Written by Denise Nash Friday, 20 November 2009 00:00
Governor David Paterson recently announced that a guard rail will be installed along the entire length of the Wantagh State Parkway bike path, which runs from Jones Beach State Park to Cedar Creek Park along the Wantagh Parkway and is utilized by thousands of residents weekly who like to walk, jog, bike, and rollerblade.
The idea for a guard rail was an effort spearheaded by Jericho resident Gina Russo after she saw the dangerous situation.
Five months after Russo started her petition for the bike path, 19-year-old Matthew Scarpati of Dix Hills was killed when a drunk motorcyclist, estimated to be traveling in excess of 100 miles per hour, veered off the northbound parkway onto the bike path and struck him while he was changing a flat tire on his bicycle.
Through Russo’s efforts, teamed with the Scarpati family, a petition was started to have a guardrail placed along the path and Governor Paterson heard their calls. The guard rail should be in place by May, 2010.
Russo and her organization, LIFun4Kids, said they are delighted by the recent announcement of Governor Paterson to install a guard rail.
“There are many people to thank from both state and local government whose efforts were instrumental in this cause, especially Senator Chuck Fuschillo, Legislator Dave Denenberg and Assemblyman David McDonough who took the time to listen to the concerns of their constituents,” Russo said. “More importantly we would like to thank the thousands of concerned citizens from throughout Long Island, whose amazing response to our petitions made this cause successful. We asked for your help and you responded in such overwhelming numbers that our goal was accomplished in a much shorter time period than we thought possible. Our success belongs to you. “
Russo also said they are applying for the permits needed to close the northbound lanes of the Wantagh Parkway from Jones Beach Theatre to Merrick Road for a bike charity event in memory of Matthew Scarpati, which will take place in May. Updated information can be found at www.LIFun4Kids.com.
“Too often tragedy and sacrifice are required to accomplish what logic and forethought could not,” said Russo. “The Scarpati family know this to be true. We wish to thank them for their dignity and grace these past few months; all users of the bike path are indebted to them. To the Scarpati family, we wish to extend our love and gratitude. Your strength and determination are an inspiration to us all.”