PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. – “Impractical,” “terrible,” “creepy” — those were the words used by Mount Pleasant, Pleasantville and Chappaqua residents Sunday to describe the proposed New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) traffic monitoring towers to be installed on the Saw Mill River Parkway.
“Around this area, there’s not too many alternate routes you can take if there’s some sort of traffic so I don’t think it’s even possible for these towers to improve traffic,” said Pleasantville resident Don Willemann. “It’s one thing to monitor traffic, but what are they going to do, watch the cars?”
More than 50 local residents in the community group "Stop DOT Towers" gathered at the United Methodist Church in Pleasantville Sunday afternoon to discuss their concerns about the traffic monitoring cameras and how they would affect their daily lives. Pleasantville Mayor Peter Scherer was in attendance, as well as District 3 County Legislator Michael Smith and former county legislator John Nonna. Willeman, along with other members of the community, gave an in-depth presentation on the towers and what will need to be done to stop the project that is scheduled to be completed by the summer of 2012.
The closed-circuit television system towers are around 125 feet high and feature a camera on top that can monitor traffic flow and accidents. The New York State DOT plans to install seven towers on the Saw Mill River Parkway – beginning from where the parkway crosses the Taconic State Parkway near Hawthorne, and ending in Chappaqua. The state DOT said traffic monitoring cameras can sense heavy congestion, show when an alternate route should be recommended and also detect accidents quickly in order to dispatch emergency forces in a timely manner. The department said the cameras do not capture personal identity information.
Deana Nelkin, who lives on Hillside Avenue in Pleasantville, is a member of Stop DOT Towers. Nelkin said the proposed towers can drastically change the look of her home.
“My husband and I built our dream home here in Pleasantville back in 2003,” Nelkin said. “And if they go through with building these towers, there practically won’t be a room in my home where I can’t look out the window and see it.”
Amy Shahinllari of Pleasantville got involved with the movement to stop the towers as soon as she heard about the project from word of mouth. Since then, she said the effort has gone viral.
“We’ve started up a Facebook group and a Yahoo group so we’re spreading the word about it that way and it’s starting to gain some momentum,” Shahinllari said.
Nelkin said the group is planning a public rally against the towers to be held at an undetermined location in March and it already received around 1,000 signatures from local residents on a petition against the towers. Although she said she realizes that getting the state to cancel the project will be a tough task, she is optimistic due to the growing support.
“We have the support of the mayor and the village and also the community so hopefully the state hears our voice,” Nelkin said.
DOT officials said earlier this month that early stages of the project have already begun, but there is no estimated timeline for the installation of the towers. The department said it recognizes the local concerns but that a suspension or alteration to the project is possible.