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Greenport Village mulls lower speed limits

Should speed limits in the Village of Greenport be reduced to 25 mph?

That’s a question village officials have been debating recently, with some insisting that the current 30 mph limit is not effective. 

Main Street resident Bridget Elkin made the suggestion at a Village Board meeting late last year, saying that about 200 cars pass by on Main Street in as little as five minutes and that a lot of them are going about 40 mph.

Ms. Elkin said the villages of East Hampton and Sag Harbor initially got state legislation to go to 25 mph limits, but then discovered that this was ineffective, and later went back and got state approval for 20 mph limits.

Trustees Doug Roberts and Jack Martilotta both support the drop in speed limit to 25 mph.

But Trustee Mary Bess Phillips said that since Main Street and Front Street are state roads, approval from the state Legislature is needed to lower the speed limits there.

Mr. Roberts said at Thursday’s Village Board meeting that the village should go to the state to lower those limits and it should also make 25 mph the village-wide limit.

“On my way here tonight, I almost got hit by a guy going 45 mph down my street,” Mr. Roberts said.

“Changing from 30 to 25 mph is not going to stop the person that’s going 45 mph down the road,” Mayor George Hubbard said.

Mr. Martilotta suggested dropping it more than 5 mph, saying that cars “are flying” past St. Agnes R.C. Church on Front Street.

“Going 30 mph in a walking village is a little scary when you have little kids,” he said.

But village attorney Joe Prokop said the speed can’t be lower than 25 except in a school zone, at a bridge or a hazard area or if state legislation has been obtained.

Ms. Phillips suggested signs at the entrances to the village indicating a 30 mph speed limit.

“A lot of people are upset because Front and Main have become a highway — a high-speed highway,” she said.

The idea of dropping the speed limit in Greenport does not have the support of Southold Town Police Chief Martin Flatley.

“I see no need for changing the limit from 30 mph,” he said in an email to the Suffolk Times Friday. “I don’t think the effort to change all of the speed signs by 5 mph will have any effect on traffic. For the most part, traffic stays on or around the 30 mph speed limit.

“Perhaps they should try driving around the village for the day under 25 mph to get an appreciation of just how difficult that is,” the chief continued. “If there is a specific problem with speeding in an area, I feel that it is best addressed by letting us conduct speed enforcement. We very rarely have anyone complain to us about speeding in the village.”

Trustee Mary Bess Phillips suggested bringing Chief Flatley to a Village Board work session to discuss traffic issues.

Mr. Hubbard said the village can petition the state for lower speed limits but he stressed that enforcement and better signage are needed as well.

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