For years the residents of Columbia Ave, in the Manor Woods section of Hartsdale, have petitioned the town to install a sidewalk and speed bumps along the busy thoroughfare. At morning and evening rush hour, traffic volume substantially increases along the street as commuters make their way to and from the train station. Many drivers are respectful of the fact that this is a residential neighborhood and observe the speed limit and stop signs. But far too many forget their surroundings and basic concepts of driver safety, often leading to confrontations between local residents and out of town drivers in a rush to go about their business.
Many pedestrians also use this street, either local residents making their way to the downtown area of Hartsdale or parents and kids walking to the Highview Elementary School. It’s actually a miracle that nobody has been hurt given the volume of traffic and reckless driving that is evident on a daily basis.
One local resident and supporter of Hartsdale Neighbors Association, Bill Sicari, started a movement late last year to garner the support of residents along Columbia Ave and intersecting streets, with the goal of applying pressure on the town to listen to the concerns and address some of the problems. Among those concerns were:
- installation a sidewalk along Columbia Ave
- increasing the size of the existing speed bumps
- extend the speed bumps beyond Lawton Ave, all the way to Jane St
- repairing the curbing along Columbia Ave and intersecting streets
- proactive monitoring of traffic and speed along Columbia Ave
The process involved a mail drop to homes, gathering feedback using online surveys, and eventually meeting with Town Supervisor Paul Feiner and Chief of Police Chris McNerney. Given the weight of interest and support from local residents, and perhaps cognizant of the unfortunate accident on East Hartsdale Ave that led to the installation of the new pedestrian crossing. Supervisor Feiner agreed to look more closely at the list of concerns and begin putting together an action plan..
This past weekend, Supervisor Feiner met a group fifteen residents of the neighborhood for a walk along Columbia Ave and a discussion of some of the pertinent issues. Supervisor Feiner was accompanied by Vic Carosi, Commissioner of Public Works.
Although heated at times, the discussion was extremely constructive with the group highlighting a number of issues related to traffic and safety, including many of the points mentioned earlier. Commissioner Carosi, observing a number of issues that the DPW will have to deal with while installing the sidewalk, was hesitant to commit to a specific timeline for the project. However, Supervisor Feiner was clear that he would oversee the installation of a sidewalk in two phases; the initial goal to complete the first phase to Lawton Ave this year, and subsequently continuing the sidewalk to Jane St next year – budget permitting.
Supervisor Feiner and Commissioner Carosi mentioned that this particular area of Hartsdale was overdue for some maintenance activities, so the frustrated residents were delighted to hear that the Greenburgh Police would be leveraging some new technology to actively monitor and enforce traffic safety along Columbia Ave. While the project and traffic enforcement efforts may take some time to unfold, following the walk both Supervisor Feiner and Commissioner Carosi confirmed to the residents that the respective departments would immediately address the deteriorating speed bumps and signage along Columbia Ave.
Although not a perfect outcome, local residents can only be encouraged that their concerns are being heard and addressed. However, many will ask why did it take this long? Perhaps the answer lies with us rather than the town itself. When issues like these arise, one-off emails and phone calls from local residents can often get lost in the mix, especially in a town as large as Greenburgh. However, when a group of active citizens bands together under a common cause, their voices carry significantly more weight and there is no limit to what can be achieved.
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