UPDATE: County and Clarkstown Debate Samuel Road Closure

After more than two hours of discussion over the Nanuet road closure, some legislators made a motion to rescind the lawsuit resolution. However, it did not pass with a 3-2 vote against it.



Earlier this month, the the Rockland County Legislature against Clarkstown for closing Samuel Road in Nanuet without proper approval from the county's superintendent of highways. 

In response to this, by several Clarkstown officials speaking out against the county's actions and recently, Clarkstown PBA President John M. Hanchar about the legislature's resolution in which blame was placed on police officers for "unlawful actions of some motorists."

This—along with from the public—led to a discussion last night at the county’s Public Safety Committee meeting. Clarkstown representatives, residents and a Ramapo councilman attended and spoke on the issue.

After more than two hours of discussion over the Samuel Road closure, some legislators made a motion to rescind the lawsuit resolution. However, it did not pass with a 3-2 vote against it.

From those on the county public safety committee, Legislators Jay Hood, Toney Earl and Aron Wieder voted no, Chris Carey and Ed Day voted yes and Aney Paul and Alden Wolfe were absent.

Clarkstown closed the road after pleaded with the Clarkstown Town Board to put a stop to the speeders driving through their Nanuet neighborhood.  the excessive speed and volume of vehicles puts their children and them at risk each day. 

“I appreciate that (Clarkstown representatives) came out this evening to try and resolve this,” said Legislator Pat Moroney, who represents both sides of the barricade—Nanuet and Chestnut Ridge.

Clarkstown Supervisor Alex Gromack was joined by Principal Town Planner Joe Simoes, Code & Zoning Enforcement Officer Joel Epstein, Police Chief Michael Sullivan and several others.

Public Safety

Many legislators said that the decision to pass the lawsuit resolution originally was due to public safety reasons.

“We were looking at it from the public safety side of it—not who owns what road; that’s why the vote was pushed so (urgently) and it couldn’t wait for the next formal meeting,” said Carey

Legislator Ilan Schoenberger said that he believed that barricading the road was the wrong decision, whether it was done by a temporary barricade and plow or a metal gate.

The temporary road closure used . That was tehn replaced with a metal breakaway gate.

“All my life, all emergency providers … we were always told that seconds save lives, minutes save lives,” said Schoenberger. “An ambulance getting to someone’s home who’s having a heart attack, a few minutes could mean life or death.”

He quickly ran through the process for emergency personnel with the current gate, which is padlocked and keys have been distributed to emergency units:

Drive up to the barrier, stop, get out, find the key, unlock the gate, open the gate, secure the gate so that it doesn’t close back on the vehicle, drive through and do you lock the gate behind you or not?

“It undermines the whole theory of public safety,” he added. “I don’t think it’s in everybody’s best interest to blockade the road. If there is one life lost on either side or a building burns down because minutes are delayed … I just don’t think it’s the right way to go. I wish there was another resolve.”

Moroney also spoke strongly against the barricade.

“I was taken aback because of the way (the blockade) was done. I was really, really concerned at the fact that it was a safety hazard for both sides,” he said. “If (an emergency) happened on the Pascack Road side, there would be no access to Lillian Drive. There was also my concern with the Newport Drive side. If you had a real emergency, you have no access whatsoever coming from the Chestnut Ridge side. We’re here to protect all the residents of Rockland County.”

Clarkstown had from several emergency units addressing the public safety concerns.

“We said all along that once the gate was permanently installed, we would distribute the keys,” said Gromack. “In addition … (if there’s an emergency and there’s no time to unlock the gate) the gate will break away quickly. You can pretty much open it up in a few seconds or you can plow right through it (if needed).”

Gromack added that after speaking with members of the ambulance corps and fire departments, those members did not see the gate as a threat to anyone’s security or timeliness.

“(Nanuet Fire) Chief Knapp did raise the concern of the trucks but did say that if the gate was there, it was very acceptable and standard practice in the industry,” he added. Gromack also brought up a similar breakaway gate in the town of Ramapo as an example.

“The main concern out of the (Clarkstown) planning board was emergency access,” said Simoes. “I think the emergency access is being addressed.”

However, Ramapo Town Councilman Patrick Withers sided with some of the legislators speaking out against the gate.

“Seconds do matter,” said Withers. “As a former police officer … I know the men and women of the Clarkstown Police Department work well with the Ramapo Police Department. I believe in them (the police officers), but I don’t necessarily believe in the barricade.”

Check back with Patch for articles on other parts of the discussion:

  • Temporary Barricade—some legislators said that part of the reason why the lawsuit resolution was rushed was because the temporary barricade did not match the one Clarkstown described in its resolution
  • Samuel Road—The history of its dead-end status and past court proceedings that relate to this issue
  • Clarkstown Police—legislators cleared the air of any misperceived criticism on the police department
  • Public Input—Legislators said that they received a letter on Tuesday dated Aug. 25 to Scott Vanderhoef from Rockland County citizens against the blockade with a petition from 160 people demanding they remove the blockade.
  • Lawsuit—the consensus among most was that a lawsuit should not be needed to resolve this issue
  • Town VS County—some believed that this was strictly a town issue and that the county need not be involved

Correction: Legislators Jay Hood, Toney Earl and Aron Wieder voted no, Chris Carey and Ed Day voted yes. In an earlier version, it was written that Legislators Jay Hood, Toney Earl and Aron Wieder voted yes, Chris Carey and Ed Day voted no 

Concerned September 02, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Maryann, politicians are there to do the will of the majority and what is best for the good of all. This closure is endangering more people than it is helping. Its also setting a very bad presidence. Other streets are already now asking for barricades. The roads are designed and planned well in advance so that traffic from a populated area is not bottlenecked. You originally were saying the problem is speeders, now your saying volume. I cant tell you exact numbers for my street since a full traffic study was never done, but I can guarantee you the traffic volume on my street has now doubled. It was not designed for all this volume. I already lost a pet to the traffic, its only a matter of time till someone gets hurt. Don, the people on Newport just pushed their problem, one we all share, onto their neighbors. We have the same problem here. Its now increased 2 fold. No doubt some on Samuel like it. Wouldn't we all like to live on essentially a dead end street. Wait, you do now. Its not a shortcut. I have entered my neighborhood many times over the years through Newport and its not a shorter route for me. The only speeders I have ever seen on Newport turned into driveways on Newport and the side rds. Its a essential egress to our neighborhood. We would have had more sigs but had a meeting to have it in by. I previously rented a townhouse in W Haverstraw. The neighborhood had stop signs and speed bumps throughout. We never had a problem with speeders due to them.
Concerned September 02, 2012 at 06:14 PM
And I like Linda's comments. I also completely agree with Nicholas. You have to look at the entire area, not just whats on one side of the town border. The people on Newport are looking at the problem with blinders on and don't care how this effects others or how it endangers them. I also really don't think people will like having to pay to repair their $300,000 to 1 million dollar fire truck cause it had to smash through a barricade to save someone in a mutual aid call.
Maryann September 03, 2012 at 02:52 AM
They are there to do the will of the majority? Or are they there to listen to all sides? If they were there to simply do the will of the majority, then Jim Crow laws would still be in place. Again, a mutual aid call? How often has that happened? And if it does, what makes you think that the responders would take Newport to Samuel? So, we are to absorb thousands of thoughtless and reckless speeders that endanger our lives every single day because once in a blue moon, a second responder might have to use one street? Talk about myopic reasoning. Maybe you should have asked Chestnut Ridge for a traffic study. Maybe you should take up the matter with the police, as we did. Sounds like your problem is with Mayor Kobre, not with Clarkstown. And the speeders were all living on Newport? The thousands of cars that traveled an average of 44 mph in a 30 mph zone were all from the 45 houses on Newport? You're really just spouting nonsense now.
Concerned September 03, 2012 at 06:20 PM
You missed my point.."for the good of all". Yes, they are there to do the will of the majority as long as that will does not impede on the rights and protections of the minority. You have a problem, you need a solution to the problem. The issue is you didn't solve the problem, you pushed it onto your neighbors. We already had the same problem and now your road closure has amplified the issue here. So what your saying is you want the surrounding roads to "absorb thousands of thoughtless and reckless speeders that endanger" your lives every single day? What makes your lives any more important than ours? And you say I'm myopic? You just solidified my comment that Newport residences don't care how this effects others or how it endangers them. What good would a traffic study do now? The study would only give the current conditions. For a true study, the road would need to be reopened and all surrounding rds taken into account. Why didn't Clarkstown do that first? Your traffic counts, not a true traffic study, only looked at one side and not the entire area. Where in my comment did I say they all came from Newport? In my over 10 years of driving on Newport, I never saw a speeder who didn't go to a house on Newport or the side rds. True, it’s only the short time span on was on the rd, but it’s not nonsense, it’s what I saw during those times. I bet you’re the lady that was once on the side of the road waving your hands at me to slow down, and BTW I was doing less than 30.
Concerned September 03, 2012 at 06:20 PM
In the last year, I can recall at least 2 mutual aid calls. They didn't need to use Samuel because Pascack was open. Issue is what happens when Pascack floods, which it does occasionally during major weather events? Or what if the bridge on Lillian needs to be replaced, which it will eventually? The time it would take to go around Newport could be the difference between life or death. Isn’t one life worth saving? Or is your real agenda to keep the “riff raff” out of your neighborhood? Dangerous precedence this road closure is setting. Put stop signs on Newport at every intersection with speed bumps mid way between them and your speeding issue will be solved. A real solution. Then we can all go back to our lives and try to be good neighbors.


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