Written by Joe Rizza Friday, 21 August 2009 00:00
The quest to get a traffic light near Mineola High School to improve safety conditions for the students who walk to and from the school is near its end as the county appears ready to install a light in time for the upcoming school year.
Nassau County Legislator Richard Nicolello has been informed that the county department of public works plans on installing the light on Herricks Road at Jackson Avenue (where it intersects with Herricks on the east side). According to Nicolello, Labor Day is the target date for completion of the light.
“This has truly been a group effort involving PTA and community leaders, parents, school and elected officials. As we all know, the efforts for the light have gone on for years. The time spent taking photos, gathering petitions, and organizing the community have resulted in a traffic light that will make it safer for Mineola’s students and their parents who cross Herricks Road on their way to or from school,” said Nicolello, who was instrumental in helping to get the traffic light.
The quest for a traffic light was a collaborative effort between parents, the school district and the Village of Mineola. Lobbying efforts seemed to be the most successful this past year as Nassau County Department of Public Works Superintendent Ray Ribeiro came to Mineola High School for a meeting and stated the county would conduct another survey for the area to see if it would be suitable for a light. The county had previously denied a request for a light, but this time, agreed with various school-community members that a light is warranted for the area.
In a statement from the Mineola Schools District Council of PTAs, the council expressed gratitude for the installation of the light. “The District Council PTA is very grateful to the County Executive’s office for making our children’s safety their priority. Our entire school community, including parents, teachers, administrators, Legislator Rich Nicolello and Mayor Jack Martins, collaborated on this, some over many years. This fall, our high school students will be safer, and everyone can be very proud of that.”
Mineola Mayor Jack Martins believes the diligence showed by the parents, PTA members and Legislator Nicolello paid off in getting the light. Mayor Martins credits the legislator as well as the school district community including all the parents for making the traffic light reality. “I have to tip my cap to Rich Nicolello. We’ve been sending letters for years. When we finally got them to focus on the problem, [the county] handled it very quickly; they immediately saw the need and it’s refreshing to see that things do work themselves out in the end and thankfully,” said Mayor Martins. “This was something where common sense eventually prevailed.”
Perhaps the person most responsible for getting the light to the area was parent Lisa Fazio Cotroneo, who did the research for the light and took a multitude of photos that depicted dangerous conditions for Mineola High School students attempting to cross Herricks Road. “With every photo I would take I would cringe in fear that I would be documenting a tragedy in front of my eyes. I hope the next photo taken is of the smiling faces of our high school students safely crossing the street,” she said. “I am glad my years of training in photography were used for the good of the community. A picture really is worth a thousand words or in this case, one traffic light.”
Cotroneo, as well as parent Lisa Lao and members of Mineola District Council of PTAs Patricia Navarra and Robin Bischoff helped circulate petitions that were eventually given to deputy county executive for constituent affairs Ian Siegal.
“Six years ago I contacted Rich Nicolello to lobby for a street light for the high school kids on Herricks Road. Many people said, ‘good luck; it’s never going to happen.’ Community awareness slowly grew. After six years of letters, documentation, surveys, meetings and phone calls, and Rich side by side with us all along the way, that wish will finally become a reality,” said Cotroneo.
On Thursday evening’s meeting of the Mineola Board of Education, board president Will Hornberger thanked all the individuals who were part of the fight for the light.