Driving or walking on Rockaway Turnpike in Cedarhurst at night is more challenging than it used to be, as Eugene Falik, a Rockaway resident who drives through the area several times a week, has noticed.
In previous discussions with the Long Island Power Authority, Falik said, he wanted to know who was responsible for fixing four dark streetlights along the turnpike. “[LIPA] said that the Village of Cedarhurst was responsible,” Falik said. “So then I called Cedarhurst, who said they were only responsible for one side of the street. There has been some dispute over who’s responsible.”
On Jan. 1, PSEG Long Island took over LIPA’s operations. The streetlights have been dark for over a month.
Dennis DiCeglio, the village’s code enforcement officer, surveyed the streetlight situation in Cedarhurst on Feb. 18, focusing on the lights on Rockaway Turnpike. He found nearly 40 other streetlights that were not on throughout the village. Inwood-based Mittman Electric Inc., which has had a contract with Cedarhurst for the past two years, will repair all the lights that need fixing or are disconnected. The work is expected to be done by the end of the month, DiCeglio said.
“LIPA was doing some work and not turning the lights back on once their work was finished,” he explained. “It isn’t fair [to the village], as we didn’t shut the lights off to begin with, but we’re making sure that the lights will be turned back on.”
Mittman Electric Inc. manager Gabriel Mittman has begun taking care of this situation. Mittman was waiting for final word on who was going to pay for the lights to be fixed, which turned out to be the village, he said. “Due to some weather damage done on the poles, and light bulbs being burnt out, these need to be replaced,” Mittman said. “The problem began when LIPA finished their work over a month ago. I’ve also had to bring wires to be reconnected and replace the burnt out light bulbs.”
According to Cedarhurst Mayor Andrew Parise, a LIPA supervisor said previously that the utility was not responsible for streetlights on Rockaway Turnpike. “We take care of the [maintenance] of lights on both sides of the street there,” Parise said. “The Town of Hempstead is responsible for one side, but we maintain both sides.”
PSEG Long Island and LIPA do not own the streetlights, according to Elizabeth Flagler, a PSEG Long Island spokeswoman. “If there’s a streetlight out in the future, people are to call their municipalities and report the problem,” Flagler said. “If LIPA and PSEG find an electrical problem, then we go out and fix it. In this situation on Rockaway Turnpike, the feed is on. Electricity is going to the poles.”
Flagler added that PSEG Long Island could not find any record of a call from the Village of Cedarhurst about the streetlights.
Village of Cedarhurst Clerk Sal Evola said the village called for work to be done a month ago. “Nobody reported it because no one lives there,” Evola said. “That’s why there is no record of it being reported. All along that stretch of Rockaway Turnpike are businesses and gas stations.”
Businesses on Rockaway Turnpike report no adverse effects of the dark streetlights. The bright lights at the three gas stations along that stretch of road may have reduced the impact.
At Tobacco Road, it’s business as usual. “In being busy with everyday life, I hadn’t even noticed the lights were out,” said Jimmy Shah, a store clerk. “Definitely, if it was much brighter, it could affect business, as people would feel more secure.”
On the east side of the turnpike, at the Sunoco station, night manager Shamsul Haque said he had not noticed the dark streetlights, either. “Our station is full of bright light, so it’s still bright enough over here for us,” Haque said. “It hasn’t affected us at all.”
Shah’s concern, he said, was for the pedestrians who use the sidewalks. “The people walking along this street at night in the dark, God forbid anything happens to them,” he said.
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