Written by Joe Scotchie Friday, 14 August 2009 00:00
Already, the cameras are a source of controversy in Massapequa.
The intersection of Merrick Road and Park Boulevard was originally set as one of the places where the cameras would be installed. However, the cameras were recently removed. Last Tuesday, Massapequa Park Mayor James Altadonna and County Legislator Edward Mangano met at the intersection to denounce the county’s decision, one that they claimed was a matter of putting greed ahead of public safety.
“Soon after tagging the corner of Merrick Road and Park Boulevard among the most dangerous in Nassau, county officials ordered the cameras removed when it was discovered that the site is within the boundaries of the Village of Massapequa Park,” Mangano said. “This would require that any fees collected from violators be turned over to the village rather than feeding the county coffers. Clearly, this shows that county officials are less concerned about public safety and more interested in collecting the dollars expected to be generated from the red light camera program.”
Both Legislator Mangano and Mayor Altadonna are calling for the county to “immediately return the camera to the dangerous intersection.”
“With the public high school only 200 feet away, where a cafeteria food service is not available to students who are forced to leave the campus to purchase lunch from nearby establishments, it makes safety sense to keep the red light cameras operating at this intersection,” said Mayor Altadonna. “Removing the cameras on top of the county’s recent curtailment in police coverage in the village shows that raising money is more important to county officials than the safety of our residents.”
A spokesman for the Nassau County Traffic Safety Board said the removal had nothing to do with the collection of fees. Instead, state law, the spokesman said, limits the validation of red light camera tickets to the county. Only the county can authorize red light camera violations. Since the Merrick Road camera location is within village boundaries, the Village of Massapequa Park is not authorized to validate the tickets.
Effective Aug. 6, the following two intersections included in Phase I were equipped with red light cameras: Stewart Avenue and Central Avenue in Bethpage and Atlantic Avenue and Lawson Boulevard in Oceanside. The remaining intersections in Phase 1 will be equipped with live red light cameras Sept. 1. Phase 2, the second group of 20 intersections, will be completed by Dec. 1 and the final 10 intersections will be completed by mid-January 2010.
Villages with red light cameras soon to be in operation include:
• Baldwin: Grand Avenue and Merrick Road – eastbound and westbound; Merrick Road and Milburn Avenue – southbound and northbound
• Bellmore: Bellmore Avenue and Merrick Road – eastbound and westbound; Bellmore Avenue and Newbridge Road – southbound and northbound
• East Meadow: Merrick Avenue and Glenn Curtiss Boulevard – southbound and northbound
• Hicksville: Old Country Road and Hicksville Road – southbound and northbound; Old Country Road and Jerusalem Avenue – westbound and northbound; Old Country Road and South Oyster Bay Road – southbound and eastbound
• Inwood/Lawrence: Austin Boulevard and Empire Boulevard/Long Beach Road – northeast bound and southwest bound; Nassau Expressway and Rockaway Turnpike – northbound and northeast bound
• Levittown: Wantagh Avenue and Old Jerusalem Road – southbound and northbound
• Merrick: Merrick Road and Merrick Avenue – eastbound and westbound
• Oceanside: Long Beach Road and Daly Boulevard – southbound and northbound; Long Beach Road and Mott Street – southbound and northbound
• Uniondale: Earle Ovington Boulevard – southbound - and Charles Lindbergh Boulevard – eastbound; Earle Ovington Boulevard – northbound - and Charles Lindbergh Boulevard – eastbound
• Woodmere: Woodmere Boulevard and Peninsula Boulevard – northeast and southwest.
Tickets will cost red light runners $50, which is expected to bring in $4 million in total revenue to the county for the remainder of this year and $20 million next year.
– Victoria Caruso-Davis contributed to this article.