Some traffic lights on Park Avenue are located between all boulevards, on both sides of the street from Long Beach to Magnolia boulevards, the heart of the city’s commercial district. Now, East Olive Street resident Richard Boodman, a longtime vocal advocate for traffic safety in Long Beach, is calling for more traffic signals on Park, the city’s main thoroughfare that is under the jurisdiction of Nassau County.
Follow Long Beach Patch on Facebook.
County Legislator Denise Ford (R-Long Beach) told Patch last week that she submitted a letter to the county’s Department of Public Works requesting a traffic light at the westbound lane on the 600 block of East Park Avenue, outside the storefronts between Roosevelt and Neptune boulevards.
“We felt that area warranted a traffic signal, only because the many pedestrians that cross that way, and it just happens to be an area where many people have gotten hit,” Ford said.
Boodman designates Park’s 600 westbound block “the death block,” citing police statistics that he said shows there have been five vehicle-related pedestrians deaths there, including an elderly woman killed by a motorist there last year. The Long Beach Police Department didn’t return Patch’s requests for these stats.
In addition, Boodman advocates for lights on both sides of the 200 block of East Park, between Long Beach and Monroe Boulevards, another stretch lined with storefronts. He said the traffic lights were installed in between boulevards in the commercial district to increase safety for people crossing the streets from the central parking malls.
“So why not [have the same traffic lights on] the busy two blocks on Park Avenue east of Long Beach Boulevard?,” Boodman said. “This issue is about life and death, of which we have had too many.”
Others have publicly shared his sentiment about safety issues on the 600 block of East Park. Merrick resident Howie Appel, better known in Long Beach as radio show host Halftime Howie, told the City Council at the Sept. 3 regular meeting that when he drives into Long Beach each day he sees cars double parked outside the stores there.
“The double parking in front of Lido Deli, that has to be stopped,” Appel stated. “I hate to say that: are we waiting for some legs to be broken, or for somebody to be paralyzed or dead. Outlaw double parking. Every time I drive there there’s two or three cars double-parked. I always feel like I’m taking my life in my hands there.”
City Manager Jack Schnirman told Appel that the city is working on improving safety along that stretch. “Police have targeted that area for increase enforcement” he noted. “... And we’ve been working with the county to install a traffic light in that spot as well.”
Meanwhile, the parking mall at the 600 block of East Park is slated for reconstruction but work has been held up by bureaucratic red tape. But Ford said has requested that work move forward to install the red light first.
“It may take awhile to do the mall, so I had asked if somehow we can get that traffic signal installed and then see if they can do that mall” Ford said. “I would like the mall done but I feel it’s more important to get the traffic signal installed.”
Asked about Boodman’s request to install traffic lights at the 200 block of East Park, Ford sounded less certain that such work could materialize. The first of the two county parking malls on East Park that were slated for reconstruction was completed at the 200 block early last year. But because of the way that parking mall is design, Ford said, “that area would not support a traffic signal.” She also indicated that traffic coming off Long Beach Boulevard, a heavily traveled road, also weighed against posting a traffic signal there.
Boodman said he didn’t see the traffic there as an issue. “But we’ll leave it to the traffic people to decide,” he added.
Further, he is calling for crosswalks at the 600 block to be properly marked and striped, as well as cone-like “Yield to Pedestrian” signs posted in the crosswalk.
“The issue here is life and death,” he said. “How many more people have to die in this town before we get it right.”