A pedestrian walks along Deer Park Avenue near North Babylon High...

A pedestrian walks along Deer Park Avenue near North Babylon High School on Saturday. Credit: Linda Rosier

The Town of Babylon has taken its first step toward improving pedestrian safety along a main thoroughfare in North Babylon.

The town last month conducted two "walk audits" of a section of Deer Park Avenue in hopes of revitalizing the area. The focus is on the roughly mile-long corridor between Strathmore Drive and Sunrise Highway.

"We want to make sure it’s a more pedestrian-friendly and safer and economically vibrant corridor," said Marwa Fawaz, the town’s comprehensive planning and downtown revitalization coordinator.

The area includes two schools, a library, and several apartment and condominium complexes, as well as numerous businesses.

"There’s quite a bit of activity and potential to make the corridor safer and better for the existing residents as well as bringing in some new businesses," Fawaz said. "It’s always been one of those areas on our radar."

The town is being helped by Babylon Village-based Greenman-Pedersen Inc., which is doing the work pro bono. Frank Wefering, the company’s director of sustainability, said Greenman-Pedersen did so because it believes in "giving back" and helping to support any revitalization efforts in the town.

The company recently did an extensive walkability study for Lindenhurst Village. Wefering said the North Babylon work will be similar but smaller in scale. He said walk audits, where residents get to experience being a pedestrian, are an important part of the process.

"When you walk, you realize more than when you drive just how fast traffic is going," Wefering said.

The walks were concentrated on the area between Strathmore and Edmunton drives and divided into six sections, for which participants each had to fill out a survey with questions about things such as the condition of sidewalks and driver behavior.

The first audit was done by school administrators and employees, while the second was open to the general public. There were 22 participants for both walks, Wefering said. Though the number is "not enough for a statistical analysis, the value comes in the ideas and comments" from the participants.

The town will take the feedback, summarize it and then come up with a list of priorities, Fawaz said. They will then seek grants for the work and coordinate with the county, which owns the roadway.

While it's still early in the process, Fawaz said depending on the suggestions from the audits, the town could look to improve sidewalk conditions, lighting, crosswalks and add traffic-calming measures. They may also consider improvements to some of the side streets off of Deer Park Avenue, she said.

"We’re really going to have to study the feasibility of these things and see what are the impacts," she said.

Marc Horowitz, director of the North Babylon library that sits within the corridor, said improvements are needed in the area.

"Traffic on Deer Park Avenue is very heavy," he said, adding that the problem is "exacerbated at 2 p.m. when school lets out." Horowitz said the mix creates "adrenaline-charged, new drivers" with "kids on bicycles challenging the cars."

"It’s amazing that there aren’t more problems," he said.

DEER PARK AVENUE WALK AUDITS

Dates: June 17 and 29

Sections walked, south and north:

Strathmore Drive to Stone Avenue

Stone Avenue to Brookside Avenue

Brookside Avenue to Edmunton Drive

Topics asked about:

Sidewalks and street

Driver behavior

Walking experience

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