To Supervisor Feiner and the Town Board:
The Hartsdale Neighbors Association (HNA) formed a Public Safety Committee in September to address the needs of the community and work towards improving all aspects of resident safety in our community.
One death already had occurred on Central Avenue in 2018. In the weeks after our committee was formed, two more tragic accidents occurred: one at the crosswalk across Central from Manor Woods and Sacred Heart Church, and the second recent one on East Hartsdale Avenue. Friday night’s accident has renewed resident concerns.
This email offers constructive views on what the Town Board should start and stop doing to make Hartsdale safer. It accepts your offer to join a Townwide committee on safety if it’s primary focus is on unincorporated Greenburgh and works to support local public safety outreach being conducted by the HNA and other civic groups.
We have been spurred to action because the Hartsdale community is not satisfied with the status quo of either no action, or mere lip service to our needs. Hartsdale residents have felt that their years-old complaints regarding speeding and pedestrian safety on E. Hartsdale and Central Avenues, 4 Corners and throughout town have been falling on deaf ears. The Town Board’s responses to date about what it can do to improve safety are inadequate and will not solve the problems.
The HNA clearly needs to raise the volume on the importance of these issues and has worked to build direct relationships with the incoming Police and Fire Chiefs. We have offered ideas to the new police chief, Brian Ryan. He is eager to help, and we are excited to work with him. We have told him that residents want the police to enforce the rules of the road with increased priority on East Hartsdale Avenue: they cite speeding, double parking and people passing illegally as high concerns. Chief Ryan has agreed to meet with us soon and to be at a meeting with the community next month where GPD and Hartsdale safety is the focus.
The Greenburgh Town Board also needs to listen to Hartsdale and step up to the plate on what it can and should do. We may be a smaller number of voters than Edgemont or the incorporated villages, but our people are vital. And our roadways are essential to mid-County traffic flow.
We do not want a media-focused TOG-led committee on outreach regarding Hartsdale safety. We are handling outreach ourselves – it is resident-focused and without fanfare. The Town Board should focus on the responsibilities of government:
- Provide a list of all safety-related initiatives impacting Hartsdale in the 2020 budget so that resident input can be provided. This needs to go beyond sidewalks!
- Extend the Four Corners traffic safety study to become a comprehensive 5-year Hartsdale safety study so that all major corridors and problems are studied in the next 6 months – with a timetable for action that reflects the urgency of the problem. Any studies should be done in coordination with other studies done/planned for in that vicinity. (i.e., studies at 4 Corners connected to the train station, East and West Hartsdale and Maplewood). The same firm should be the lead on all studies, so that an organic approach can be taken. Engineering and DPW should be involved. Chief Ryan should be consulted so that we are sure to have the best safety experts working with that firm. Assuming additional funding is needed for this in the 2020 budget, it should provide it.
- Fund other safety measures that the studies show fall into the TOG responsibility and not simply rely on future grants. Some speed bumps are being installed and traffic lights being funded by or planned by NYS-DOT. But this is being done without wide citizen input and before the current traffic studies are completed. They may be piecemeal solutions that do not work as well as they might if a comprehensive approach were taken.
- Provide periodic updates to HNA and resident with study results, real accomplishments, data and implementation.
- Support the work of the HNA, offer the assistance we request, and keep us apprised. We ask that you do not duplicate the outreach we already have underway. We ask that you do not omit us and our neighbors from important meetings, as the Board did with the meeting at Sacred Heart Church after that accident.
- Focus on the unincorporated Greenburgh in any Townwide committees/other initiatives, share any Townwide best practices, provide information on Townwide data patterns, analysis and budgeting related to safety. Look to do what local groups like ours cannot.
- Be a strong advocate for Hartsdale with New York State, which owns West Hartsdale Avenue and Central Avenues. Communicate with our community about the advocacy.
Hartsdale residents are out of patience and demand to be treated better. There have been too many people killed and seriously injured. Support the HNA in its work, treat us like a partner, and move on this urgently. This literally is a life and death issue.
Chair, Public Safety Committee
Hartsdale Neighbors Association
Copy to HNA Executive and Public Safety Committees
Brian Ryan, Chief of Police
Ed Rush, Chief of Hartsdale Fire District
Ray Maseda, Incoming Chief, Hartsdale Fire District
Judith Beville, Town Clerk
Town of Greenburgh Planning Board (via Aaron Schmidt)