PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. – The voices of the citizens and local governments were heard in Albany as the state Department of Transportation (DOT) cancelled the proposed traffic monitoring tower project on the Saw Mill River Parkway Tuesday evening, according to Assemblyman Bob Castelli (R-Bedford).
“At this point in time, NYSDOT has decided not to install communications towers along the Saw Mill River Parkway,” state transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald said in a press release Tuesday evening.
Pleasantville Mayor Peter Scherer declared the cancelled project a win for the village.
“I’m very happy to hear this news,” said Scherer Tuesday night in a phone interview. “I’m very appreciative to all of the help that we received from the community in stopping this project and very appreciative of DOT for listening to our concerns.”
The project was halted Tuesday, effective immediately, after concerns were raised by Scherer along with Mount Pleasant Town Supervisor Joan Maybury and New Castle Supervisor Susan Carpenter, as well as many local lawmakers and community members.
The proposed project included a series of closed-circuit television system towers, which would stand around 125 feet high and feature a camera on top to monitor traffic flow and accidents. The DOT planned to install seven of the towers on the Saw Mill River Parkway – beginning from where the parkway crosses the Taconic State Parkway near Hawthorne, and ending in Chappaqua. The department said traffic monitoring cameras could sense heavy congestion, show when an alternate route should be recommended and detect accidents quickly to dispatch emergency response.
Many Pleasantville residents adamantly protested the project and formed the citizens' group “Stop DOT Towers”. The group collected approximately 1,000 signatures on a petition against the project and made several phone calls to DOT expressing their displeasure. Deana Nelkin, a Pleasantville resident and founding member of the citizens group, was ecstatic to hear that the project was cancelled.
“The mayor called me to give me the news and I was literally jumping with joy,” Nelkin said. “I’m just thrilled with everybody that was involved in stopping this project.”
District-3 County Legislator Michael Smith said Tuesday night that the decision not to install the towers shows the power of the citizens’ voices.
“I think it’s a perfect example of citizens coming together and creating a group solution to resolve an issue,” said Smith, who attended a meeting Sunday afternoon in Pleasantville held by the citizens' group. “And their resolutions were perfectly reasonable.”
Scherer was not surprised that Pleasantville residents were able to come together to fight against something they thought was wrong.
“This is a community that comes together for many different reasons to help each other out, more than any other community that I’ve been a part of,” Scherer said.