L.I. Red-Light Cameras Yanked Over Revenue Glitch

"We just made a mistake," one official said

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Watch your speed if you're in Long Island.

    Close is only good in horse shoes, so the saying goes.
     
    Few know that better than the planners of Nassau county's new red light camera program.

    The cameras are being installed at 50 dangerous county intersections to both catch and deter traffic violators.  But when planners placed the first cameras at busy intersections in the villages of Massapequa Park and East Rockaway last Thursday, they made a huge miscalculation -- they installed some of the cameras on village, not county property.

    That mistake led Massapequa Park's mayor to demand at least a portion of the fine money collected from the cameras.  Nassau County's response --  it yanked the cameras a day later.

    The move demonstrates that new revenue, not traffic safety, is Nassau's real motive for the program, Mayor James Altadonna of Massapequa Park said.  That's despite words to the contrary from County Executive Suozzi when he unveiled the cameras, Altadonna said.

    In explaining the county's error in placing the cameras, deputy county executive Ian Siegel said, "Nassau has more maps than a gas station.  We just made a mistake."

    But Siegel denies the cameras were yanked because Nassau didn't want to share the fine money.  He said state law allowing the cameras requires that only Nassau county collect those fines.  To have another municipality involved would violate that law, Siegel said.

    Massapequa Park's mayor still insists the cameras should have stayed, regardless of which municipality keeps the fine money.

    "This is still one of the 50 worst intersections in the county," said Mayor Altadonna.

    He's now asking his local state senator to propose new legislation in Albany that would allow the village to install its own camera.

    As for the county, Siegal said the other camera placements have been reviewed and found to be on county property.  He expects all 50 intersections to have cameras by January of next year.