Alive After Five® traffic concerns continue
A past Alive After Five® event.

File photo

Alive After Five® traffic concerns continue

Story By: NICOLE ALLEGREZZA
7/13/2017


BY NICOLE ALLEGREZZA 

Alive After Five® chair James Skidmore and Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce executive director David Kennedy addressed village residents’ concerns during the last Village of Patchogue board meeting held on Monday night.

First, Kennedy announced that the first event held last Thursday, July 6, which attracted about 20,000 people, went off without a hitch, meaning no incidents occurred. 

Also, he said, signage to promote the chamber’s effort of making visitors aware of respecting the local residents when parking and walking through their neighborhoods was greatly appreciated. 

“However, there are still some concerns and tweaks need to be made to the shuttle routes and traffic patterns,” he said. “Whatever the village wants us to do we are willing to support.”

Kennedy also said the routes chosen for the shuttles were chosen purposefully to make the shuttles more attractive and usable, so that people would be more inclined to use that service again instead of parking on side streets. One shuttle went from St. Joseph’s College’s lot, down Waverly Avenue to behind the courthouse on Main Street and back. The second shuttle went from Mt. Carmel Church, down Jayne Avenue to behind the Congregational Church of Patchogue and back up Maple Avenue to Mt. Carmel Church. Every shuttle ride, he said, was full, with about 56 passengers and about a dozen or so trips made on each bus. 

Patchogue resident Tracey Calder Kaspereit said she lives on Jayne Avenue and was appalled to find out the shuttles were using her block as a throughway with cars parked on both sides of the street, leaving little to no driving room. “The shuttles going up and down my street were incredibly dangerous; no one even knew they were going to use our neighborhood for them,” she said. “I just don’t think Jayne Avenue is the right route. And parking is still horrendous. It starts as early as 4:30 p.m. and goes until about 11 p.m.”

Deputy Mayor Jack Krieger wondered what Route 112 looked like during the festival and suggested that might be a safer route, causing little to no time difference. Another resident also suggested making side streets such as Jayne Avenue one-way parking, for safety measures.

Kennedy and Skidmore agreed to those suggestions and also said they would be willing to add more shuttles to further limit side street parking.

Mary Kassner, a North Ocean Avenue resident, referred to the event as a hurricane, calm in the eye on Main Street and a storm in the surrounding area. She suggested regulating the traffic before it bottlenecks down into the village. She hoped coordinating with the Suffolk County Police would be a solution. However, Krieger said that would not be an option being how limited police resources already are.

“I appreciate the dialogue from the residents; there is no way to make this event better without it,” Skidmore responded. “I want to find a real solution working with the community.”

The goal, he said, is to continue the event so that the village doesn’t get to a point where it returns to what it was in 1995. “I don’t want the traffic and parking problem to spread, but we need to sustain the business and people who are here and we need to work together to find some sort of common ground.”

Kassner said her goal is not to cancel the event but to make it instead work for everyone. She invited Skidmore to take a ride-along outside Main Street during the next event to be held on July 20 to see the event from a different perspective. Skidmore agreed and said he was looking forward to it. 

He also said a meeting would soon be held with some concerned community members and the AAF committee to discuss further solutions. As of now, the village board is looking into instituting one-way parking on certain side streets and the chamber will be directing the shuttles down Route 112. n