Written by Richard Bentley Friday, 11 May 2012 00:00
The entire Plandome Road Visioning Project, covering Northern Boulevard to Webster Avenue, was last presented to the community and discussed in February 2010 and was estimated to cost close to $2.5 million. That amount far exceeds available funding, so the project must be phased in as funding becomes available.
Phase I, covering a very short section, from Manhasset Avenue to Park Avenue, is estimated to cost around $700,000 and is funded by a NYS Safe Routes to Schools grant, matched by the Town of North Hempstead (TNH). In Phase I, traffic calming and pedestrian safety measures are paramount: narrowing the vehicle travel lanes; creating a median and adding bulbs-outs at corners, where practical, engineered to decrease pedestrian crossing distance.
TNH Planning Commissioner Michael Levine stressed the two-year state approval process was arduous, involving not one approval but several stages of approval by NYS-DOT, with the final step, approval of bid documents, expected imminently. Aware of the community’s concern regarding the time delay, Levine stressed the two-year approval is consistent with NYS project approval timeframes experienced by most municipalities. Community concerns and stakeholder recommendations voiced in the past were examined throughout the past two-year plan approval process between TNH and NYS. While many concepts are in the final plan, it was learned some were not. During the “intersection by intersection” review at this meeting, it was clear that each corner carried its unique pros and cons.
On the positive side, Manhasset Avenue will finally be widened using the town’s right of way to modify the sidewalk adjacent to Mary Jane Davies Green to legally accommodate adding an eastbound Manhasset Avenue right turn lane onto southbound Plandome Road. Several asked why a southbound Plandome Road right turn lane onto westbound Manhasset Avenue was not included in the final plan. Project architects responded that either pedestrian or vehicular safety standards were the basis of decisions. As the financier, NYS-DOT gets the final word.
In Phase I the median will not be a raised median, but rather a flush stamped pavement, similar to the new crosswalk pavement design placed last year on Park Avenue. Safety advocates believe a raised 2-inch mountable (sloped curb) median would provide more pedestrian safety and more effectively force traffic to stay in assigned lanes, while providing emergency vehicles the ability to cross over it. However, the flush median does provide the ability to change to a raised median in the future if it is determined drivers chronically ignore the flush median. Starting with a flush median in Phase I allows future modification if needed at more modest cost. Similar flush stamped crosswalks will be placed in the Phase I area.
Unless some huge grant or financing plan becomes available, the entire Plandome Road vision will likely takes years to accomplish. Phased progress allows the community to test the success of the design elements and keep, modify or discard them in future phases. Given the multi-year nature of the entire project, rather than wait, the TNH is repaving the now badly needed town owned sections of Plandome Road from 25A to Webster Avenue which has become a pothole archipelago. The Nassau County owned 0.3 mile portion of Plandome Road, through the Incorporated Village of Plandome Heights, will also be repaved concurrently. TNH Public Works Commissioner Thomas Tiernan advised that the entire repaving work is anticipated to take only a few days, performing a 2-inch scrape up of existing asphalt, followed by immediate full repaving with work performed at lower traffic volume evening and night hours. While all road construction guarantees inconvenience, the community was assured that every TNH effort would be made to minimize traffic disruption.
Other details, outside the Phase I NYSDOT project, are still being considered - a badly needed crosswalk from the southwest to northwest corner of Memorial Place at Plandome Road and storm sewer drain cleanouts with new catch basins where needed during repaving work to alleviate the chronic “Plandome River” that runs on the east side of Plandome Road during every heavy rain. TNH will also attempt to get the LIRR on board to add one of the new design crosswalks at the northwest to southwest corners of the LIRR parking lot exit onto Plandome Road. Following the Phase I work, traffic light timing adjustments along the strip will be necessary. All traffic lights are the county’s responsibility.
Attendance was light with many voicing concern about inadequate advertising of the meeting and also perceptions that it was just another town meeting on a simple repaving project likely contributed to low turnout. However, the meeting was important to prepare the community for the upcoming summer construction.
Those who did attend grasped that the community has both pro and con views on just about every element of the plan. Some fear “traffic calming” could potentially back up more traffic along Plandome Road. Yet, for others, that traffic calming is exactly the point – to make Plandome Road a less desirable shortcut to the Port Washington Peninsula and in the long term encourage diversion of more through traffic to State Route 101/ Port Washington Boulevard, a road designed to better accommodate greater traffic volume.
Many concur the Phase I design elements are a definite improvement over current pedestrian safety conditions, provide more deterrence to chronic driver infractions such as double parking, U-turns, and speeding during non-peak hours.
Those with some involvement in the Plandome Road Visioning Project over the years, while disappointed over the long lead time, acknowledge they have learned a great deal about the underlying laws, processes and rationale governing the project. Phase I will not please everyone, but does meet the initial goals and the grant funding requirements. The project is structured to accommodate an incremental approach that maximizes future flexibility to satisfy the community as well as test the success of engineering design elements for future phases. Despite the inevitable debate on individual details the stakeholders are pleased.
It was noted that Councilwoman Anna Kaplan is planning to form a new parking task force to consolidate the separate groups formulating parking solutions to complement the Plandome Road project.
More importantly, Manhasset is finally getting the TNH attention it deserves and the Council of Greater Manhasset Civic Associations believes this project is a very positive improvement for our downtown, and offers a resounding “thank you” to Supervisor Kaiman, Councilwoman Kaplan and TNH project staff for this project.
Richard Bentley, president, Council of Greater Manhasset Civic Associations.
Greater Council members contributed to the article.
Wednesday, 22 May 2013 00:00
Submitted by Manhasset Post 304 American Legion
Matthew Falcone, commander of the Manhasset Post 304 American Legion, and James Brooks, parade chairman, have announced the parade order and schedule for the 2013 Manhasset Memorial Day Parade and Memorial Services. All Manhasset residents, their families and friends are invited to join the Legion in this remembrance of the great sacrifices of our American heroes. The theme of the parade this year, “Honoring Those Who Serve in Special Operations,” is a reminder that, while Memorial Day honors all deceased veterans, the intention is to remember service personnel engaged around the world in an effort to preserve American freedom and way of life from global terrorism.
A memorial service in honor of Manhasset’s war dead will be held at the Community Reformed Church, 90 Plandome Rd., on Sunday, May 26, at 10 a.m. Pastor Steven D. Pierce will officiate. All are urged to attend and to join with the Legion in the remembrance of the great sacrifice of our military.
Thursday, 23 May 2013 00:00
That first meeting, culminating in the May 2 ribbon-cutting for organic vegetable and herb gardens at all three Manhasset school campuses, was in September 2012.
Two organizations, both formed under the auspices of the SCA, were involved: Planet Manhasset, which under president Angela Classi and officers Merilyn Donnelly, Zari Ginsburg and Connie Parsons, spearheaded the construction of each site and Project Share, the which will distribute the produce raised to families in need. Classi, during the ribbon-cutting, told the students they were limited only by their imagination, and encouraged each one to embrace the secondary school garden as their own.
Thursday, 23 May 2013 00:00
Gymnast Alexis Stern, an eighth-grader at Manhasset Middle School, represented New York State in the Junior Olympic National Championships held in the Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek, MI the weekend of May 3. Competing against the top Level 9 gymnasts in the country, Alexis took home a bronze medal on the balance beam with a 9.45 and finished 12th in the country with an impressive 36.80 all around score (bars, beam, floor, and vault). Alexis earned her spot on the Junior Olympic team with a third place finish at the Level 9 North East USAG Regional Championship held in Springfield, MASS and was also recognized as one of New York’s top Level 9 gymnasts. Alexis trains five days a week at Gold Medal Gymnastics Center in Greenlawn under the tutelage of Hall of Fame Coach Tammy Marshall.
Thursday, 23 May 2013 00:00
On April 7, the Manhasset High School Crew Team held its first 5K Walk/Run fundraiser, which started and ended in the Flower Hill Village Park. More than 300 participants came out to race or stroll through Flower Hill, while raising funds for two great causes.
Proceeds from the event will fund additional equipment for the growing MHS crew team, with 10 percent of monies raised contributed to the Manhasset UFSD Fields Initiative, a fund created to re-turf the MHS Stadium Field and create a new field at Shelter Rock Elementary School. Barbara Thermos, who organized and coordinated the 5K event, noted, ”It was a great way for the community to come together for these causes, connecting with neighbors and friends while getting some exercise on a gorgeous, crisp sunny morning. Both causes support healthy athletic opportunities for Manhasset’s youth.”