Rolling River Day Camp directors want a new four-way stop sign. Jennifer Glatzer, the camp’s communications director, posted a change.org petition, “Help Rolling River Get Stop Signs on Ocean Avenue” on the camp’s Facebook page on Aug. 7, urging elected officials from the Village of East Rockaway, Nassau County and New York state to install a sign on the corner of Ocean Avenue and Ryder Place. As of press time, the petition had 747 signatures.
Some who signed it cited the dangers of crossing Ocean Avenue from Ryder Place, which parents of young children do daily when dropping their children off or picking them up from camp. “I’m signing because I care about the safety of children year-round — both campers at Rolling River, as well as students from East Rockaway Junior-Senior High School,” wrote Erica Chasan, of Oceanside. “Let’s make this a safe place to cross!”
Another camp parent from Oceanside, Stacy Ann Miller, wrote that she had experienced problems crossing the street. She and her daughter “left a camp evening event the other day,” she wrote. "As we crossed the street, I literally had to hold my hand in the air to make sure cars would stop. It is insane that cars don’t even have the courtesy to slow down as they approach.”
According to Mark Goodman, a camp director, speeding motorists coming to and from Sunrise Highway have caused several accidents at the corner over the 25 years that he has worked at the camp. Unfortunately, not all of the crashes are reported, he said. The Nassau County Police Department could not be reached for crash statistics as of press time.
“Every time you go on Ocean Avenue, you risk your life,” Goodman added.
To make the intersection safer for parents and children, the camp employs a crossing guard from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. and from 4 to 4:30 p.m. There is also a traffic light at the corner of Ocean and Pearl Street, as well as a four-way stop sign at the corner of Ocean and Prospect Avenue. These precautions make some residents wary of another four-way stop sign.
“East Rockaway is the land of stop signs, and traffic is already atrocious,” said Shane Vesce, who lives on Ocean Avenue. He added that the camp seems to have enough safety features in place. “[It] makes Ocean Avenue a mess up and down.”
But, Glatzer, said that the traffic lights, signs and crossing guards do not help camp parents, who park by Ryder Place, since they cannot use the front parking lot during the day, when buses are there. She also said that children ages 2 to 5 could be picked up at any time, even if the crossing guard is not on duty. “There’s no sign that says, ‘Yield to pedestrians,’” she said. “There’s nothing there to help our families cross.”
According to Goodman, the problem was supposed to be resolved in 2001, when village, town and county officials told him that they would put up a stop sign if he moved the entrance to the camp 30 feet to face Ryder Place. According to Goodman, he spent $22,000 to move the entrance, and the officials reneged on the agreement.
Last year, he again submitted a request for a stop sign at the intersection, citing the construction of a three-story storage facility as a traffic concern. Village officials forwarded it to the Nassau County Department of Public Works on March 10, 2016.
In response, Shila Shah-Gavnoudias, the county public works commissioner, sent East Rockaway Mayor Bruno Romano a letter three weeks ago stating that because the village put up the four-way stop sign on the corner of Ocean and Prospect, it should be responsible for putting up another one. “…In an effort to be consistent, by copy of this letter, we request the Village evaluate if the intersection of Ocean Avenue and Ryder Place warrants STOP control,” the letter read. Village officials received the letter on Monday, and are planning to request that the county do a new study to determine whether a stop sign is warranted.
In 2016, Village Engineer Juan Garcia determined that a stop sign was not necessary. He received copies of all four of the reports of accidents at the corner from January 2012 through January 2016 from the 4th Precinct of the NCPD, and found that all four were rear-end incidents. “If we create a stop sign there, it will create more rear-ends,” said Kevin Conklin, the supervisor for the county Department of Public Works.
Goodman said he believes that a stop sign would slow drivers and make the road easier to cross. “Everybody and their grandmother knows you need to slow people down on this road,” he said.