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Third-grader catalyst for new stop sign

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Playing in her front yard and walking to and from Francis F. Wilson Elementary School just became a lot safer for Rockville Centre third-grader Danielle Garcia, who served as the catalyst in getting a new stop sign installed at the intersection of Yorkshire Road and Bedford Avenue.

Like many others, Garcia’s mother, Jenny, began working from home this spring due to the pandemic and became much more aware of cars flying down their street. “We moved here three years ago, but my husband [Andres] and I are always working and never really noticed the amount of traffic and how the cars were just whipping by,” Jenny said. “It was concerning.”

One day during the summer, Danielle, 8, suggested the idea of a stop sign and knew just the person to contact. “Her class had a field trip last year to the Mayor’s office and she learned all about his job,” Jenny said.

So, Danielle took action, bringing attention to the traffic situation by writing to Village of Rockville Centre Mayor Francis X. Murray. “It was a medium-sized letter and I wrote about three reasons why we needed the stop sign,” Danielle said. “I thought it was going to take longer for it to happen.”

Soon after receiving Danielle’s letter and fielding phone calls from several other Yorkshire Road homeowners — the Shaughnessys and Byrnes — Murray and Deputy Mayor Kathleen Baxley went to the location to observe traffic and interviewed residents who were walking the area. Speed wasn’t the issue, Baxley noted, but they still agreed something had to be done.

“Nobody was exceeding the speed limit, but we noticed many drivers weren’t being cautious enough in such close proximity to a school,” Baxley said. “Danielle and her family recognized a need to slow down traffic and the other residents of Yorkshire Road we spoke to fully supported the idea of a stop sign.”

Murray said it took about a month from when he received the letter to get the new stop sign in place. He reached out to the Rockville Centre Village Police Department, which also monitored the location. The stop sign was installed by the department of public works on Nov. 6.

“We needed and wanted the police’s blessing [before moving forward],” Murray said. “It’s all about preventing a kid or their parent or anyone else for that matter getting hurt. We’re seeing a lot more cars on the road these days with fewer people using mass transit.

“This stop sign will help tremendously,” he added. “Even 5 miles per hour around that corner is too fast, in my opinion.”

Danielle said seeing the stop sign in place makes her “happy and proud.”