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Patchogue cracks down on idling vehicles, including its own fleet

In an effort to decrease air pollution, Patchogue

In an effort to decrease air pollution, Patchogue won't allow vehicles to idle longer than 10 minutes. A view of downtown at Main Street at South Ocean Avenue on Tuesday. Credit: James Carbone

Patchogue officials are cracking down on idling vehicles — even for its own fleet — in an effort to decrease air pollution.

The Patchogue Village board of trustees adopted a resolution prohibiting engine idling on any village-owned property for longer than 10 minutes.  That would include vehicles at Village Hall and at the Mascot Dock & Marina.

Several residents sitting at the dock during their lunch breaks or watching sunsets contacted board members recently about having to inhale emissions from long-running vehicles.

"It stems from some complaints from people who were trying to enjoy some peaceful evenings, only to have the car next to them, or in front of them, idling, like forever,"  said trustee Joseph Keyes, who has been the board's leader on environmental issues.

 "The engine idling isn't good for the atmosphere, and it does become a nuisance for people who are trying to relax, otherwise," Keyes said. "Letting a car run for more than 10 minutes is a waste of fuel consumption."

The law, adopted last month, goes into effect later this month.  It will  allow exceptions for emergencies.

Village officials also established a policy requiring that municipal vehicles not idle for longer than 10 minutes.

"We just want to set some sort of standard to limit" fuel consumption, Keyes said.

That policy covers the building, highway and public safety departments. It also includes exemptions for emergencies and parades, village officials said.

"The problem is you'll have a guy out on a job and the vehicle will sit there running for 20 minutes," Mayor Paul Pontieri said. “It's wasting gas and wear and tear on the vehicle."

The mayor added: "It's a small thing, but that's what a village can do. We can take small things and turn them into bigger things.”

Patchogue resident Dennis Ross, 55, said he supports the restrictions despite not seeing many cars idling on village property and noting that more energy-efficient cars are on the road.

"I'm all for the environment and doing things right," Ross said, "but there's no idling problem in Patchogue."

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