Nassau Shuts Down Controversial School Zone Speed Cameras

Nassau County legislators are putting the brakes on school zone speed cameras, just a few months after the controversial program began. 

The short-lived program, which had made more than $30 million for the county, has been under fire for the way it was implemented. County Democratic minority leader Kevan Abrahams said thousands of residents were hit with a charge when there were no speed signs, flashing lights or other warnings installed where the cameras were. 

During the summer, problems were found with cameras installed at six school locations: five cameras issued tickets on days when school was not in session. Cameras at a sixth location began operating prematurely. Nassau forgave more than $2.4 million in speed fines issued in the month of August. 

More than 4,500 opponents took to a Facebook page to complain about the program.

"It's just not fair, there are other ways to reduce dangerous driving," page creator Gavin Cummings said at a public hearing Monday.

Steve Rothstein of Merrick said the county "planned on this as a cash cow, and it backfired." 

The repeal of the program is expected to create a $30 million budget gap. County executive Ed Mangano has warned it could mean painful spending cuts in public safety and social services, but legislators said taxpayers shouldn't worry.

Republican presiding officer majority leader Norma Gonsalves said there will "absolutely not" be a raise in taxes. 

The county now plans to replace the cameras with increased police patrols and flashing lights. Vanessa Geoghegan, a mother of six in East Meadow, hopes it's enough to keep drivers from speeding.

"Might be the money or not, but I think it was protecting the children in the long run," she said. 

The cameras will be shut down once the county executive signs off. Opponents say they will push to get any outstanding tickets thrown out.  

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