While and its impact on public safety was a major focus of the West Hempstead Community Support Association’s March 21 meeting, residents who attended also voiced other concerns.
Addressing Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, Police Chief Steven Skrynecki, and other representatives working for the county and Town of Hempstead, West Hempsteaders pointed out problems with litter, traffic safety, graffiti, abandoned properties and illegal apartments in their neighborhood.
Marshal Myers, a West Hempstead resident and WHCSA board member asked officials to address as the Tri-State area's deadliest road for pedestrians.
Chief Skrynecki said the police, as well officials in the county’s traffic department, have been working together to find ways to make the turnpike safer.
"In the last two weeks, we have been enforcing more traffic regulations and giving more tickets there than in the previous month," he said.
"Could we consider no right turns on red on the turnpike?" Myers suggested.
Ray Ann Havasy, the director of the Center for Science Teaching and Learning at nearby Tanglewood Preserve in Rockville Centre, said littering "is getting real bad."
"As a biologist, I know it gets washed into the storm drain and into oceans and we don't want that," she told the County and Hempstead Town officials present at the meeting. "I feel we can do more."
One woman said she even witnessed a woman throwing trash out of her car window while stopped at a light near . When she rolled down the window to confront the woman, she said the litter bug threw more garbage at her car and told her to mind her business.
Skrynecki advised her and others in attendance not to engage individuals like this in the future, but instead to notify the police immediately if they witness a crime being committed, no matter how small the offense.
"Quality of life issues are very important to us. If we manage the small things, the big things don't come in," he said, adding that residents should never hesitate to call 9-1-1."We want to be bothered."
"Burglaries are our No. 1 concern in the county right now," he said, but explained that often these crimes occur because neighbors who witness suspicious individuals don't report it. He reminded them, "If you see something, say something."
Illegal apartments are another problem plaguing West Hempstead, putting a strain on the school district, creating fire hazards and bringing in questionable tenants.
Nassau County Police officers are working with the Town of Hempstead Building Department, reporting any code violations they see when responding to house calls. A new code on the books also allows town inspectors to write a ticket without even stepping inside the home if outside indicators, such as license plates with multiple surnames registered at the same address, suggest there are multiple illegal apartments there, said Ray Schwarz, of the town’s building department.
Another law also gives the town the power to step in and paint over graffiti, board up vacant properties and dismantle swimming pools at abandoned homes, if the owners neglect to do so, Schwarz said. The charges for rendering these services are then billed to the property owners.
Residents can also do their part to help local officials combat all these problems. Whether they suspect a home contains illegal apartments or notice a property is being neglected, they can report it by calling Town Supervisor Kate Murray’s hotline at 516-489-6000 or emailing WHCSA President Rosalie Norton (Sweetrosieami@aol.com) who can lodge an anonymous complaint on their behalf.
“We need you to be our eyes and ears, “ said Schwarz. “We are out there as soon as we get that report, because we consider [these conditions] unsafe.”
Which of the issues raised at the March 21 meeting concern you the most? Vote in our poll below or use the comments section to address problems that were not discussed.
to read about Part I of our coverage of the meeting, which focused on the impact of the police precincts merger.