Ed note: It has long been the plan of the NYS DOT to widen and "straighten" Peekskill Hollow Road. Plans called for two 12 foot lanes each with a 6 foot wide shoulder, thus doubling the width of the existing road. The County Executive has actively supported these plans and backed down only after residents on the road and those in proximity to it raised significant opposition to those plans - and with good reason.

Though it has been unfortunate that accidents have happened (read the story below) it's apparent that the County will use this issue to try to force through a widening of the entire road when the simple solution is to place guard rails in front of the Hall's home.

The State says they can't do it because that stretch of road does not meet the "requirements" for guard rails and the County insists they are "staying within the law" by not doing so. This is dangerous and unnecessary thinking on the part of an unresponsive government.

What would happen if the County acted pro-actively and placed these life-saving guard rails before the Hall home? Well, why don't we find out? The alternative, turning Peekskill Hollow Road into a high speed highway is absolutely unacceptable for man,y many reasons.

And, though this article seems to imply that the county will pit resident against resident in order to achieve the State's desire for a major connector road, it does not have to be this way if government would address the *needs of the people* and not the needs of State transportation planners in Albany.

I urge Kent Town Supervisor Bil Tulipane, himself a resident of Peekekill Hollow Road, to petition the County to solve the problem encountered by the Hall's and the County to act on that petition as soon as possible.


Harold J. Gary, Commissioner
Putnam County Highways & Facilities
842 Fair Street
Carmel New York 10512

Supervisor Bil Tulipane
Kent Town Administrative offices
531 Route 52
Kent Lakes, NY 10512



Family seeks help with speeding vehicles

(Original publication: August 21, 2004)

KENT ­ The white plastic fence that used to line the front yard of Jon and Tracy Hall's home is long gone, the victim of one of the many cars that have barreled across their lawn after missing a curve near their house.

All that remains of the fence are broken stumps ­ what were once its main posts ­ sticking out of the ground.

Since September 2000, when the Halls moved to 1416 Peekskill Hollow Road, at least five northbound cars have failed to negotiate the left-hand curve on a slight hill just south of their house and careened across their front lawn. A stone ledge above one side of their driveway then serves as a launching pad, sending the vehicles flying into the woods.

The Halls have appealed to the town of Kent and Putnam County for help but said the problem persists.

Town Supervisor William Tulipane said he was in their corner and can't understand why the county won't install a guide rail in front of the home, as the Halls have requested.

But Harold Gary, the county highway commissioner, said state regulations permit guide rails only in certain circumstances and that the Halls' situation doesn't meet the requirements.

"We have put up some speed signs and large yellow signs with arrows, indicating to motorists that the curve is ahead. We have done whatever we felt we could to address the situation while keeping within the law," Gary said. "Unfortunately, there are many places where you can't just stick a guide rail in the ground. It has to meet certain criteria. If we do put up a guide rail that doesn't meet state criteria, it becomes illegal. If someone hits it and gets injured, the county could be liable."

"What type of risk does it create for the county when they ignore a request of its citizens?" asked Tulipane, who also lives on Peekskill Hollow Road. "I've lived on that road since 1976. The people who owned the home before the Halls lost their fence (to vehicles) so many times. Mrs. Hall is now afraid to go out to her mailbox. At some point or another, the county is going to come to the conclusion that a guard rail would be a good idea if it began at the top of the curve and caught cars leaving the road and heading for the Halls' yard."

Robert Falk, acting head of maintenance for the state Department of Transportation, agreed that guide rails can be installed only in certain areas.

"There are warrants that call for when guide rails are or are not used," Falk said. "If the hazard we're trying to protect is not worse than the damage a guide rail would create, then it doesn't meet those warrants."

Tracy Hall said the accidents usually happen at night. Typically, they'll be sound asleep when they hear a loud crash. They pick up the telephone and call police to tell them that it's happened again.

On Jan. 5, 2002, a car driven by a 16-year-old Kent boy went across their lawn in the early morning, over the stone wall, then into the woods. The boy, Andrew McArdle, died.

The Halls replaced their fence, only to have it knocked down again last summer. More accidents followed in July and November of 2003, March 30 and May 23. Tire ruts from the last crash are still visible on the lawn.

"It's gotten so bad that we don't want to bother to replace the fence because it's only going to get knocked down again," Hall said. "It's a great area. We love living here, and we don't want to move. But the road is a big concern."

Now that she and her husband have two children, 3-year-old Nicholas and 4-month-old Ashley, the Halls are reluctant to let their children or any of their nieces or nephews play near the front yard.

"We have this beautiful front yard, and we're afraid to use it," she said.

As Hall spoke one day last week, holding her daughter while keeping a close eye on her son, a dump truck, an oil truck and cars rumbled by, all apparently violating the 30 mph speed limit near their home.

Neighbors Robert and Ardis Rice have lived on Peekskill Hollow Road for 18 years, across from the Halls.

"The cars come up over the bend of the hill way too fast," Ardis Rice said. "Our own mailbox has been destroyed a number of times. For my neighbor to have a guard rail would be more than helpful."

Gary, the highway commissioner, said that the county has been working on another project that could address the problem ­ widening and straightening the 11-mile road from Putnam Valley to Kent ­ but has met resistance by residents, who say it would ruin the road's rural character and could invite more development.

"We want to maintain the country atmosphere as much as possible, but people need to understand that our responsibility is to make the road safe," Gary said.

"Unfortunately, there are people on this street who feel as though the beauty and nature of the road should not be disturbed," Rice said. "Unfortunately, people are being killed."


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Wednesday, January 5, 2005