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 

Nicholas August 29, 2012 at 09:59 AM
The question that everyone ignores is where have the 2,000 cars that allegedly used Newport Drive gone? They have not vaporized they are using other streets, namely Duryea and Pascack. So basically Newport Drive Residents have pushed their problems onto their neighbors. Newport Drive has been a through street since 1982. And sadly what has been missing from this discussion is any understanding from Newport Drive Residents or the Clarkstown Board of the imposition and the unsafe conditions that they have imposed on other streets. Why is one street's safety anymore important than another? Supervisor Gromeck stated that the process has been ongoing for two years. But at no time during those years did anyone give any consideration as to where the traffic would go. The supervisor, in response to the petition from the Duryea area, quickly organised a police count, but as he stated to me it will have no affect on the foregone decision to permanently close Samuel Road. When you buy a house you accept the traffic and road conditions that prevail. Certainly you can work to improve things, but draconian actions, such as the installation of this barrier, without any formal traffic study is ridiculous and pushing your problems onto your neighbors is unconscionable.
Boardwatcher August 29, 2012 at 11:23 AM
Speed bumps?
Will McAvoy August 29, 2012 at 11:33 AM
How about a crack down on cell phone use while driving.
Don August 29, 2012 at 12:00 PM
Last night's meeting with the legislature was a makes it easy to understand why Rockland is in the shape that it's in. Ed Day, Chris Carey, and Frank Sparaco were the only ones who believed that we should not be wasting County time and taxpayer dollars on this since there is already a Chestnut Ridge lawsuit. The resolution was passed by the County without even attemptng to find out what research was done by Clarkstown, knowing the facts behind the issue, and without getting more information on the barricade. Furthermore, it was passed because the County felt that Clarkstown had put up a barricade without seeking a permit from the County. “Road closures under NYS Highway law require a permit from the County Superintendent of Highways and in this case, Clarkstown did not seek a permit from Rockland’s Superintendent Skip Vezzetti and therefore, is clearly in violation of state law," said Ramapo Legislator Ilan Schoenberger. That issue was not even discussed once last night! Rep. Moroney couldn't be bothered returning the many phone calls and responding to letters that were sent by his constituents. Now we have a County Legislature that feels that they have to oversee two towns that have a disagreement about a town road closure, the equivalent of putting children in a time-out when they don't get along. And prior to voting, Ed Day advised his colleagues to being viewed negatively by the public because of the in-fighting,
INTHEKNOW August 29, 2012 at 03:11 PM
So glad that with Rockland County circling the drain, selling off buildings just to cover payroll, a bond rating one step above "junk status", and having to borrow 30 million just to meet expenses, that Ilon has so much time to deal with the really important issues, like a road closure on a relatively minor side street. Where was Aney Paul... the one time in her legislative career she actually has the chance to do something for her constituents, and she was absent?
Don August 29, 2012 at 03:45 PM
She was there for most of the meeting, but disappointingly was not present when it came time to vote - and she is on the Public Service Committee. Wolfe, who is on the committee also was not present. It would have been interesting to see his vote, because two years ago a town road was closed in the Village of Montebello, his own district.
Don August 29, 2012 at 04:05 PM
* Public Safety Committee
Linda Sabaj August 29, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Hey, I live on the same kind of street close to Newport Dr., same problem. I want a gate too. Let's put gates on all the streets. We'll all live in 'gated communities', very impressive. Next, figure out a way for emergency workers to carry several hundred keys on their belt key chains without their pants falling down, and pay more workers comp for lumbar stress. See any rabbits yet? (rabbit hole) Where am I going with this? Not nearly as far as others. I have believed for awhile anyone running for, or appointed to public office, should take a 'civil service' exam which entails IQ and common sense. This silliness could be avoided. There are better ways our hard earned dollars can be spent in this economy with people going hungry, perhaps even on Newport Drive. Our highway 'technologists' can be transformed into 'magicians' with some blacktop and a sign like 'Caution, Speed Bump ahead that will remind you of your last trip to Great Adventure' (ad lib of course). Just ask your teenager. They'll be able to recite all major locations of other effective speed bumps in Rockland County. Then our local officials can get back to more pressing issues, i.e. lawn length, regulating garage sales, etc. Driving through the gate in an emergency? Hello! Dukes of Hazard rerun? A final thought, this should impress on us the importance of voting for those who are endowed with both IQ and common sense.
Smitty Chesterfield August 29, 2012 at 04:40 PM
yes linda, you are right. there are more pressing issues like home that always have junk piles on their front porch and in their driveway. certainly an eyesore and an embarrassment to neighbors. the town inspectors can get on those pressing issues. just sayin'
XYZ123 August 29, 2012 at 05:36 PM
I am a complete outsider. I do not live there nor do I use the roads mentioned in this neighborhood. Having said that, it would seem the best solution is to put in a few speed bumps. Speed bumps will satisfy both sides of the argument. It would make the residents happy because cars can no longer speed down the road and users of this street will have access to the road. It would definitely eliminate the lawsuits that are causing taxpayer's money. If the volume of traffic does not warrant speed bumps (simple deterrent), then how does it justify road closure (drastic measure) for low traffic volume?
Watchdog August 29, 2012 at 06:21 PM
NOW people on Dorsher want THEIR road posed.....
Kim Tran (Editor) August 29, 2012 at 08:08 PM
I have a second article coming that addresses this. Gromack said last night that speed bumps don't work because people would still speed up to the bump, slam on their brakes, go over it and then speed up to the second bump and repeat
Maryann August 31, 2012 at 12:39 AM
Linda, I'm quite familiar with your street, and I don't believe that you suffer the same speeding and volume issues that Newport Drive does. It was only a matter of time until someone was killed here. As for closing Samuel, it was always a dead end. It was only opened to provide secondary egress for the residents of Newport Drive when the second phase of the development was built. When Loeser was opened for the Vincent Drive development, that rendered Samuel redundant and unnecessary. As for emergency responders, it's a complete lie. Responders from Nanuet don't go to Chestnut Ridge. If, for some reason they were requested as SECOND responders, they would not travel via Samuel, but on Pascack. As for the legislature, go tend to your own house before you throw rocks at someone else. Junk bond status vs. the Town of Clarkstown which has a AAA bond rating. I don't see Clarkstown closing public facilities to pay bills. And yet the legislature can waste their time and our money to sue the town on a town matter. Legislator Moroney is a disgrace. All he has done is yammer on about public safety, but he hasn't bothered to return the phone calls or emails of one Newport Drive resident. He says he's concerned about all his constituents, but apparently not. This is an excuse for him to spit in Gromack's eye, and he has seized on this ridiculous issue to do so. I was told that this is a town matter, so leave it in the town's hand.
Concerned September 01, 2012 at 08:06 PM
Maryann, Maroney is a politician. You had 40 sigs on your petition. We had 167 for my neighborhood (Lillian) and 50 from the folks around Duryea. 217 vs 40. Last I looked we were a democracy. Will of the many vs the few. All of us are his constituents. Who do you think he is going to side with? The issue is that the barrier crosses the line between two towns. Clarkstown did not take into account how the closure would effect the surrounding area. Just cause there is a town line does not mean you don't have to take the surrounding area into account. We already had the same issues as you on Lillian. Now this closure has doubled the volume on my street and thus the threat to our families. Closing a road that has been in existence for about 30 years is not the solution. Pushing your problems on to your neighbors is not the solution (and yes, we in Chestnut Ridge are your neighbors too). Samuel was never connected to give your street secondary egress. Samuel was constructed right up to the town line with no turn around. It was never designed to be a dead end just like Newport was never designed to be one. Our neighborhood was built first and it was there awaiting the other side to be built. I have the original plans and drawings for the streets. Stop signs on your street were approved by the town board earlier this year. The stop signs were approved along with several other signs. The others were put in. Why were the stop signs not installed and tried first?
Maryann September 01, 2012 at 09:34 PM
First of all, you are confusing our petition with Mr. Miller's. Secondly, I thought that politicians were supposed to listen to ALL their constituents, not just the ones that make the most noise. Third, the stop signs were not approved for Newport Drive, they were approved for the cul-de-sacs that empty onto Newport and the traffic study proved that they would not have helped because the volume didn't come from the cul-de-sacs. Fourth, if these disgustingly selfish speeders had acted more "neighborly", then none of us would have a problem, would we?? Fifth, the county has no jurisdiction here, It's a town issue, at least that's what I was told when I contacted Legislator Moroney's office asking for help. Funny how he helps some, and not others.
Don September 01, 2012 at 09:54 PM
Concerned, let me ask you a question. Of the 167 people that signed your petition (I'm assuming they do not all live on Lillian), how many signed it because they were now inconvenienced by the closure of Samuel (meaning their shortcut was taken away), vs. the reason that you may have signed it? Because if we looked at those signatures, I'm guessing we can reduce that 167 number quite drastically. The people that signed the Newport petition all did for one reason - safety. And I'm pretty willing to be that if we started a "Keep Samuel Rd Closed" petition, we can exceed the original number SIGNIFICANTLY. I'm willing to bet I can even get some signatures from people on the Chestnut Ridge side of Samuel Rd who are happy with it. Samuel Rd was getting 1,500 cars per day. I do recall someone on Samuel posting on an earlier article that they are very happy with the reduction due to the barricade.
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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