More than 30 people turned out Tuesday night for a public information meeting about the future of the Sagtikos State Parkway and Sunken Meadow State Parkway, but several were disappointed that officials were only asking for their comments and not recommending any specific improvements.
"I thought you were going to tell us how you're going to fix this," Charisse Monroe of Deer Park told a worker who was answering the public's questions at Deer Park High School.
Monroe said it was extremely difficult to drive from her home on North Thompson Drive and get into traffic on Pine Aire Drive. "You should put a traffic light here," she said, pointing at the intersection depicted on one of the maps on display.
James Kielian, a civil engineer with the state Department of Transportation, persuaded her to fill out a comment card and submit it for consideration.
Eileen Peters, a spokeswoman for the Long Island region of DOT, said outside the meeting room that agency engineers would review comments taken Tuesday night and at another meeting Thursday night in Kings Park and make recommendations this fall on how to proceed.
The state has $3.4 million in its current budget to plan improvements to the 11-mile stretch of road between West Islip and Kings Park, and another $11 million in its 5-year plan for an environmental impact study. Because there is no plan yet on how to proceed, no dollar figure has been established for construction costs.
Supporters of the proposed Heartland Town Square on the grounds of Pilgrim State Hospital in Brentwood hope the roadway, now two lanes in each direction, will be expanded to three lanes in each direction, to handle the thousands of additional cars daily that would be added to area roads if the Heartland project is completed.
DOT officials outlined a number of problems that should be addressed regardless of the fate of the Heartland development. Placards and maps lining the meeting room listed short exit/entry ramps, low bridges, limited sight lines and other problems on the parkway.
Peters said the state wanted input from residents before making any decisions. "This is their parkway," she said. "We want to gather together all their information, to help us develop it and marry it with our engineering standards to make sure it's safe, and to make sure it meets environmental and developmental needs."
Linda Doukas of Dix Hills said she thought the state should address conditions on Commack Road. "There have been a number of accidents there. There were two accidents in just the past two weeks," Doukas said.
Linda Lavorata of Deer Park, who lives just off Commack Road, said she doubted any improvements would be made. "They've been proposing these things off and on for a number of years and nothing comes of it."