Tag Archive | "Chief Tom Fabiano"

Traffic Calmers Excited Over Prospects

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Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano and Jonas Hagen place cones for a trial of a traffic calming installation on Jermain Avenue. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

By Stephen J. Kotz

A small band of traffic calming proponents, who had gathered at the intersection of Jermain and Oakland avenues in Sag Harbor on Monday afternoon, were practically giddy as they watched, car after car, truck after truck, slow down appreciably as they approached an array of orange traffic cones that had been placed in the middle of Jermain Avenue.

“Did you see that?” “Very good!” “That’s great!” were some of the comments offered up by John Shaka of Save Sag Harbor, Susan Mead of Serve Sag Harbor, which will fund the project, and Jonas Hagen, a doctoral candidate in urban planning at Columbia University, who has been working with the two groups on an ambitious project to make Sag Harbor’s streets safer.

The traffic calming advocates, who brought their idea to the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees last fall, expect to get the official green light to proceed with a pilot project targeting four intersections when the board meets on Tuesday, June 10, At 6 p.m.

Shortly after the group had placed the cones, Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano arrived with a radar gun, which he had agreed to lend the group so they could find out if their anecdotal observations were accurate.

On Tuesday, Mr. Hagen reported that an hour long experiment that recorded the speed of 236 passing vehicles showed that with the cones in place, “the average speed reduction was 10 miles per hour, with an average of 30 mph with normal conditions and 20 mph with the cones.”

“I was definitely pleased at the 10-mile speed reduction,” said Mr. Hagen on Wednesday. “It’s a pretty good start.”

When the pilot project goes into effect, the plastic orange traffic cones will be replaced with planters—a couple of different options, including cement or terra cotta-colored plastic ones are being considered—and the pavement between them will be painted green. Crosswalks will also be painted on the pavement.

The group had originally targeted Jermain and Oakland, Main and Glover streets, Main and John streets and Jermain and Atlantic avenues near Pierson High School. For now, that intersection has been placed on hold because of logistical issues, but the group expects to replace it with another.

The group has been working with David Rhoades, a Sag Harbor civil engineer, on designing the intersections, so they will slow traffic without producing unintended bottlenecks. One of those occurred at the Main and John street corner, where the Sag Harbor Fire Department expressed concern about whether their ladder truck could navigate the corner without flattening a planter or two.

“We’re still working with the fire department on one of the intersections,” said Mr. Hagen, “but we think we fixed it. We both have the same goal in mind—and that’s safety.

“We have to make sure their vehicles can get through those intersections safely and at a speed that allows them to get to a fire, or a person who needs emergency service.”

The ultimate goal, Mr. Hagen said, is to make the village safer without making radical changes.

“Should a kid be able to walk around Sag Harbor without risking his or her life? Should a kid be able to walk around without a serious threat of being hit by a car?” he asked. “If we say, ‘yes,’ then we have to take responsibility for protecting that kid.”

School and Village at Odds Over Who is Responsible for Traffic Safety at Pierson

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Concerned community members watched Pierson Principal Jeff Nichols present possible solutions Tuesday evening.

Concerned community members watched Pierson Principal Jeff Nichols present possible solutions Tuesday evening. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

By Tessa Raebeck

Some 20 concerned parents and traffic calming proponents joined village officials and Police Chief Tom Fabiano in a traffic safety workshop hosted by the Sag Harbor Board of Education Tuesday night.

The school board asked village officials and community members to join it in a discussion “to collaboratively address traffic safety and congestion in and around the school parking lots and campus,” according to a release sent by district clerk Mary Adamczyk.

But once the meeting began, school officials said the discussion would focus solely on how to best alleviate the safety concerns surrounding pick-up and drop-off at Pierson Middle/High School, which parents and board members alike said was dangerous.

Officials from the school and the village, as well as several community members who attended, proposed many ideas, both as quick fixes and long-term solutions, but not one measure was implemented or even agreed on by the end of the two-hour meeting.

Calling the situation “a bit of a mess,” Pierson Principal Jeff Nichols said the problem occurs between about 7:12 and 7:28 a.m. and again at the end of the day, from roughly 2:25 to 2:40 p.m.

Mr. Nichols proposed a few ways he thinks the village could aid the school district in addressing the problem. The first would be to make Division Street a one-way northbound street for 15 or 20 minutes in the morning and again for 15 or 20 minutes in the afternoon to reduce the flow of traffic. The second would be for the village to provide “some sort of crossing guard” to help direct traffic during those times.

“My understanding is that’s problematic for budget reasons,” Mr. Nichols said. “So, I don’t want to put anybody on the spot with regard to that. I do think that when you go to most schools, there is a crossing guard at the facility.”

There is a village-appointed crossing guard at the Sag Harbor Elementary School during pick-up and drop-off times.

“When we work with the village and we work with the community,” said Dr. Bonuso, interim superintendent, “there’s a synergy and there are more powerful possibilities. We very much want to hear from the village. Have you heard of some of these issues?”

“Since our last meeting we had a few weeks ago,” replied Chief Tom Fabiano, “I believe we discussed the possibility of making Division Street one-way. I thought I was pretty clear about the fact that I didn’t see that as an option.”

The village has an unofficial ban on creating any more one-way streets, Trustee Ed Deyermond said, adding that recent attempts, such as on Elizabeth Street and Clinton Street, are “not working.”

“What you’re asking for is for the village to cede liability to the school for that street,” he said. “That’s not going to happen.”

The crossing guard option seemed more feasible.

School board member Sandi Kruel said as a school district, the fact there is not a school crossing guard on the property when kids are in school “to me is unacceptable.”

“If we can figure out in our budget to rearrange, then I think that’s the least you guys could do to look at your budget,” she said to Chief Fabiano.

Chief Fabiano said he has been discussing the possibility with elementary school crossing guard Kathy Carlozzi of having her aiding Pierson occasionally. Ms.  Carlozzi also attended Tuesday’s meeting.

“You can’t just put one person out there,” Chief Fabiano said, “you can’t put Kathy out there. You need a couple people out there to monitor this.”

The chief said he has asked “time and time again” for the school district to have extra personnel to monitor drop-off and pick-up, “but does it happen? No.”

School security guard John Ali is currently the only person officially manning drop-off and pick-up, although Mr. Nichols said he steps in during  warmer weather and Chief Fabiano said he helps out when he can.

“Would a crossing guard help there? Possibly. I would have to discuss it with the board next September,” Chief Fabiano said.

Mr. Deyermond said crossing guards “in this particular fiscal budget year are problematic. I don’t see us adding any crossing guards.”

The village officials in attendance agreed that while there are things the village could do, the school should also enact measures to alleviate the congestion.

“I’ve been saying this for the past 14 years that I’ve been chief. Why can’t we have a drop-off for cars on one side and the buses on the other side?” Chief Fabiano asked, referring to the parking lots at Jermain Avenue and Division Street.

“We also brought up the idea of the buses and here’s where the parents have to step in,” he added. “We’re looking at buses and they’re 75 percent empty, according to your numbers. To me, that’s a big issue. We’re spending a lot of money on buses and no one’s riding them. everyone’s dropping kids off at school.”

“This is a generic problem in a lot of schools,” Trustee Robby Stein said of the congestion, adding, “You have to get more kids on the school buses.”

On Wednesday, school business administrator John O’Keefe said, “Bus utilization varies depending on the time of year, weather, etc., but typically runs 30 to 45 percent for the five primary routes.”

Mr. Deyermond said if the entrances at the Montauk Avenue parking lot behind the school and the Jermain Avenue parking lot on its northern side were open longer for students to use and the school publicized that those entrances should be used, some of the traffic could be redirected from Division Street. Several members of the audience nodded in agreement.

“I would like to see what the school is going to do and what Larry [Salvesen, district architect] can do with the possibility of shifting all this congestion from one spot,” Chief Fabiano said. “To say, hey we designed the school and we don’t have place for drop-off…I don’t think it’s too fair to the village to say, ‘You just make it a one-way.’ That’s not the answer.”

“It is our responsibility, yes, but it’s also the responsibility of the school to start doing something,” he said.

“With a little bit of luck, we can get that crossing guard out there relatively soon, I think,” said Dr. Bonuso. “And when I say soon, I don’t mean next week or necessarily next month.”

The school board agreed to discuss the issue further to see whether there were immediate steps that could be taken. It will discuss the plans for the new parking lots at Pierson at its next regular meeting on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in the Pierson library.

Sag Harbor Trustees Cut a Cop in Draft 2013-2014 Budget

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By Kathryn G. Menu
In an effort to pare down a draft Sag Harbor Village budget for 2013-2014, trustees unveiled a new draft budget last Wednesday. In the process, they slashed what was a $8,555,361.55 spending plan — representing a 6.19 percent increase in expenditures — to $8,297,138.55, a 2.99 percent increase in spending over the approved 2012- 2013 budget of $8,056,311.01.
Of the cuts, the most debated was the reduction of a police officer from the Sag Harbor Village Police Department. With the resignation of officer Michael Gigante last year, if approved, the reduction in the police force would leave the department with 10 officers and Tom Fabiano, the department’s chief.
The police department budget was reduced by $250,848 in regards to full time personnel in the budget worksheet handed out at the village board’s meeting on Wednesday, March 6. According to Mayor Brian Gilbride, that money represents the salaries of Gigante and another officer, who would be terminated under the budget. It also reduces any anticipated salary increases for this fiscal year and 2013-2014 to zero percent. An additional $26,000 is also reduced from that budget allowing for no increases in longevity or night differential pay for police officers.
The fire department also had its budget cut, by $50,000, which was budgeted for a new vehicle. Harbors and docks also had its budget reduced by $3,000 in overtime expenses and $9,500 for equipment.
The new draft budget also adds $5,000 for new justice court staff, $5,905 for fire department liability insurance, $1,520 for ambulance liability insurance and $4,000 for the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce. It also includes an additional $15,986 to cover increased costs for employee retirement benefits, $46,000 to cover anticipated increases in police retirement benefits and $25,000 as a cushion for health care increases.
“I am a little concerned about losing a guy,” said Fabiano at the meeting. “This is all news to me. It is an extremely important thing to discuss with a department head.”
Fabiano noted two state studies completed about the police department stated the department was understaffed with 12 full time officers.
“And now you are taking another person away,” he asked.
Fabiano said instead of getting rid of an officer the village should be looking at what is creating higher health insurance and retirement costs and look at reforms that can help fix those systems.
Gilbride said police are the only village employees who do not contribute to their health care. Total retirement costs for the department is estimated in this projected budget at $509,617, he added.
“If they contribute, then that saves a guy,” asked Fabiano.
“If it is me, right now, no,” said Gilbride, adding he wants to shave another 1.5-percent off the budget to leave spending increases at around 1.5 percent in total.
“I have 11 guys who can just barely cover the shifts now, throughout the whole year, not just in the last two months,” said Fabiano. “You have to look at the whole year.”

The next budget work session will be held on Wednesday, March 20 at 4 p.m.

Chief Speaks on Contract

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For Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano, the decision to enter the profession of law enforcement came after he thrived as a member of the Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance Corps.

“I liked helping people, dealing with people,” said Fabiano, seated in his office at the police department on Division Street.

So, 35 years ago when Sag Harbor Village Police Chief John Harrington offered Fabiano the opportunity to take a part-time job with the department, complete with “an old, bent 38” caliber gun, the Sag Harbor native jumped at the opportunity.

“I love this job, I love Sag Harbor,” said Fabiano. “I would hate to see anything happen to this police department. It has been here since the 1800s.”

Some members of the Sag Harbor Village Board have recently called the future of the village police department into question. The village and the Sag Harbor Police Benevolent Association (PBA) have reached a stalemate in contract negotiations with both sides calling the other unreasonable.

For over a month now, Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride has pursued proposals from other police agencies like departments in East Hampton and Southampton as well as from the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department.

While village trustees have often sought comparisons in contract negotiations, Fabiano said the atmosphere this time is different and there is definitely a feeling the Sag Harbor Village Police Department is in real peril.

Losing the department would be a detriment to the community, said Fabiano, noting his officers have one of the best response times on the East End and are truly a part of Sag Harbor.

“We are involved members of this community and everyone knows us here,” he said. “My door is open 24-hours a day and everyone knows that.”

“Do we really want to lose control of our own police department,” added Fabiano, noting that communities like Greenport Village, which disbanded its police department and is serviced by Southold Police Department, could see more comprehensive police coverage with their own department.

“So is this a good direction to move in – in my opinion, no,” said Fabiano.

Fabiano said many residents have come out in support of the department.

“They can’t believe this is even being discussed,” he said. “And within those discussions a lot of people have said they also don’t think the PBA should get everything in their proposals, which I agree with too. I am not saying I agree with the village. I don’t agree with either side. I think everyone needs to bring this down a notch and come to the table to make a deal.”

The PBA asked for a 4.5 percent increase in salary, as well as for additional changes in the police contract affecting longevity, over-time, sick and vacation leave. According to PBA President Pat Milazzo, the length of the contract would be negotiated. The last two contracts were for four and six years, he said. The village responded, offering a zero percent, one-percent and two-percent increase, which was declined. Neither party has made a counter offer, although they are scheduled to come back to the table in September.

“Their salaries are a certain rate because every day they do put on a gun, put on a vest and work over the course of 24-hour days doing different shifts, which can be hard on people,” said Fabiano. “Is this a nice area? Absolutely. It’s a beautiful place to work. Can anything happen at any time? Absolutely. You just never know.”

Fabiano said he likely would have not asked for as much in an initial proposal as the PBA did.

“I think everyone bears some responsibility here,” he said. “I think everyone has to be aware of the economy. People also have to be aware of what kind of job this is, and that these people do have homes and families as well.”

“We need to come to the table and trade ideas,” Fabiano continued. “That is how we used to do it. We would trade ideas and not leave the room until it was resolved.”

 

Safer Bike Routes Through Village

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Sinead Fitzgibbon, a member of the cyclist advocacy group Spokes People, presented the Sag Harbor village board on Tuesday evening with a map developed by village police chief Tom Fabiano outlining bike routes connecting cycling lanes in Southampton and East Hampton to new lanes in the Village of Sag Harbor.

Conceptually, the new lanes will be outlined with a shared marking lane, or sharrow, which would identify bike paths for cyclists. The new lanes would connect with Route 114 in East Hampton, bring cyclists down Hempstead Street to Bay Street, reconnecting with Route 114 outside of the village business district. On the Southampton side, cyclists would come down off the L/Cpl Jordan Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge turning right on Long Island Avenue. From there cyclists could either connect with Glover Street meeting the Sag Harbor-Bridgehampton Turnpike — where Fitzgibbon said another bike path was imminent — or take Long Island Avenue to Bridge Street connecting to Madison and Main streets just past the center of the village.

Chief Fabiano, who helped Fitzgibbon design the safe biking routes, joined the board of trustees in opposing any bike routes down Main Street in the center of the village business district.

According to Fitzgibbon, the New York State Department of Transportation has yet to approve sharrows as appropriate markings for roadways, but she has been assured by Congressman Tim Bishop that the federal government will do so shortly and the state will likely follow.

Chief Fabiano will seek the opinion of traffic consultants Dunn Engineering on the sharrows and said additional signage will be necessary to educate cyclists on the proper bike paths.