Safety study for Pine Brook? An ad hoc group of residents pleaded with the Larchmont Board of Trustees on October 5 for a comprehensive, expert assessment of conditions in the neighborhood with the goal of improving safety for pedestrians and bicycle riders. (See: Pine Brook Residents Call for Safety Study.) Following their own meeting on October 15, with 11 of 15 members present, the Pine Brook Neighborhood Association Board of Directors said an overall study is unnecessary. Instead, they proposed a 14-point plan to improve conditions throughout the area, including the intersections identified as unsafe by the parent group.
Despite some differences with the parent group, led by residents Beth Belisle and Jenny Webb, the neighborhood association was appreciative of their initiative. “It was Beth and Jenny who got all of this going,” said Ralph Engel, one of the Pine Brook directors who had initially supported the call for a study. “The Pine Brook Association’s present focus on pedestrian and traffic safety issues is the result of their actions and focused activism,” he stressed.
Mr. Engel said the directors thought there was one intersection – the one at Stuyvesant and Mayhew – that might merit expert study, but only if the Traffic Commission does not concur with suggestions already proposed for realigning the roadway to narrow the wide curve that “allows traffic to speed around the corner.” The two streets would then meet at a 90 degree angle.
Since the Village Board meeting, Mr. Engel has walked the neighborhood with the co-chairs of the Larchmont Traffic Commission, giving particular attention to several difficult intersections along Stuyvesant and Pine Brook. The co-chairs came up with a number of suggestions on their own, said Mr. Engel. “They were quite on top of it.”
The Traffic Commission has already made some changes following their own earlier meetings with the parent group and a further study of traffic patterns. The speed limit was lowered from 30 to 25 along all of Mayhew; commercial traffic has been restricted and there is a new crosswalk and stop sign at Stuyvesant and Soundview.
The Pine Brook directors suggested additional modifications, including a number of new stop signs; the trimming of hedges at a number of intersections and the prohibition of parking on some dangerous curves. They favored installation of a new speed limit sign on Pine Brook at Palmer, but they believe a “No Through Trucking” sign to be unnecessary. (See the entire list.)
The directors disagree with the parent group over using the traffic island for pedestrian crossing at Pine Brook and Stuyvesant. The directors asked that there be nothing added to encourage walking through the island. Landscape improvements to the island, which had been temporarily halted to consider the parents’ proposals, are now proceeding following the association’s request to move ahead.
Response to Proposals
Mr. Rothman said the association’s proposals were “thoughtful” and “constructive.” However, before making any decision, he and his colleagues on the Traffic Commission will “want to be sure that we hear from as many points of view as possible.” He noted that the Pine Brook situation “has been 50 years in the making. We don’t want to delay, but we also don’t want to be hasty.” The commission will consider the proposal at its next meeting on November 10.
Trustee Richard Ward, who was tasked by Mayor Liz Feld with getting input on the issue from official and neighborhood sources had a similar reaction. He said the association’s proposal “should be combined along with all the other suggestions that have been made – and considered in due course.” He will be soliciting feedback from police, fire and traffic officials in addition to the neighborhood groups and individual residents. “This should be an open and fair process,” he stressed.
Reached for comment on the director’s plan, Ms. Webb said, “Great! Whatever serves this neighborhood is fantastic: we just want it to be safer.” She explained that she and Ms. Belisle are just “two moms who know a lot of moms and dads who want safer ways to walk around here.”
Ms. Belisle concurred, “I don’t care how it gets done – study or not – if the Traffic Commission can come in and make it safer through signage, through stop signs, through crosswalks – that would be terrific.”
However, the two continue to believe that an expert assessment of the Stuyvesant intersections would be valuable. Ms. Belisle said, “While the proposals sound good, there might be better ones” that a traffic professional “with fresh, expert eyes” might recommend. “It’s been expressed to me that this is really complex,” she said, describing impressions reached after two meetings with the Traffic Commission.
Ms. Webb and Ms. Belisle are continuing with a survey of residents near three intersections long-viewed as problematic: Stuyvesant where it crosses Mayhew, Pine Brook and Iden. Asked by the Village Board for more resident feedback, the two will be bringing results of the survey to the next board meeting. That meeting has been moved to November 2 (from the 9th).