At a November 2001 village board meeting, residents collectively urged trustees to recommend that the Village Traffic Commission further probe the Franklin Avenue/Fourth Street intersection, particularly in light of a car accident that claimed the life of a 10-year-old fifth-grader at St. Joseph's. With more than 900 students participating in the religious education program and after school activities at St. Joseph's School, residents felt the area bore further scrutiny.
Further, in a letter sent to the board of trustees and the traffic commission, Reverend Joseph Schlafer of St. Joseph's School noted that in addition to the fatality, another young parish member was hit by a car on Fourth Street when students were exiting the school parking lot.
Then Deputy Mayor Barbara Miller formerly recommended that the commission look further into the intersection's traffic situation, which is oftentimes congested, particularly when Bookspan employees are exiting the parking lot and young residents are being picked up and dropped off at St. Joseph's.
"This year marks the second anniversary of the tragic death of Andrew Higgins," Jackie Vita of Pine Street said during a recent board meeting. "At the time [of his death], several residents sought installation of a traffic light outside of the Bookspan property. Several weeks later, we received a response from the county indicating consideration would be given and funds put aside by Bookspan for a future light. They decided to install the light after Bookspan opened so a sufficient amount of time would be allotted to determine a traffic pattern," she said.
The Nassau County Department of Public Works, under the authority of Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi, studied the intersection and found that a traffic signal was warranted. The determination also specified that, due to various access points to the site, the developer of the Bookspan site was responsible for the design and construction of the traffic signal.
With the change in county administration, however, Vita noted that she no longer receives letters in response to the letters she wrote. According to Robert Mangan, Garden City's director of Public Works, the light is awaiting approval by the Nassau County Traffic Engineering Department.
"The plans were prepared by the consultant for Bookspan. After the plans are approved, the requirements contractor who is on a Nassau County traffic light installation bid will be given a work order by the county to proceed. All costs are to be paid by Bookspan as part of their construction approval process," he said.
Mangan added that although officials had hoped the light could have been installed prior to the start of school this past September, he expects the installation could be complete sometime before the end of the year or could go into the early part of next year.
According to Kevin Goldman, a representative from Bookspan, the cost of installing the traffic light is in the low six figures and will be installed once the municipality tells them to do it. "Right now, we've just been waiting," Goldman said.
When installation of the signal is completed in accordance with Nassau County standards, the county will then accept ownership and maintenance of the traffic signal.
When Bertelsmann AG and Time, Inc., two multimedia giants, combined forces to form the largest book club marketer in America, Bookspan was born. The multi-billion-dollar media conglomerate created more than 400 additional jobs at its 501 Franklin Avenue location - nearly doubling the headquarters' workforce to 900 employees.
The building has been a village landmark since 1910 when Theodore Roosevelt first laid its cornerstone. It was originally the home of Doubleday and a fitting homage to England's Hampton Court. Doubleday was later sold to Bertelsmann AG, a privately held international media company, in 1986. Approximately one year later, Bertelsmann declared the Garden City location book club headquarters.