While President Kennedy's vision led him to see things as they are and to ask why, I tend to see things as they are and ask, "Huh? How come?" In walking around Port Washington the last few days, six relatively minor, yet annoying items jumped right out at me:
1. Idling engines. There are laws prohibiting engine idling in excess of five minutes, yet has anyone ever seen these regulations enforced? Whether it be a shopper waiting, often in the fire zone near Stop and Shop, who is just picking up a few items, or a service van working at someone's home, or an official vehicle that claims there is some need to keep the engine running, the amount of pollution that this adds is quite substantial. In addition, think about the amount of gas wasted. And, when it's an official vehicle, consider the costs incurred by taxpayers because of this often wasteful practice. Yet, no one ever enforces this code, and if official vehicles are ignoring the code also, what kind of example does that set? Why have regulations if they aren't going to be enforced. Many might think this is minor, but not when you consider the environmental impacts, costs, etc.
2. Speeding. We have all witnessed people speeding on Shore Rd, or Port Blvd., or Main St., and we have also observed the police stopping these violators at times. But how about secondary streets, like Mill Pond Rd., Harbor Rd., North Plandome Road, Central Ave., etc.? And, on many of the tertiary roads people speed or drive somewhat recklessly at times, despite the fact that there are often many children playing, people walking, etc. Must we wait for some tragedy before we pay attention to potential dangers?
3. Stop signs. In Montreal, police ticket drivers for making what some refer to as an "American Full Stop." This refers to the situation when instead of making a complete stop, people just slow and roll through the intersection. All you need to do is walk along either Baxter Pond (Central Ave) or Mill Pond (Mill Pond Rd) and observe the drivers approaching Shore Road. Very few make full stops, but quite a few just roll right through the stop sign onto Shore Road. To make this a more troubling circumstance, especially on Mill Pond Rd., many of the cars are also speeding in both directions, especially during busy traffic times.
4. Code Enforcement. Why have codes if they aren't enforced? Many of the codes on the Town's books regarding sidewalk appearance, snow removal, and appearance are not enforced. So what happens – the codes become ignored!
5. Busy intersections. In Port Washington, Main Street below Central Avenue and above are treated quite differently, in terms of services offered or attention given. While crossing guards are often at the intersection of Main Street and Port Blvd, even during non-school days, the busy intersection on the corner of Main Street and Shore Road is not given the same treatment. That is also true of many other details that I am sure many have noticed when they are even casually observing.
6. Empy Storefronts. We all see the empty stores along Main Street, and there are many reasons –some economic, some social, some the type of stores, some code-related (or restrictions on what is allowed), etc., – but the one area that is often spoken of, yet remains a major challenge to the retail environment, is the lack of convenient parking. Since rarely are people double parked asked to move, the traffic along parts of Main Street, during certain hours, is certainly unfavorable, as well. I noticed that, for example, Port Nutrition, after many years at its location on Main Street, is moving to the newly redone center on Port Blvd. Although there are probably many reasons involved, I wonder how much parking was a factor in the decision, as well. The good thing, at least, is that this business is staying in Port Washington. And, while two-hour parking meters might help people who want to shop avoid tickets, unless code enforcement monitors and enforces meter feeding rules, it won't increase parking (in fact, it's even possible there will be less, because of less turnover, meter feeding, etc.)
It's time for anyone interested in the quality of life on this peninsula to begin to pay attention to these small items, and to ask that either codes be enforced, or eliminated. It's also time for official vehicles to begin to follow the same rules the rest of us are supposed to follow, especially in non-emergency situations.