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Meeting to focus on Main St. in Smithtown

The Main Street and Lawrence Avenue intersection in

The Main Street and Lawrence Avenue intersection in Smithtown. (Mach 2, 2011) Credit: Jon Premosch

State transportation officials have invited a select group of elected officials and community leaders to a meeting next month at which they will review proposals to improve safety on Main Street in downtown Smithtown.

The Dec. 15 meeting at the state office building in Hauppauge will be the first major discussion of Main Street since August, when state authorities showed Smithtown leaders two proposals they said could reduce accidents on the road, state Routes 25 and 25A.

Local officials panned one of the proposals -- to turn a six-block stretch of Main Street into a one-way road. The other, to reduce Main Street from four lanes to three, received mixed reviews.

The December meeting is not open to the public and news media, said Eileen Peters, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation.

Those invited are "a limited group of stakeholders," including local, state and federal elected officials, members of the Greater Smithtown Chamber of Commerce, civic organizations and community members, Peters said.

"[DOT officials] will discuss with the stakeholders what we have found in looking into the issues and alternatives more closely, and will outline what the implications of the alternatives are," Peters said.

Three pedestrians have been killed by vehicles in the past two years on Main Street. Courtney Sipes, 11, of Smithtown, was killed Nov. 24, 2009; Charles Doonan, 65, of Flushing, died in August 2010, seven months after he was struck; and Seamus Byrne, 33, of Smithtown, was killed Feb. 27.

Suffolk County Legis. John Kennedy (R-Nesconset) said Main Street needs a major overhaul to avoid tragedies.

"I'm happy that they're doing the process, but there's got to be some outcome to the process," said Kennedy, who was invited to the December meeting. "One thing we all agree on is there has to be something other than, 'This is what it is and this is what it's going to be.' "

Kennedy said the fatalities have hurt Smithtown's reputation, making businesses reluctant to open stores there. Improvements such as a raised center median, turn lanes and tire rumbles could save lives and bring shoppers back to Smithtown's business district, he said.

"I just feel that we're going to continue to have difficulty promoting our downtown as a pedestrian-friendly kind of environment until we get some kind of accommodation like that," Kennedy said.

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