement can create a mess. Suffolk County police have reports of 15 crashes at North Ronald and Route 110 in the past four years.
That's where Thomas and neighbors Rudy and Lenora Bryant come in. In an effort to impose order on the traffic chaos, they asked the town to divide outgoing North Ronald into two designated lanes so drivers could follow directional arrows into the appropriate lanes of Route 110.
Babylon Town told us that though North Ronald Drive is a town street, the decision isn't up to the town. Instead, because that section of roadway is within 50 feet of a state road (Route 110), the decision belongs to the state. State Department of Transportation spokeswoman Eileen Peters told us the request has been forwarded to the department's traffic safety engineers.
The street exit isn't the only traffic problem on North Ronald: Thomas and the Bryants have also asked for speed bumps or rumble strips in hopes of slowing speeders.
They're not the first Long Islanders to ask Watchdog if such tactics can be deployed in their neighborhoods. But, once again, the measures appear unlikely: Speed bumps are discouraged, in part because icy winter conditions can persist around them to create a new hazard, Babylon's Traffic Safety Division told us. And though rumble strips have been installed to slow traffic near schools, the town has kept them out of residential areas because the noise they produce can be significant.
As for the turn lanes: We're waiting to hear from the state. Stay tuned.
The creek next to West Islip High School is filled with garbage, and we've been trying to get something done about it. It's littered with shopping carts, tires, just about everything.
-- Helen Feigel, West Islip
The creek in question is Willetts Creek, named for two brothers who in the late 1600s purchased land that would become known as West Islip. Of late, the creek has not been doing the name proud.
We joined Feigel in the spring for a trek along a section south of Union Boulevard, behind the high school. The appearance of the creek bed and banks was in stark contrast to the unblemished landscape in photos Feigel took years earlier.
She told us the creek had undergone occasional cleanups, a practice that ended several years ago. Debris has accumulated since then and some junctures resembled a dumping ground: Unwanted items ranged from empty milk jugs to wooden pallets, even a desk chair.
Islip Town does not maintain the creek in that area, spokeswoman Inez Birbiglia told us. The town is responsible only for the creek bed south of Montauk Highway, she said, where it is designated by a county tax number and belongs to the town.
But north of Montauk Highway, the responsibility lies with owners of properties along the creek, she said. "The centerline of the creek serves as a boundary for the parcels adjacent to the creek," she wrote in an email.
The land on the west side of the creek belongs to the West Islip School District, Birbiglia said.
The school district's Office of Buildings and Grounds has consulted with the town about the mess, district spokeswoman Patricia Denniger said recently, and the debris will be removed. She didn't specify which entity would undertake the work.
This creek is not a stranger to the need for cleanups. Many years ago the creek, and Capri Lake to the south, were dredged for toxic sediments left by hazardous waste runoff from a nearby factory.