Babylon Village residents say speeding motorbikes and four-wheel all-terrain vehicles have turned the southern portion of Fire Island Avenue into a drag strip, and that young people are smoking marijuana in the municipal pool parking lot at the end of the street.
“You’ve got motorcycle gangs driving on sidewalks and lawns, people speeding and blowing stop signs,” said one neighbor, John Tibbetts, at a village board meeting last month. “There’s complete disrespect. . . . It’s getting out of control.”
About 10 residents at the meeting asked for increased law enforcement and speed bumps to slow drivers they said accelerate to more than twice the speed limit of 30 mph.
It appears they will get the law officers, from Suffolk County Police and Village Code Enforcement, but not the bumps, which village officials said could be an insurance liability.
“We’re going to take care of it,” said Inspector Mat Lewis, commanding officer of the SCPD’s First Precinct. “We are going to try and find the houses” where the all-terrain vehicles originate, “speak to the individuals who drive them and advise them of the applicable laws and ramifications.”
Street racing and riding an ATV on a public road are illegal in Suffolk and Nassau counties. Violators face fines and confiscation of their vehicle.
Police issued 32 summonses in 2015 for a variety of driving violations on Fire Island Avenue, and 10 through April 2016, the most recent month of available statistics. None were specific to ATV violations.
One resident who asked that her name be withheld because she feared retaliation from the speeders, said the worst culprits seemed to be a group of six or seven men in their 20s. Reckless driving seems to have increased with the warmer weather, she said.
“We thought this was a quiet neighborhood on the water,” she said. “If I had known any of this, we would not have purchased the house.”
In an interview last week, Lewis said uniformed and plainclothes officers will patrol the area, including the parking lot. “Any parking lot like that, especially down by the water, is prone to this type of activity,” he said.
A sector car that patrols most of the village will be augmented by the 11 “community support units” deployed to trouble spots throughout the precinct, he added. Additionally, the village will post an employee at the parking lot entrance for at least part of the day.
Lewis said speed bumps have discouraged illegal racing in other areas of the town, like Allen Boulevard in East Farmingdale. Village officials showed little interest in the idea, though, saying the speed bumps could put the village at risk of a lawsuit.
Mayor Ralph Scordino said in an interview this week that they would not be practical. “Where do you draw the line on which streets get these? Is the whole village going to get them?”
Even without the speed bumps, the village response was fast and decisive, he said. “We jumped all over it. . . . We had tremendous cooperation from the Suffolk County First Precinct and we started to make a noticeable improvement down there.”
Suffolk County ATV violations:
Jan-April 2016: 110
First Precinct ATV violations
Jan-April 2016: 5