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Saturday, December 20, 2014
It's time to talk about the Bridge
John Maher

When I woke to a call from my editor on the morning of Aug. 23, I can’t say I expected him to ask me to snap shots of a murder scene. Reporting in Rockville Centre usually doesn’t involve these kinds of cases.

But as soon as he asked, I already had a hunch as to where the death took place — didn’t know how, or why, but I knew a bridge was involved.

The Bridge. How many times have I heard these words said with meaningful inflection? During my South Side Middle School years, it was spoken of in hushed tones in the hallways and at the lunch table while plans were made to sneak Bailey’s from some unsuspecting mom’s liquor cabinet. In high school, the cool kids would dismiss it, turn it to a subject of derision — but everybody knew that come nightfall every Friday, the flasks would be out in full force.

Rockville Centre has two major underage drinking hotspots colloquially called “the Bridge.” One of these spans Peninsula Blvd., connecting N. Village Ave. with Hempstead Lake State Park. The other, crossing Merrick Road by Mill River Park, we know all too well now.

Teens gather there at night, in the bushes by the side of the road, where dim light makes it difficult to spot them. There, they drink, sometimes do drugs, occasionally graffiti, and generally engage in behaviors their parents often pretend their kids would never be involved in.

I’ve known about the Bridge since I was in sixth grade, in 2001. So why is it that, until now, nothing has been done?

This is certainly not an issue that has consistently been ignored. Every once in a while, an incident occurs and the town flares up. The Roxen Road assault case from two years ago is a perfect example: neighbors called neighbors, residents flooded the Village Board meeting, and Mayor Murray wrote a Letter to the Editor of this paper claiming that he was “infuriated that such a thing could happen in our village.”

But apparently too few of us were infuriated enough to take measures that could have prevented what happened to Lauren Daverin-Gresham two weeks ago.

The facts on the murder of Daverin-Gresham are still not in. But the facts about the Bridge have been on our radar for years. Why haven’t we done anything?

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