Richmondville: Slow down!


By Jim Poole

Richmondville Mayor Kevin Neary has two words for drivers on his village's Main Street:
Slow down!
Mayor Neary's on a quest to get speed limits lowered on Main Street because of children walking to and from Radez School.
One issue is that Main Street in also Route 7, and the state Department of Transportation controls speed limits on state roads.
Although DOT has turned down Mayor Neary's requests before, DOT may offer some relief this time.
Concerned about speeding for several years, Mayor Neary believes the speed-limit signs on the east and west sides of the village aren't a deterrent to drivers.
Cars coming from the west don't slow down quickly enough, Mayor Neary said. Also, eastbound drivers who are near the school can easily see the 55 MPH sign only a few hundred yards away, and they speed up quickly.
It's that 55 MPH sign that may be changed, according to Dave Hamburg, DOT's public information officer for Region 9.
He said Monday "it looks promising" that DOT would lower the 55 to 45. The change would come when DOT finishes a study; then the state Department of State must approve the change.
Mr. Hamburg said the 45 MPH sign could come in the spring.
That's not the only problem, though, Mayor Neary said, adding that drivers from the east don't slow down quickly enough entering the village.
There have been some accidents. Speeders have hit parked cars, and one driver nicked a crossing guard near Radez.
"The crossing guard was hit on the hand," Mayor Neary said, "and we have trucks speeding by and not paying attention."
He wanted a flashing sign that indicates drivers' speeds similar to one on both sides of Worcester Central School--also on Main Street.
"That really draws your attention," Mayor Neary said.
Two years ago, Richmondville applied for a DOT grant to get a similar flashing sign that would also record license plates to catch speeders. DOT rejected the application.
Compounding the problem is that Richmondville has no police force and little or no enforcement of speed limits. But Mayor Neary feels signs and other measures can help.
He'll now approach Creating Healthy Places, a state Health Department Program. Schoharie County's Creating Healthy Places has developed plans improved streets for pedestrians in Cobleskill, Sharon Springs and Blenheim.
New crossing areas, speed limits and rules and regulations, all to encourage pedestrian safety, are the work of Creating Healthy Places in other villages.
Mayor Neary emphasized that safety concerns in Richmondville aren't new. The village plows all sidewalks for residents and pedestrians, and the village pays for the Radez crossing guard.
Recognizing that DOT is also concerned about safety, he wants to contact the state again about the flashing sign and other speed-limit signs.
"I know DOT has a lot to deal with," he said. "But we're both working for the same people. Sometimes the idea of logic doesn't work too well in government."
Mr. Hamburg said DOT is studying the spacing of signs on Route 7 in Richmondville but is unlikely to change speeds on signs other than the 55 MPH one.
Mayor Neary, however, believes that communities on state roads should have a say about speed limits.
"Can't we as a village regulate speed on our own Main Street? I think we should be able to," he said.