Most will recall with sadness the Thanksgiving Day car accident on West Shore Road that claimed the life of one fine young man, Justin Bakst, only last year. This was not the first time lives had been lost on this particular thoroughfare, but the General Council aims to make it the last. After careful study dedicated to making this road and others throughout Port Washington, safer, the General Council of Homeowner Associations of Port Washington (GC) has recently passed resolutions calling upon the local and county police, as well as Nassau County government agencies, to implement these goals.
The GC, an umbrella organization of 22 civic associations, recently passed, in a unanimous vote, two resolutions regarding improving traffic safety. The first indicates the GC's concern "about the safety of West Shore Road where numerous serious and fatal accidents have occurred over the years." This resolution calls upon "Nassau County and all other [relevant] government agencies ... to undertake a traffic and safety study of West Shore Road in Port Washington as quickly as possible." The resolution continues, asking authorities to "undertake such improvements and corrective action as it finds appropriate to improve its safety." The GC also seeks a working partnership with governmental agencies in reaching this goal.
Steven Schlussel, the Morewood Oaks representative to the GC, and a longtime campaigner for greater safety, commented, in a 9/20 telephone interview, that the tragic loss of Justin Bakst inspired the GC to take this action, although the issue of safety has always been a high priority for him and the GC. When he was president of the Morewood Oaks Homeowners Association, for instance, one of his first acts was the installation of stop signs on Sands Point Road near Manorhaven School. He is still dedicated to enhancing safety. "We want Shore Road, a Nassau County road, to be a safer road," Schlussel said, and toward that end, he offered some personal thoughts for making it so. He described narrowing the median, to perhaps enlarge the shoulder, as one idea. "Other roads have a concrete shoulder, then a grassy area, and finally a short metal fence," he said. On West Shore Road, though, some trees and poles "come right up to the curb," Schlussel pointed out. "I think roads should be forgiving .. .roads should allow for some error," he explained.
A second resolution that "one of the primary, community-wide goals" was traffic safety. Recognizing the contributions by the PW Police District, the Sands Point Village Police, and the Nassau County Police, to "enhance traffic and pedestrian safety in PW," the GC's resolution called upon these groups to achieve this priority by "engaging in a sustained, community-wide, preventive and pro-active program to heighten public awareness of traffic safety." This effort could include additional public signs, public relations, and school and public programs. The police departments were also asked to recommend the placement of traffic signs, and traffic and road devices, all aimed at improving vehicular and pedestrian safety.
It was all-too-easy for Schlussel to provide examples of other local spots that are frequent accident sites; the public, whether in a car or on foot, would greatly benefit if more signs or signals were installed, he believes. "I would like to see more cautionary signs throughout town, and not just on West Shore Road," said Schlussel. Warning signs would be most welcome; he'd also like to see signs by the duck ponds, calling it a "very dangerous area." Shore Road could use signs indicating curves ahead, or flashing yellow lights.
The resolutions have already received support from County Legislator Craig Johnson, and Dr. Bakst. With Schlussel's determined efforts and those of the General Council, one can begin to envision that West Shore Road, and roads throughout PW, might, one day, cease to be the sites of other tragedies.