Central Greenwich Feedback to DPW: “We’ve Talked about the Same Intersections for 20 Years”

Thursday night was the third in a series of Greenwich Dept of Public Works input session for residents to share hot spots for pedestrian and traffic safety.

Among the town officials taking feedback were Jim Michel, Michael Kiselak and Gabriella Circosta-Cohee from the Dept of Public Works, Pat LaRow from P&Z, and Greenwich Police Deputy Chief Kraig Gray who runs parking services.

Mr. Kiselak said in addition to the good turnout at the meetings so far, they had received 200+ comments through the DPW web portal.

Despite the BET not including the town’s $100,000 match for a $500,000 federal grant, the First Selectman and DPW have said they plan to request an interim appropriation in June.

To qualify for many grants, the town needs to have a plan for safety in place. The idea for the forums was to use the information from neighborhood input sessions to inform the plan – but until work on the plan is funded, it’s moot.

Nevertheless, many people turned out in person or via Zoom for Thursday’s meeting, which featured a number concerns about Hillside Road and surrounding streets in the GHS neighborhood.

Many will remember how in 2017, the town re-striped a stretch of Hillside Rd, pushing over the double yellow line as a traffic calming measure.

As a result, Ashley Cole from 11 Hillside Rd, said she took her life in her hands just to get her mail.  Since the re-striping, cars headed north are forced right along the curb.

Cole, who participated on the committee that studied traffic in the area, urged the town to proceed with plans for a second egress.

“GHS would never pass Planning & Zoning today – with only one way in and out,” Cole said.

Re-striping on Hillside Rd in 2018. Photo: Leslie Yager

“All I have to say is 16-year-old drivers and harried parents – there are safety issues and yet we’ve done nothing. How can we come up with solutions from professionals, have a study, and still do nothing about them?” she asked.

“Many times a day I’m almost hit by drivers on Hillside. Just a couple weeks ago we had an accident. We have too many people going too fast and too many kids in the area. If impacts Fairfield, Brookridge and Old Church Road too.”

Crash on Hillside Road. April 10, 2024

Steve Miller, from 58 Hillside Road, said he participated on the same committee as Ms Cole, and elaborated on her points.

“The largest concentration of inexperienced and harried drivers at any given time of day, and the least amount of enforcement. No matter how many times enforcement is asked for – whether it be double parking, kids crossing the street during school hours, whether it be people making u-turns, left turns in the middle of the street, people making left turns into the school without regard that not everybody is turning into the school and some people are going straight – it doesn’t matter. The police are only there to make sure the buses get in and out.”

Mr. Miller said there were occasions it was a challenge to get out of his own driveway.

“When we call about people parking from 66 Hillside Rd all the way down to the parking area, there is no response. Then you find out you’re not the only one who called, and it feels there’s a blatant disregard. GCDS sends its overflow for events to Hillside. The (skating club) rink has an email it sends to members that says if you can’t find a space, park on Hillside Rd. The police officer at GCDS directs people to park on Hillside.”

“What we need is less of these meetings but people to execute and protect the people of this town,” Miller added.

Debbie Appelbaum from Deerfield Lane said there was an overall shortage not only of sidewalks, but shoulders along roadways. She pointed out that children who live less than two miles as the crow flies don’t qualify for bus transportation to GHS and are required to walk or get their own transportation.

“If I walk from Greenwich Library to GHS, I have to traverse the Post Road at least two or three times to stay on a sidewalk,” she said.

Jenny Larkin said when she lived at 3 Hillside in 2015, she was broadsided coming out of her driveway because a driver hadn’t obeyed the no right on red sign, and turned from East Putnam Ave onto Hillside without stopping. She noted there was a lot of both pedestrian and vehicle traffic, as well as a crosswalk at the intersection.

Vin DiMarco, co chair of the Selectman’s Active Transportation Task Force and member of the RTM Transportation committee, agreed the GHS issues should be priority, noting the BOE long-term plan called for action around the second egress to the campus.

“I don’t expect we’ll see fewer people driving until there are safe alternatives to get to GHS,” he said. “There is money available. The BET needs to be convinced.”

Traffic backed up in both directions at the intersection of Hillside and East Putnam Avenue. Aug 31, 2017 Photo: Leslie Yager

Traffic backed up in both directions at the intersection of Hillside and East Putnam Avenue. File photo

Bob DeAngelo, Mr. DiMarco’s co-chair, said he feared a student in the crosswalk will get hit by a car.

“When I was at Greenwich High School, I wasn’t always thinking straight – there will be a kid who pushes the button, sees the green man and jumps off the curb. As a driver, it’s downhill coming down (East Putnam Ave) and I see them running the red light.”

Intersection of Northfield and Patterson

Meg Kelly described area around the intersection of Patterson and Northfield as dangerous despite many Greenwich Academy and Brunswick students using it to cut through.

“The dangerous strip of street,” she said. “There are no sidewalks…It’s a curvy road, supposedly a 20mph speed limit and, parking is available on both side of the street, but it’s usually commercial (vehicles). And the shrubbery is overgrown.”

Maple Ave

Miriam Kreuzer from Maple Ave said speeding was a serious issue, particularly drivers taking a left from East Putnam Ave to Maple to get to North Street en route to the Merritt Parkway.

“Cars will often go 40 to 45 mph, and I thank the police for occasionally parking at the Coffee for Good parking lot to nab some of the worst offenders,” she said. “There is a crosswalk up at Brunswick where nobody stops where the road goes from two lanes to one lane. A lot of kids park at The Woman’s Club or church parking lot, they walk to Brunswick and Greenwich Academy, if someone does stop, the person in the other lane will plow right through and not realize (the first car) is stopping.”

She described the intersection of Maple, North Maple and Patterson and North Street as notorious.

“It’s not a matter of traffic, it’s a matter of function,” she said.

Glen Road/Skylark Rd/Carleton Street

Karen Fassuliotis of Glen Road said she’d spoken to neighbors in the area of Glen Road/Skylark Rd/Carleton Street and shared their feedback.

“In my neighborhood we do not support sidewalks of any kind,” she said. “Although we do have speeding cars through cut-throughs from the kids, that could be solved by police enforcement of speeding.”

Fassuliotis relayed that one of her neighbors said they wanted licensing for bike riders and police enforcement against bike riders.

“Many of them ignore the rules of the road and frequently ride in packs and ignore the rules of the road,” she said, adding that bike riding in the streets should be discouraged and riders should ride in parks.

As for speed cameras, which were discussed earlier in the day at the Selectmen meeting and an RFP for a vendor to study locations and install/monitor them, starting in school zones, Fassuliotis said she vehemently opposed them.

“I personally do not favor traffic cameras in town. As a New England Yankee our personal freedoms are paramount,” Fassuliotis said.

JoAnn Messina of Perryridge Road said, “Unfortunately we’ve been talking about some of these same intersections for 20 years, and the traffic has only gotten worse. On Perryridge, the area around the hospital, the #1 recommendation is that the parking signage on Perryridge is not very clear. It’s ambiguous and people from the hospital park on the street all day and night, which is allowed but the signage needs to be clearer.”

Park Ave

Margaret Butler, a 42 year resident of Park Ave said it served as a cut through to from East Putnam Ave to North Street and results in abundant speeding.

“Occasionally in the 1980s we had police there – hiding in Christian Science Church – that worked, but I haven’t seen anyone in the last decade or two.”

She said she’d like to organize an event to clean the street signs which were so dirty they can’t be seen.

Greenwich Avenue

Henry Orphys said since the police were taken away from Greenwich Aveneu it had become much more dangerous for pedestrians.

“I see no additional benefit to safety from the bump outs. My proposal is when you have automobiles and pedestrians in that great a number, some sort of traffic control is necessary – either police to direct traffic or stoplights with walk signs.”

“I’ve seen cars drive through the stop signs despite pedestrians waiting to cross. Maybe this (behavior) comes from Covid, but the pattern seems to be worse now.”

Bumpouts at Greenwich Ave and Elm Street. File photo

Speeding through Bruce Park

Liz Lindy said she often walks in Bruce Park, but noted cars travel at up to 50 mph there, especially when I95 has heavy traffic.

“They’ll go as fast as they can,” she said. “It’s a raceway.”

Dangerous Crosswalks

Kevin Eng from Field Point Road, pointed out two risky crosswalks, the first one being outside town hall.

“You press the button and no one stops,” he said. “I have to wait for all the traffic to subside.”

“The other is at West Elm and Benedict. It’s a short road, but people go through there very quickly and they ignore the crosswalk.”

Another resident described the intersection with crosswalks at the bottom of the hill at Sound View / Arch Street / Railroad Ave.

Speeding, Distracted Drivers on Mason and Milbank

Kristin DeGroat described herself as “100% pedestrian.”

“I Live on Milbank and walk to Greenwich Ave to work. Often at the corner of Havemeyer and Mason, by the police and fire departments, people come toward me turning left on Mason, I’ve almost been hit three times – at 8:00am, so they should see me.”

“I see people with their phone on their steering wheel, clearly distracted. That’s egregious. Also I’ve had experience of people pulling out of their driveway on Mason Street and I’ve almost been hit.”

She suggested reducing the speed limit throughout central Greenwich.

See also:

Outpouring of Cos Cob Traffic & Pedestrian Safety Concerns Despite Uncertainty over Funding for Study

April 11, 2024

Residents Urge Town to Add Crosswalks, Sidewalks, Enforcement in Old Greenwich & Riverside

March 21

Speed Cameras, Enforcement with Fines Discussed by Board of Selectmen

April 26, 2024

DPW: Hillside Road by GHS Was Re-Striped As Traffic Calming Measure

Feb 19, 2018