East Hills reviews public safety standards

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Trustees in the Village of East Hills are considering steps  to strengthen public safety after  two crimes  raised residents’ concerns.

A   committee set up to review possible changes to deter  crime  recommended that the board  consider installing 99 cameras in the 33 entrances and exits of the village, and require lighting at night hours on new residential properties.

Mayor Michael Koblenz said that the board plans to hold a public hearing to get a response from village residents, and the committee will present a report based on public safety research.

During Tuesday’s board meeting, residents voiced their opinions when the topic was mentioned.

“I don’t think it’s a magic wand, but just a tool to have in our toolbox,” one resident said.

The security cameras are estimated to cost $300,000, and would be motion activated, sending a feed to a central location in the village.

“If I was a burglar, and I had a choice between a community where I could be picked up on a camera, or a community where I wouldn’t be picked up, I would stay out of that area,” Deputy Mayor Manny Zuckerman said.

The recommendation comes after two  crimes occurred in the village in December, one involving a suspect who escaped while attempting to burglarize a residence, and another where a resident was assaulted and robbed in her driveway.

Koblenz said some residents have been concerned since the incidents, and that the proposed changes are a reasonable consideration.

The proposed lighting requirements would affect newly constructed houses and major renovations, Koblenz said.

“When these houses are demolished and there are constructions sites, they’re black, completely black at night,” he said.

Because sites still have access to electricity, they should be required to have constant lighting after dark for the safety of residents, Koblenz said.

At earlier public meetings, the proposal to add lighting throughout the village was met with disapproval, like one instance when street lights were discussed, Koblenz said.

“It seems that from the informal polling that everybody did, half the community is in favor of [lights], and half is not in favor of it, and nobody wants it in front of their house,” he said.

One resident raised his concern about requiring more lighting, saying it might have an environmental impact.

“I think you need to integrate into your thought process that this is an environmental issue, which will require some kind of a substantial review on your part, as opposed to just a pro forma statement that it doesn’t have any impact,” Richard Brummel said.

Koblenz said the required lighting isn’t expected to be as heavy as flood lighting, and the final report will have more details.

“It’s not going to light up the community like Queens, but it will bring a certain amount of lighting so people won’t be afraid when they’re walking down the street,” he said. 

The lighting doesn’t just address potential crime, but is also out of concern for the safety of pedestrians walking near roads, Koblenz said.

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