WE NEED YOUR HELP — Support your hometown newspaper by making a donation.

Aiming to halt unneeded stop signs in the Five Towns

Posted

The installation of a stop sign at an intersection in Woodmere has left resident Michael Mann perplexed as to why it was requested by a non-Five Towns resident.

Mann, 37, said that he has lived on Midfield Road since 2014. In October 2020, the Town of Hempstead installed a stop sign at the intersection of Midfield and Grant Avenue. Mann said he believed the sign was unnecessary.

“I’m a longtime resident of this neighborhood, and there has never, to my knowledge, been an accident on this corner,” he said. “Midfield Road is all of five houses long and is a very minor street, and Grant Avenue isn’t much longer. ”

After submitting a Freedom of Information request to the town, Mann learned that the request to add the stop sign at the intersection had been made by Ben Dubin, who lives in Douglaston, Queens.

It wasn’t the only stop sign request Dubin made in the Five Towns, according to Mann. “After multiple conversations with town officials, I found out that Mr. Dubin has requested about 50 additional stop signs in the Five Towns area,” Mann said. “While it’s unclear exactly why he did this, it appears from his Twitter feed, @warpedbd, and YouTube channel that he has a strong interest in traffic enforcement.”

Dubin could not be reached for comment by press time.

Mann said that Dubin is having an impact on traffic in the Five Towns without living there. “I don’t know Mr. Dubin personally and have never spoken with him,” Mann added. “It seems he has a sincere interest in public safety in the town although he lives nowhere near here. Viewed less charitably, he is holding the town hostage and he intends to sue if any of his stop sign requests are not filled, putting town taxpayers on the hook.”

“All stop sign requests, submitted by residents or non-residents, are subject to a rigorous review process conducted by the Town of Hempstead’s Traffic Control Division,” Greg Blower, the Town of Hempstead’s director of communication, wrote in an email. “The stop sign at Grant Avenue and Midfield Road in Woodmere was placed at an intersection that was the location of a vehicular accident reported by Nassau County in January of 2013.”

Blower added that stop sign requests are made by contacting the town’s Traffic Control Division. “The Town of Hempstead is sensitive to the concerns of residents and will deploy a Traffic Control team to conduct an additional review of the STOP sign location at Grant and Midfield,” he wrote. “Moving forward, the Traffic Control Division will continue to analyze requests for STOP signs and make necessary recommendations based on its review process.”

Town Clerk Kate Murray explained the legal issues surrounding the installation of a stop sign in the town. “In municipal law, a government has to be proven to have been on notice of a defect/unsafe condition before it can be held liable for injuries flowing from that alleged deficiency,” she wrote in an email. “By requesting the enormous number of stop signs, an argument can be made about potentially unsafe conditions in and around the town by an attorney who sees that the town was requested to place a stop sign.”

Mann added in a follow-up email that he hoped requests like this wouldn’t negatively impact traffic throughout the Five Towns. “I have already spoken to the Department of Traffic Control and they could not provide a reason why the request to add the stop sign was granted, given the accident history,” he wrote. “They merely stated that they typically accept these requests to avoid any liability for future accidents. It would seem that anyone, town resident or not, could request a stop sign anywhere in the town and have that request be granted.”

Have an opinion on traffic mitigation in the Five Towns? Send a letter to jbessen@liherald.com.