Jul 13, 2012
Paving But No Turning
A few months ago we wrote an editorial urging the County to start proactively paving some of our major streets here in The Five Towns that were starting to wear down a bit. We’re delighted that a big chunk of Broadway from Woodmere Boulevard all the way east to the triangle where the street meets-up with West Broadway is being completely repaved from curb-to-curb. The intersection of Broadway and Woodmere Blvd was showing serious signs of disintegration. We’re also pleased that the work is taking place overnight from 8:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. (see news story this issue) so as not to choke-off this important east-west artery during working hours. We’re also pleased that the Department of Public Works hopes to complete the project within a few weeks.
Where we’re a little less enthusiastic that in the course of repaving the street there is no plan on the boards whatsoever to install a turn lane for the intersection of Franklin Avenue and Broadway in Hewlett. We’re written about the “Franklin Avenue Choke Point” several times in this space and how this is the knot in Broadway’s “tie” that strangles the easy flow of traffic and in fact is one of the primary causes of traffic backing-up more than a mile all the way to Woodmere at key hours. It is one of the prime irritants for area residents trying to travel between Hewlett and Woodmere. We have asserted here that the hellacious traffic caused by that inefficient intersection is a cause of Downtown Woodmere’s economic blight as consumers from points east are loathe to travel in Woodmere’s direction to shop.
This would have been a perfect time to re-imagine that intersection in some way and not just pave-over the problem, so to speak. We still advocate turning that stretch of Broadway into a one-way street and doing to the same to West Broadway in the opposite direction so as to accommodate motorists who need to get to the Hewlett train station and not disrupt the flow of traffic. Right now, just one person making a left turn at rush hour can jam traffic up for a mile or more. While there’s time, we urge the DPW to re-think how lines are painted at that intersection and perhaps also install a left turn light along with a turning lane. Not to maximize this opportunity would be a colossal shame.
Also on a good note, the DPW says that it will start accepting bids next week for the repaving of Peninsula Blvd which is in sore need to resurfacing. These kinds of things demonstrate that government can get things done. Now we need that turning lane.
Freedom of Religion
Hewlett’s Reconstructionist Congregation Beth Emeth has sold their building (as we initially reported back in April) and is leaving the area. Some of the former congregation’s neighbors in Hewlett are less than happy with the new owners of the facility. We report in today’s issue that the new occupants will be a charismatic evangelical Christian organization. Some Hewlett residents are concerned that the facility at 36 Franklin Avenue will be overrun by thousands of would-be worshippers thereby exacerbating traffic problems in the area or creating new ones. Another unspoken concern is about missionary work and proselytization.
Nobody likes change in their backyards and we’re sorry to see the congregation go but at the end of the day some other institution was going to move into Beth Emeth. It could have been sold to an Orthodox synagogue or a yeshiva. Would the neighbors have been any happier at that prospect? Maybe. Maybe not. The former St. Mary’s church on Rockaway Turnpike in Lawrence is now a Hispanic church after having also been a Korean congregation and the world hasn’t come to an end. We live in a country where freedom of religion and freedom of assembly are protected by the Constitution and thank God for that. The building has zoning and fire code regulations and if Beth Emeth’s new occupants abuse those rules they’ll probably run afoul of the law but in the meantime we have to assume that they’ll turn out to be good neighbors until proven otherwise and what they do with the building is their affair so long as no laws are broken.
Letter from the State
Most every employer in the state received a letter recently from the NYS Department of Labor about an “Interest Assessment Surcharge in 2012.” The letter says, “the national recession has led to record levels of unemployed workers receiving unemployment insurance benefits. As a result, New York State has borrowed over $4 billion from the Federal Unemployment Insurance (UI) Trust Fund since 2009. New York must pay approximately $102 million in interest on these loans to the federal government by September 30, 2012. In order to pay the interest on these federal loans, New York State is required to assess a temporary charge on employers, called an Interest Assessment Surcharge (IAS).”
So, New York employers have to pay up to an additional $12.75 per employee by September 30th. Our check is in the mail. The unemployment rate in New York State is at 8.5 percent and New York has the dubious honor of being the only state among the 50 in the U.S. to have its rate go up in the past year. It was at eight percent in March 2011. In New York City the unemployment rate is 9.7 percent. These numbers don’t reflect all those people who’ve exhausted their 52 or 99 week extended unemployment benefits, all the people who’ve given-up looking for a job, all the people who are underemployed doing part-time work or have taken huge pay cuts, all the recent graduates catching rays on the beach because they can’t find a job and all the people who’ve moved out of the state in search of work. But the “private sector is doing just fine,” so our President says. More public sector jobs is the answer. Clearly.
Oh, and heaping a load of more taxes on the “two percent” of Americans earning more than $200,000 if single and $250,000 if married will surely boost the economy and bail out the government considering the revenue raised from this would only run the federal government for eight and half days. What’s missing from this equation is that for a lot of folks living here on Long Island, after taxes, $250K can turn into $125K and then there are real estate taxes and sales taxes on top of that, so it’s not the fortune the President makes it out to be. What we resent is the politics of class warfare. If you’re going to continue the Bush-era tax rates, continue them for everyone – especially for the folks who are already shouldering most of the tax burden as it is.
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