Following hundreds of petition signatures, emails, and calls to control speeding drivers on Woodfield Road, the West Hempstead Community Support Association hosted County Legislator John Giuffre and Inspector Gregory Stephanoff of the Nassau County Police Department on Thursday, October 27, to brief local residents on the situation.
“Not counting Hempstead Turnpike, Woodfield Road is probably the second or third in the area…as far as the number of tickets,” Stephanoff said. “If we are writing 200 tickets, we are probably pulling over 400 vehicles.” He added that warnings serve as a deterrent, as does the presence of a patrol car.
Giuffre said that as soon as he heard about the death of Tomas Molina, 12, by a vehicle, he spoke with County Executive Bruce Blakeman to have a traffic study of this road. “The next day, I went to the location. It was raining but the configuration of the streets didn’t change. The County Executive met with his people to do a traffic study. There are over 100 locations right now subject to traffic studies. It is underway.”
He noted that the traffic safety division of the Department of Public Works is conducting the traffic study of Woodfield Road and could not provide the timeframe for the study. In his role, he is pushing for the study to be released quickly. While residents debate where there would be a traffic signal or sign, police records show that there is no single intersection that stands out on the 1.2-mile stretch of Woodfield Road between Eagle and Hempstead Avenues. Nor is there a single example of a traffic violation on this road.
“It’s not all speeding,” Stephanoff said. “There’s a wide range of tickets. The tickets are on a par with the rest of the precinct. I looked at Hempstead Avenue, Hempstead Gardens Drive. I looked at Hempstead Turnpike; Eagle Avenue is another major road. Woodfield Road is not getting any more tickets than any other area.” His assessment of traffic ticket records goes back to 2017.
Legislator Giuffre already pushed to have this dealt with as quickly as possible with the county executive. Stephanoff said that the car that struck Molina was impounded. He could not answer whether that vehicle was speeding, as the “investigation is ongoing.” He was joined by Assemblyman Ed Ra, who expressed confidence in the traffic study and Giuffre’s efforts to make this road a priority for the county.
A few hours before this meeting, another busy county road in West Hempstead was in the news, but with less tragic results. “I was running from my house on Gaynor Place to Nassau Boulevard, trying to cross to the pond,” said Ariel Dori. “I’m always very careful with cars, there was nothing coming in my direction.”
Unexpectedly, a late-model white SUV-type vehicle made a U-turn and struck him. It ran over Dori’s foot, and when he screamed, the driver sped away. Local Hatzalah volunteers took Dori to Winthrop University Hospital where he was treated for four fractures in his ankle.
The stretch of Nassau Boulevard at Halls Pond Park is a third of a mile in length between two traffic lights. Between these two signals is Halls Pond Park and Chabad of West Hempstead, both of which have plenty of visitors on Shabbos. Without crossing stripes, stop signs, or traffic lights at any of the four streets that intersect Nassau Boulevard facing the park, families must either wait, or run quickly to reach the other side.
“Many accidents have taken place on Nassau Boulevard, and we’ve made many phone calls over the years,” said Rabbi Yossi Lieberman, the Chabad shliach to West Hempstead. “Nothing was done then, and nothing is being done now.”
By Sergey Kadinsky