Dozens of Five Towns residents packed the Boehm Meeting Room in the Hewlett- Woodmere Public Library on June 6 to voice concerns on the condition and safety of West Broadway, from Mill Road in Hewlett to Rockaway Turnpike in Cedarhurst.
Organized by the Five Towns Beautification and Safety Improvement Committee, which several community members formed in 2015 to push government officials to repair the roadway, the forum included county Legislators Howard Kopel and Denise Ford, a representative from the Nassau County Department of Public Works, and police officers from the 4th Precinct.
Ari Weinreb, who helped organize the meeting, said the substantial turnout “shows what an issue this really is and how concerned people really are.”
Kopel said he understands the problems. “I drive the neighborhood, I’ve got family in the neighborhood … so we’re all very, very concerned and interested in this,” he said.
The restoration project had been scheduled for last year, but is now set to begin in 2018. Kopel cited budget issues, a drainage study and standard government red tape as reasons why the project has stalled.
Nassau County had received money from the state to study methods to mitigate flooding in the area, Kopel. “[In order to fix the flooding] sometimes it involves breaking up streets. It would have been exceedingly wasteful and foolhardy to tear up sections of West Broadway while that study was going on and then potentially having to tear up parts of it again after repairing it.”
In addition to road resurfacing, the residents also want the curbs and the sidewalks along West Broadway repaired. This is normally the responsibility of the town or village, not the county, but Cedarhurst Mayor Benjamin Weinstock said that the county covered those costs when they repaired the broken sidewalks on both sides of Branch Boulevard, between Cedarhurst and North Woodmere. Both Kopel and Ford said would do all they could to have the county cover those costs, but said that some battles are out of their control.
The double utility poles that line the street are another issue for residents. Officials said that the last company to use the poles, Verizon in most cases along West Broadway, is responsible for removing poles that aren’t in use. Ford said they have been pressuring the companies to do so, and were working towards leveling fines.
Sgt. Charles Sollin, who heads the 4th Precinct’s Problem Oriented Policing program, advised residents to call the precinct at 516-573-6400 to report broken poles they believe might be a dangerously splintered.
Residents also brought up few other concerns such as local truck traffic, mistimed traffic signals and the possible residential development of the Woodmere Club that impacts most of the Five Towns, with a small portion of land located in Woodsburgh village, and a huge swath in Woodmere as well as the Cedarhurst and Lawrence borders.
Community members said they are concerned that an influx of people could exacerbate all the issues discussed that Tuesday. Kopel said that he and Ford plan to host another meeting to discuss the club soon, but said that the land is private property, and the sale, which occurred in April, could not be blocked, no matter what the buyers do with the land. He called it a “complex process” that would more than likely include construction of homes.
“We know that you’ve been patient so far, and we’ll make sure to keep this dialogue open,” Ford said, adding that she and Kopel believe that to help ensure the project gets done correctly, pressure from both community members and all local government officials is needed.