Readers Write: Plaza mayor inept in dealing with Middle Neck Road accidents

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I was pleased to read this paper’s Nov. 15 front-page article about the Middle Neck Road traffic study conducted by the Nassau County Department of Public Works. The study covered almost all of Middle Neck Road —from the northern point of Redbrook Road in Kings Point to the southern limit of Darley Road and Susquehanna Avenue.

 The study showed excessively high auto/auto and auto/pedestrian crash rates at several Middle Neck Road intersections — South Station Plaza and Great Neck Road; Middle Neck Road and Grace Avenue; and North Station Plaza and Cutter Mill Road (currently referred to by many as “Death Corner”) — all in the Village of Great Neck Plaza.

The information gleaned from the study was not new. In 2010, the Village of Great Neck Plaza had already recognized the excessive number of accidents at Middle Neck Road intersections, which was severely jeopardizing pedestrian safety in the village.

Mayor Jean Celender formed a Pedestrian Safety Committee to look into the situation. I was invited to join the committee.

 Members of the committee were tasked with identifying the troublesome intersections where crash rates were high. Their 2010 findings were exactly those intersections identified by the Nassau County Department of Public Works — South Station Plaza and Great Neck Road; Middle Neck Road and Grace Avenue; and North Station Plaza and Cutter Mill Road.

When the Pedestrian Safety Committee met with the mayor in 2010 to discuss their findings, Jean Celender informed us that Middle Neck Road was a county road and was not under her jurisdiction. She was not anxious to work with the county to address the problem. Nothing was done.

Not long after our unsuccessful meeting with the mayor, I was carefully crossing Middle Neck Road in the crosswalk at “Death Corner” and I was hit by a car.

I was lucky; I was taken to the emergency room, treated, and released. Fortunately, I did not suffer irreparable injuries. The one who got hit the week before my accident wasn’t so lucky; she was taken to the morgue.

My wife photographed my badly banged-up body, and after I healed I brought the photos to a subsequent meeting of the Pedestrian Safety Committee.

I placed the pictures in front of Jean Celender and asked her what she was going to do about the problem. Not wanting to be held accountable for her inaction, Celender dismantled the committee. That was in 2011.

Several years later, as the number of accidents at Middle Neck Road intersections continued to increase, another Pedestrian Safety Committee emerged in the Plaza; of course, I was not invited to join. The second committee was also short-lived.

The article in last week’s paper stated the following: “Village of Great Neck Plaza Mayor Jean Celender said she is aware of these issues and has been working with the county to address some of the measures needed to be taken to ensure all-around safety.”

Celender should tell that to the casualties of the prior 10 years.

Once again, Jean Celender’s failure to care for her constituents reinforces their reasons for submitting a new village motto for inclusion into Plaza promotional materials: “Great Neck Plaza — a village to die for.”

Hopefully, Nassau County, with the help of Legislator Ellen Birnbaum, will address the results of their study by doing the right thing in Great Neck.

It’s time for the Jean Machine Regime to go.

Leo Pfeifer

Village of Neck Plaza

(We want our “Great” back!)    

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