A Coolidge Avenue resident, John Natale finds it senseless that his narrow, one-way street has the same 30 mile per hour speed limit as Lido Boulevard, a main thoroughfare with three lanes. Natale is among hundreds of residents from who last year signed a petition that supported legislation to reduce the maximum speed limit on their blocks but that died in Albany.
Natale said that Coolidge is home to 15 young children, and motorists routinely use the street as a speedway, especially since the city installed a parking lot at the end of block at East Broadway. “The traffic has increased incrementally,” Natale told the City Council at its Feb. 7 meeting. “... Literally they fly down our block. Something has to be done before some child is killed.”
The council that night approved a home rule request to have the state senate and assembly reintroduce and enact legislation to reduce the maximum speed limit to 15 miles per hour on the following avenues: Coolidge, Cleveland, Harding, Mitchell, Belmont, Atlantic, Wilson and Taft.
“Only the state of New York can reduce the speed limit on those streets down to 15 miles per hour,” said Corey Klein, the city’s attorney, about the necessity of the request.
He explained that the previous administration attempted to reduce the speed limit on the President Streets but their efforts with state officials never materialized.
“Unfortunately, due to some of the issues going on up in Albany, our request got caught up in and died in the various houses up in Albany in the past,” Klein said about an issue that has been ongoing since 2005. “…We’re trying again to hopefully ask the state again to enact this legislation.”
Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg, D-Long Beach, Sen. Dean Skelos, R-Rockville Centre, worked jointly on the legislation (along with a similar bill for 16 streets in Lido Beach and Point Lookout), which they introduced in April 2011, according to Weisenberg’s office. The City Council approved the home rule message on June 7. According to a history of the bill provided by Skelos’ office, it passed the senate on June 20, the last scheduled day of legislative session, on which day it was introduced to assembly.
“The information necessary, the home rule message, was received by the assembly at the very end of session, and therefore we could not process the legislation,” Weisenberg explained. “If we don’t get it in a reasonable time so that it can be presented to the committees that it has to pass through, then of course we can’t pass any legislation.”
Weisenberg said he has followed up with the city, personally resubmitted the legislation and will move it forward “as expeditiously as possible.”
Tom Locascio, Skelos’ director of district operations, said the two bills remain a priority for Skelos. “He will be working to have them passed again in the senate this year,” he said.
Critics of reducing speed limits have in part called it unenforceable on narrow side streets, and meaningless because most motorists fail to observe speed limits.
“I live in Long Beach and truth is speed limit signs won’t do a damn thing,” Ivan Bexter commented on a Patch question last year. “... Lower speed limits would be a waste of time except for the courts.”