Smithtown Town Board members plan to purchase a roughly 4,000-square-foot parcel near the Nesconset Fire Department to improve a busy intersection and help first responders better negotiate a sharp turn there.
The board voted unanimously, 5-0, on Tuesday to purchase a 4,004-square-foot northerly portion of 99 Lake Avenue South from property owner 99 Lake Avenue LLC.
Smithtown officials said the town negotiated the purchase price at about $15,000, after some town board members considered obtaining the property through eminent domain in 2013.
Owning the property would allow the town to reconfigure the intersection at Lake Avenue and Gibbs Pond Road, moving it about 100 feet south of its current location, town officials have said. That would create a safer road for motorists who face a blind curve and allow the fire department -- at 25 Gibbs Pond Rd. -- to more easily maneuver its large vehicles, officials said.
"It's a very dangerous corner because there's limited sight," said Commissioner James Goelz, who is on the Nesconset Fire District's board of fire commissioners. "There's a garage and some trees blocking when you're trying to go north off of Lake Avenue at the intersection of Gibbs Pond Road."
Firefighters have to make a right onto Gibbs Pond Road and almost a U-turn in order to respond to calls south of the firehouse, Goelz said. With the plans, he said, "We're hoping we'll be able to pull straight out of the firehouse to get on Lake Avenue."
Smithtown Councilman Thomas McCarthy, who has been working closely with the fire district on the proposal, said "it's a win for the community as a whole, because the fire department can respond faster and it makes an unsafe intersection safe."
Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio also said the intersection presents safety issues. "By purchasing the property and making the intersection easier to negotiate for the fire department, it makes the intersection safer," he said.
Goelz also said the change would help the fire department respond faster to calls, adding, "sometimes seconds count."
McCarthy said the next step is for the town's engineering and traffic safety departments to create design specifications for the intersection and bid out the plan. He estimates construction could begin in mid-spring.