Longtime Rockaway Avenue resident Michael Pisani believes the already hazardous conditions that exist near his home at the intersection of Merillon and Rockaway avenues have only been exacerbated by the new construction of a music hall addition at Garden City High School.
Pisani sent a letter to Nassau County and Village of Garden City officials in June, along with a petition in which 28 Rockaway Avenue residents signed, stating that traffic moves in excess of the posted school zone speed limit and often times in excess of the village speed limit. "There's nothing there to slow down that traffic," he told trustees Thursday.
When traveling south on Rockaway, motorists oftentimes roll through the Stop sign, startling northbound drivers forking left onto Merillon Avenue. Likewise, many motorists traveling north on Rockaway fail to signal left when merging onto Merillon.
Acting police commissioner Kenneth Jackson told Patch police responded to nine accidents "at or in the vicinity of the intersection" between July 1, 2011 and July 19, 2012.
The petition, which Pisani presented to the board, states: "The intersection is a constant source of near misses, screeching brakes and blaring horns. Our school superintendent acknowledges that drivers routinely ignore the lights and Stop signs of buses picking up and dropping off school children on Rockaway Avenue, and now with the additions to the high school, it will only get worse, perhaps tragically coming to a head with additional fatalities."
Another Rockaway Avenue resident who has three children, ages 7, 8 and 11, said there's no sidewalk from his house to Garden City Middle School. "There's no safe way for [my son] to walk to school and he's too close to take the bus," he told trustees.
Pisani said he and his neighbors, in consulting with the village's public works department, learned that there are "no plans in place pursuant to the high school construction that address the ongoing hazards to our residents and to visitors to high school events presented by Rockaway Avenue's curved roadway and the lack of any planned crosswalks, crossing guards, Stop signs and/or effective restrictions on street parking on this heavily trafficked and non-regulated street."
The Rockaway Avenue residents who signed the petition understand its a county-owned road but believe the issue of safety "falls squarely on the shoulders and judgement of village (and county) officials and those involved in the planning of these construction projects."
The petition seeks:
1. A crosswalk providing safe access to the high school, and/or
2. A Stop sign or other prominent caution sign(s) that would be strategically located, and/or
3. No parking on the east side of Rockaway Avenue across from the school facilities, and
4. Enhanced police enforcement of traffic regulations for this street.
Trustee Nick Episcopia, chair of the Traffic Commission, suggested holding a commission meeting in August prior to the start of the 2012-2013 school year, when, he said, most problems on that road typically surface.