A high-speed crash on July 6 in Bellmore, which left a Nassau County police officer hospitalized, is one in a series of accidents that have spurred residents to call for a traffic light at the intersection of Davenport Place and Bellmore and Alice avenues.
“These crashes aren’t just fender-benders,” said Fredda Schildt while standing at the corner of the cross streets. “They’re high speed, and there’s almost always debris.”
The corner, just south of Newbridge Road Elementary School, has become notorious for its collisions. For Schildt, a decades-long resident of Davenport Place, accidents and near-misses are far too common, she said. “I don’t want to risk my life every time I leave my house,” she added.
Since Bellmore Avenue curves at the intersection of the three streets, sightlines become obscured when drivers look for oncoming cars, making turns from either cross street difficult. While Schildt talked with the Herald Life at the corner, several cars and large trucks had to pull into the four-lane main road, blocking one before making a left turn.
In the July 6 accident, Hussam Rajab was charged with leaving the scene of the accident after colliding with Officer George Day, who was on a routine motorcycle patrol. The 14-year veteran suffered several broken bones, according to Newsday, and was hospitalized.
Anthony Eremitaggio, another homeowner on Davenport who has three children, got home on July 6 to see flashing sirens and emergency vehicles crowding the block. Prior accidents had caused similar circumstances, he said. In one incident, a vehicle ended up on the lawn of one of the corner homes.
Schildt and Eremitaggio joined other neighbors to start a petition on Change.org that had more than 570 signatures as of press time. It calls for the installation of a traffic light at the intersection, stating that the area “has become increasingly dangerous, with increased traffic and increased speeding.” Vehicles also speed down Davenport — a long block that connects to Newbridge Road — and Bellmore Avenue, which has a 40 mph speed limit.
Eremitaggio’s children, Lauren, Carmine and Anthony Jr., emphasized the danger as well. They cross the intersection to visit friends and to go to school, but often need to wait five to 10 minutes before crossing safely. “The other day,” Carmine said, “two cars came this close to hitting each other.” His hands were a foot apart.
Some safety measures have been implemented at the corner. Children at Play signs were posted on Davenport a few years ago, and “No Stopping Here to Corner signs were recently installed to improve sightlines on Bellmore Avenue. Traffic studies from the Nassau County Department of Public Works have concluded that sight distance on Bellmore Avenue is ample.
Schildt and the Eremitaggios said they believe that is not enough.
“None of the above has made a difference,” the petition reads, claiming the traffic study is inaccurate. In the comments, dozens of nearby residents also voiced their support for a traffic light. The latest effort from the Town of Hempstead was a No Left Turn restriction proposal, which Schildt, the Eremitaggios and petition organizers said would not suffice.
“I want to see not one more person hurt at this corner,” said County Legislator Tom Mc-Kevitt, a Republican from East Meadow. Bellmore Avenue, a county road, and the residential streets, which are under the town’s jurisdiction, make dealing with the intersection problematic, he said, because any effort gets stuck in inter-departmental communication for months.
“I am trying to get everyone in the same room” — including the Department of Public Works — “and I’m personally working on making that happen as soon as possible,” McKevitt added.
He said he hoped to get another traffic study for the corner, which may or may not determine that a traffic light is needed. When the legislator visited the intersection, he said the danger was more than clear. “There’s a lot of traffic, and a lot of high speeds,” he said. “There have to be further enhancements.”
“There are so many people rushing down the blocks,” Eremitaggio said. They’re not concerned about safety. With all the accidents, why wouldn’t they put a light in?”
Officials from the Nassau County DPW had not returned a call request for comment by press time.