When New York State adopted legislation calling for a speed camera in each school district in Nassau County, the goal was touted as strictly safety for children. Now there seems to be an over-riding financial goal. At first, local municipalities and school districts such as Great Neck were contacted by Nassau County for their input. After discussing the issue, Great Neck officials strongly recommended Polo Road, in front of the North Middle School. Then, after some consideration, the county suggested Arrandale Avenue (next to the North Middle School) or roads surrounding the South Campus.
“Polo Road is the most appropriate place for those cameras,” Old Village Mayor Ralph Kreitzman said. His village houses four public schools.
Concerns immediately arose, concerns regarding the validity of proposed camera locations and the question of whether or not these speed cameras are truly focusing on the safety of students or on the financial benefits. The top local choice, in front of North Middle (where there is much pedestrian traffic on school days) is on Village of Great Neck property and revenue from these tickets would go to the village. The possible top choices for the county are Arrandale Avenue (no foot traffic because there are no sidewalks), or roads surrounding the South Campus (no foot traffic, as all South High and South Middle students are bused to school) would bring revenue to the state and the county.
To date, no decision has been announced. Signs announcing speed cameras were placed at two spots on Arrandale, and last Friday, Sept. 12, a speed camera, on a temporary pole, was placed in front of North Middle. But, according to Nassau County Legislator Ellen Birnbaum, no final decision has been made.
According to New York State Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel, this four-year pilot program, when finally adopted, gave the county the option of choosing locations. And, according to local officials at the village and at the school district, that was when the county began naming sites of their choice.
When the Great Neck Record contacted the county, no answer was forthcoming. After contacting Katie Grilli-Robes, press secretary for the county and for County Executive Ed Mangano, the Record received an email from Brian Nevin, also from the county public relations department. Nevin simply forwarded an email from Judge John Marks, executive director of the Nassau County Traffic and Parking Violations Agency, stating: “State law provides for speed cameras in a single location in each of the school districts located in Nassau and Suffolk counties. No location in the Great Neck School District has yet been selected by the Nassau County Traffic Safety Coordinator. In fact, Polo Road is still under consideration.”
When the Record again questioned the county, Grilli-Robles said that the judge had further informed her that “tests and studies are still being conducted by the Office of Traffic and Safety.”
While other sources have quoted Mangano and NIFA Chairman Jon Kaiman as having said that revenue from new school zone speed camera tickets are to help cover the related costs, the county did not respond directly to that questions. Kaiman assured that NIFA is only involved in the county’s finances and that it is his only official concern; his only job regarding these cameras is being sure that the county can cover its costs (via raising fees and revenue from tickets).
Great Neck School District Superintendent Thomas Dolan told the Record that he questions the issue about just whose interests are being served as far as safety. He also said that he wonders why the importance of safety for the children would come before a need for county revenue. Dolan’s main interest, the safety of the school children, is the priority. “I hope that they serve the same purpose,” he added.