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Commack residents: Townline Road project a 'Band-Aid'

Bob Semprini, left, and Bruce Ettenberg, both of

Bob Semprini, left, and Bruce Ettenberg, both of the Commack Community Association, stand near the North Ridge Primary School on Townline Road, which they say is too narrow for the heavy truck traffic. (Nov. 4, 2013) Credit: Steve Pfost

A Commack civic association is calling the paving of Townline Road a "Band-Aid" that does not address concerns that the road isn't fit for the commercial trucks that barrel up and down it daily and threaten schoolchildren.

"The road will once again be in terrible condition," said Bruce Ettenberg, president of the Commack Community Association, suggesting that truck traffic will wear it down.

Bob Semprini, the association's safety and environmental chairman, said the two-lane road is too narrow and does not fit the criteria to be a county road.

The 6-mile road on the Huntington-Smithtown border has been the subject of debate for years. A lawsuit settled between Huntington and Suffolk County in 2010 designated it as a county roadway, officials said.

The town had sued because officials believed the road was the county's responsibility, not a town road -- as it was designated before the suit.

The county paved about half of the road, also known as Route 4, several months ago, at a cost of about $800,000, officials said.

County spokeswoman Vanessa Baird-Streeter said the county needed to complete the paving and other repairs. And officials are evaluating "how to ensure public safety in the corridor, as well as the road's ability to provide the capacity needed as a highway."

The east side of Townline Road is in Smithtown, and the west in Huntington. Trucks, including eighteen-wheelers, use the road to go to an industrial park and the towns' resource recovery center.

Ettenberg said residents have safety concerns, because Commack High School and an elementary school are on the road. They are also concerned because more than 100 homes are on Townline Road, "close enough to the road that when trucks go up and down, the house actually rattles."

Smithtown officials are trying to reduce the number of trucks using the road. Town planning director Frank DeRubeis said the town has received a few applications for new development in that area, and as a caveat, is exploring mandating the use of Indian Head Road, instead of Townline Road.

"We understand the issue regarding the use of trucks in the area," DeRubeis said.

Baird-Streeter said the towns have the right to regulate traffic on the road -- something Huntington has not decided to do.

Huntington spokesman A.J. Carter said that since Townline Road is a county road, Huntington officials believe "it is the county's responsibility to deal with it."

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