Christina Bailey says she is worried about her kids walking to and from Central High School and Memorial Junior High School in the mornings and afternoons, because they have to cross the intersection of Merrick Road and Central Avenue.
“Driving in the morning, I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is horrible,’” Bailey said. “There are children as young as 11 years old crossing.”
In 2014, 12-year-old Zachary Ranftle was struck and killed by a SUV nearby, at Franklin Avenue and Merrick Road. Two years later, another student, whose name was not made public, was struck by a car at that intersection and rushed to the hospital with a leg injury.
“I don’t want another fatality to happen before we get a crossing guard,” Bailey said.
She brought her concerns to the principals of Memorial Junior High School and Central High School, who agreed that a crossing guard is necessary to safeguard the Merrick Road-Central Avenue intersection. “There is a definite need,” said Dr. Joseph Pompilio, the principal of Central High, who added that he is working with the Village of Valley Stream to station a crossing guard there.
As a result of Pompilio’s lobbying efforts, the Nassau County Police Department has a request on file for a crossing guard at the intersection, and Nassau County Police Department 5th Precinct officers will conduct a traffic study of the intersection to see if a crossing guard is warranted “in the very near future,” Detective Lt. Richard LeBrun, commanding officer of the NCPD’s Public Information Office, wrote in an email to the Herald.
LeBrun also said that there already is a crossing guard one block east, at Fletcher Avenue and Merrick Road, which is closer to the schools.
Other options to make the intersection of Merrick Road and Central Avenue safer include new traffic patterns. A 2015 study of crossing guards’ effectiveness in the city of Pittsburgh, conducted by the University of Pittsburgh’s Office of Child Development/Early Childhood Partnerships, showed that the city addressed safety needs at major intersections by installing four-way stoplights, at which all traffic in an intersection stops while pedestrians cross. While this made intersections safer for older children and adults, younger children still needed adult supervision when crossing.
The village is also considering several measures to slow vehicles on its streets, including curb extensions and different kinds of speed bumps, though many potential solutions don’t involve village-owned roads and could create liability issues.
Nassau County residents who would like to request crossing guards can call the 5th Precinct at (516) 573-6543 and ask to speak with a problem-oriented police officer.
Nick Ciccone contributed to this story.