Although no single, major issue dominated this month's North Bellmore Civic Association meeting held on Jan. 11, board members and residents discussed a number of community-related topics.
The Problem Oriented Police (POP) presented their monthly crime report. Officers Robert Segretto and Maureen Beccaris said that area crimes included one home burglary, a few convenience store thefts, and two grand larcenies of automobiles. Segretto encouraged community members to let their neighbors know if they were leaving their homes unoccupied while away on vacation. He urged residents to help prevent cars from being stolen by making sure not to leave car engines idling to warm them up in their driveways or while stopping at a store.
"I know it's cold out, but don't leave vehicles running," Segretto added.
North Bellmore resident Sal Sanseverino asked the officers about the county's red light cameras.
"Is it a legal ticket?," he asked. Officer Segretto said the tickets are indeed legal, and are set up at "high accident areas" to ensure that drivers come to a complete stop at right-on-red corners as well as red lights. "Just be cautious," he said, "If a light is yellow, come to a stop." "It just seems like harassment to me, just a means for the county of getting money," Seververino said. "It's like Big Brother is watching, and I have a problem with that concept."
Another resident, Tom Seery, questioned the length of time the lights stay yellow. Officer Segretto said the duration of the signal is based on the size of the intersection. Dan Yngstrom of Nassau County Legislator Dave Denenberg's office explained that the county did not shorten the time span of the yellow lights to raise revenue. He said that the private company providing the red light camera services is paid upfront fees as opposed to per ticket revenue, so there is no incentive to increase the number of violations.
"Just because the flash goes off does not mean you will get a ticket," Yngstrom added, noting that the company and the Traffic & Safety Board both screen the images. Using the ticket number and a pin number on the ticket, he explained, motorists can go online to the Traffic and parking Violations Agency to view a video of their particular violations.
Police, when asked, had no news about the investigation into the arson that caused the fire that gutted the former Smithville Café. On another note, Association Vice President Bob Podolski suggested that residents call 911 whenever suspicious activity occurs, but that they may ask the operator that their names not be mentioned in radio calls.
Yngstrom gave a brief update about a Town of Hempstead press conference held earlier in the day related to the Aqua Water pricing situation and its plan to form a task force for reconstituting a local Water Authority to consider a takeover of the company. Aqua's rates have skyrocketed in recent years, outpacing comparable charges in nearby communities. At the meeting, Legislator Dave Denenberg later elaborated on the issues. See the story, Town to Investigate Aqua Takeover for more information. Jay Reinhardt, Town of Hempstead Water Commission, said the town is reaching out to residents to serve on the task force. He encouraged residents to contact Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray's office if interested in serving.
Martha Verdi, Membership Representative for the was introduced as the association's new liaison with local businesses.
No further update was available on the possible occupancy of the former Rite Aid building on the corner or Jerusalem Avenue and Peapond Road. A medical group is looking into using the site.
Environmental activist Lisa Schary asked if bus stops along the revitalization area on Jerusalem Avenue could include awnings or benches, as is the case in other communities such as Wantagh. NBCA President Reinaldo Nunez suggested that is usually accomplished by having business sponsors involved. He asked Mrs. Verdi to see if Chamber members might be interested.
Resident Vinnie Franco offered an update on the Walk in Love for Jesus Church, whose zoning as an untaxed religious institution will come before the Town of Hempstead BZA's Board of Appeals within the next several months. He also objected to a Nassau County Police sector car escorted a "frivolous" church-sponsored holiday caroling vehicle parade during a snowstorm. He complained that the "moving caravan of cars" jeopardized snow removal. Changing courses, Franco also read a statement from the parents of James Clare, the Mepham teenager who lost his life recently, urging community members to take a stand against substance abuse.
In other news, a nominating committee is forming.
The next meeting is Monday, Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. at the North Bellmore Library. Among the topics scheduled is an progress report about the renovated Belair Care Center.
The association welcomes new members, suggestions for topics and speakers, and ideas for fundraising.