At an Elmont East End Civic Association meeting at the Elmont Library on Sept. 3, residents expressed concerns about safety to a member of the Nassau County district attorney’s office and a 4th Precinct police officer. Complaints focused on unsafe driving conditions, illegal housing, a perceived reduction in law enforcement and drug abuse.
Association President Patrick Nicolosi asked Madeline Singas, chief assistant district attorney, and Officer Rita Bopp-Carroll for help in improving the safety and quality of life in the community. Nicolosi said that the Nassau County Police Department’s decision to merge the 4th and 5th precincts nearly a year ago was one of the main reasons why many residents feel unsafe. The merged precincts, now known as the Southwest Precinct, saw upticks in robbery, burglary and grand larceny in April compared with last year, he said.
“They say that violent crime is down, but we don’t see that here in Elmont,” Nicolosi said. “It’s not safe. Something needs to be done about the violence going on in Elmont, and something needs to be done fast.”
Singas, speaking two days after the rape of a 60-year-old woman in nearby Valley Stream State Park, urged residents to consider that some crime statistics may be misleading. “Statistics are not always what they’re cracked up to be,” Singas said. “Keep in mind that these days, women are reporting more crimes; that alone affects numbers. Of course, we intend to prosecute offenders to the fullest extent of the law, but numbers can be misleading.”
Bopp-Carroll, who took notes as residents spoke, said that police were committed to making Elmont a safer community. She also asked for their help in an ongoing search in Elmont for a 16- to 20-year-old man who had allegedly committed four robberies in two weeks. Bopp-Carroll said that the man rides a bicycle, and had robbed pedestrians of jewelry between 8 and 10 a.m. (He was still at large as of press time on Monday.)
Residents asked Bopp-Carroll to spread the word throughout the precinct about drivers’ road rage and speeders. They said that residential streets are no longer safe because too many drivers speed and ignore stop signs. One group complained about an inadequate number of stop signs along Butler Boulevard, which, they said, contributes to the speeding. Bopp-Carroll promised to follow up.
Aside from police matters, town cleanliness was a prominent issue of discussion. Residents complained about the look of Hempstead Turnpike, with graffiti and broken-down homes.
One community member, Noah Sheroff, said that one way to transform the graffiti-sprayed buildings would be to replace the graffiti with “street art” — pictures and paintings with a local historical context that would help revitalize and beautify the area.
“I think people would respect the street art more, and they would be less inclined to paint over it,” Sheroff said. He urged residents to support such a project.
Nicolosi said that he would like to see all the local civic groups join forces, and that the groups need more young members. He also announced that longtime member Dotty Werner, 89, was retiring from the civic group.
Eli Soblick, who is also 89 and a member of the group, said that the only way to bring about change is to have enough residents voice their opinions and rally for it.
The next Elmont East End meeting will be a Meet the Candidates night on Oct. 3, at 7:30 p.m., at the Elmont Library, and will include members of five civic associations.