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'Suicide Hill': For sledders, it's no longer all downhill

Sherry Klein stands beside a "no trespassing" sign

Sherry Klein stands beside a "no trespassing" sign on the property of the Plandome Country Club near her Port Washington home. (Jan. 9, 2014) Credit: Barry Sloan

Residents who live near the Plandome Country Club in Plandome Manor hope that "Suicide Hill" will soon be nothing more than a memory.

Winter sledders have flocked to the hill on the club property for years, leaving nearby residents concerned about safety and traffic in the surrounding neighborhood.

The Town of North Hempstead in April considered enacting winter parking restrictions in the neighborhood in the hopes of driving the sledders out. But that plan was met with opposition by area residents, who were concerned about their ability to park on their own streets in the winter.

Instead, residents petitioned the Town of North Hempstead to help curtail sledders on the country club's property.

Fencing and "No Trespassing" signs have gone up on the property, said Sherry Klein, vice president of the homeowners' association.

And it appears to be working, residents said.

"This is a tradition that's gone on for many years in Port Washington," Michael Scotto, president of the Manhasset Bay Estates Association, which backs up to the country club, said of the sledding.

But as word spread about the hill's attractions, especially online, sledders from outside the area started packing the neighborhood on snowy days, he said.

Councilwoman Dina De Giorgio, who represents the area, said she had been working with the Plandome Country Club to stop sledding on their property.

Instead of the thousands of sledders usually at the country club after a snowfall, this month's first significant accumulation saw only a handful, according to De Giorgio and several residents.

"They did an excellent job deterring the sledding," De Giorgio said.

A man who answered the phone at the Plandome Country Club and identified himself only as the manager, said that the club did not permit sled riding on its property, calling it trespassing.

Amherst Road resident Brian Tartell said one year he took his young daughter to sled there, but quickly changed his mind once he saw how dangerous it could be and when he realized he was trespassing.

"My first concern is the safety of children," said Tartell, noting that there have been sledding accidents on the site, including a serious one in February.

Tartell said he saw a few sled tracks in the area after this month's big snowfall, but nowhere near as many as usual.

"There were many fewer people," Tartell said.

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