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Long IslandColumnistsJoye Brown

When it comes to speed cameras, Garden City says it’s not Nassau

Nassau’s speed camera program quickly proved to be a revenue-producing leviathan for a county that for more than a decade generated more expenses than it did revenue.

Garden City is considering installing speed cameras on

Garden City is considering installing speed cameras on some village roads. Photo Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

Not so fast.

And, in this instance, Garden City Mayor Brian Daughney is not talking about drivers who barrel through the village. Instead, the mayor is directing his attention toward two state lawmakers for using Nassau’s experience with speed cameras as a reason for remaining silent on the village’s request for permission to install its own speed cameras.

“We’ve sent a letter and a resolution and we’ve heard nothing but silence,” Daughney said in an interview Monday.

Still, Daughney has some inkling of state Sen. Kemp Hannon’s (R-Garden City) and Assemb. Ed Ra’s (R-Franklin Square) thinking on the matter.

“I read it in Newsday,” he said.

In the report, Hannon and Ra said they were reviewing the village’s request. But Hannon noted that because of Nassau’s tortured rollout of its speed camera program in 2014, “I don’t know if people would support it.”

Ra mentioned the county’s issues, too. “I am fully cognizant of the problems Nassau County experienced,” he said.

But what, Daughney wants to know, does Nassau’s fiasco of a program have to do with Garden City’s request, or the way the village would handle its cameras?

In 2014, Nassau’s speed camera program quickly proved to be a revenue-producing leviathan for a county that for more than a decade generated more expenses than it did revenue.

The cameras, placed near schools, generated more than 400,000 tickets — and a quick $24 million infusion of new revenue — from September to November.

The cameras initially were put into place in July, with no public notification. And by August, then-County Executive Edward Mangano had to dismiss almost $2.5 million in tickets because of problems. By November — as public complaints about cameras operating in school zones when school was not in session and at locations lacking required signage became a political liability — the Republican majority in the Nassau Legislature ended the program.

And it’s been political kryptonite since — as County Executive Laura Curran, a Democrat, learned when she broached the subject at a meeting with GOP lawmakers, only to quickly clarify later that she had no intention of bringing speed cameras back.

Daughney is quick to point out, however, that Garden City is not Nassau County.

“We don’t need this money,” he said. “This is about saving money,” he said, by freeing village police officers — who, he said, can earn up to $150,000 after a few years — to do work other than issuing speeding tickets.

“New technology has drivers change their behavior and that will leave police to do what residents want them to do, patrol the neighborhoods,” he said.

In addition, he said, the village intends to roll out its program with plentiful advance public notice, with large signs and with announcements on the village website. “Whoever speeds in the village, whether you live in the village or outside of the village, would get a ticket,” he said.

And what if more time passes until Daughney receives a formal answer from state lawmakers — some of whom initially agreed to let Nassau put its speed cameras in place?

“I’m an optimist,” said Daughney, who has asked residents to send letters to Hannon and Ra in support of the village’s effort. “I tend to believe that people will do the right thing.”

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