Darkness on the edge of state route 878


Roughly 50 lights, on the Lawrence side of the Atlantic Beach Bridge, remain dark, and Samuel Nahmias, now a candidate for Lawrence mayor, says it is because the village is hesitant to accept financial help and responsibility for the problem.

Nahmias, chairman of the Nassau County Bridge Authority, made his claim at the NCBA’s April 17 meeting.

“Our State Senator Patricia Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick and our presiding officer have teamed up together with a grant to give to the village of Lawrence, and they are reluctant to take it,” Nahmias said. The presiding officer is Howard Kopel, who represents the Five Towns in the Nassau County Legislature. 

Nahmias said that in speaking with Kopel, Kopel told him the grant the village was not accepting could potentially be given to the NCBA to complete lighting repairs. The grant was $1.5 million over 10 years, Nahmias said.

Raymond Webb, NCBA’s executive director, said this was a joint grant from the state and county, separate from the annual roads and transportation budget given to villages. The grant was given to the Lawrence this past winter, Webb said.

“Both the presiding officer and the state senator are perplexed as to why (the village) is not willing to take the money,” Nahmias said.

In January, there was discrepancy over whose responsibility the maintenance of the lights is. Lawrence village officials said that light maintenance falls on the village and larger improvements are the responsibility of the state department of transportation.

In 2019, Lawrence village Administrator Ron Goldman said the electrical wires connected to the lights were eroded and were continuing to erode due to Hurricane Sandy in 2012. At a January meeting, Goldman added that the damage done during Sandy made this a capital improvement project.

A DOT official said local municipalities must maintain lighting along state highways, except in predetermined instances where the DOT does maintenance, in a January statement.

“Regarding responsibility of the lighting project, our office is in touch with the NYS Department of Transportation and the Village of Lawrence for specific agreements and regulations governing infrastructure maintenance in the area,” Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick said in an April statement.

After the January village meeting and repeated requests for the village to fix the lighting, the NCBA took legal action against the village, filing a notice of claim, sending letters to Governor Kathy Hochul, Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick and Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office among others.

Mary Studdert, director of communication for the County Legislature’s Republicans, said in an April statement, that no grant has been issued to Lawrence, as the village is still assessing lighting costs.

Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick said in a statement in April, that she is in contact with the village about the project and funding needs within the village.

Goldman addressed the 878 lighting at Lawrence’s April 11 village board meeting. The village approved the hiring of Welsbach, an electrical contractor to evaluate all 878 lighting in the village and fix minor issues, while compiling a list of larger repairs necessary to alleviate all lighting issues.

“For all of that is requesting a fee of $2,200,” Goldman said at the April meeting.

The village trustees using Welsbach, and Goldman said that once the contractor determines the cost of the larger repairs, the village would work with Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick to determine how to pay for the repairs.

“She’s committed to exploring with us, forcing (the state) Department of Transportation and highways to acknowledge that this isn’t our responsibility and to burden the village, whether it’s the $200,000 or the $600,000, or the $900,000 and she’s willing to work with us,” Goldman said, listing the potential costs of the project.

The NCBA received a quote for $211,00, Webb said.

Lawrence officials said they have has not received any grant for the project, in response to Nahmias’ claims.