A Five Towns village tests gated security


Could the village of Hewlett Harbor become a gated community?

Late last month, Mayor Mark Weiss sent a letter to residents informing them of the village’s plan to install and test manually operated security gates at its borders. This comes after years of discussion, which is now focused on increasing crime in Nassau, Suffolk and Queens, Weiss said.

In Hewlett Harbor, there have been several auto thefts and break-ins in the past year, as well as two attempted home break-ins.

Gates are being erected on Schencks Lane, Hewlett Lane, Auerbach Avenue and Waverly Avenue, at Everit Avenue, where those roads intersect with East Rockaway Road. This will fortify the village against auto theft, home break-ins and cut-through traffic, Weiss wrote.

“By reducing access and egress, and having cameras in those places and on the streets, where we don’t have it,” Weiss said at the April 11 village board meeting, “what we’re looking to do is harden the village, make it less accessible, make it less desirable if somebody’s going to break into a house and try to get away. Having to go down one street is different than having to go down five streets.”

The test phase of gates will begin in mid-April, it has not started, but will by the end of the month village officials said and run for six months, during which traffic patterns, cut-through volumes and resident feedback will be collected, according to the village. It will also collaborate with the Nassau County Police Department for feedback on the gates’ impact on preventing crime.

Gate posts have been installed at all of the locations, powder coating — a finishing process for metal surfaces — has begun, and the fully assembled gates should be installed by the end of the month, Trustee Gil Bruh said.

When they become operational, the gates will be closed by village security staff from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., low-traffic periods in the village.

“This will be a significant deterrent to anyone looking to commit crimes in our Village,” Weiss wrote in the letter.

The gate on Auerbach Avenue will not be closed, as traffic into and out of the village is tracked with cameras and license plate readers.

Weiss explained that on nights when the Seawane Club, on Club Drive, hosts events, all of the gates will remain open until all guests exit. They will also remain open in rain and snowstorms, he said.

In 2021, cameras and license plate readers were installed throughout the village, and the following year, residents gave a “virtual” gate system a try, collaborating with Ring, a home security company, which sold them security cameras at a discounted rate. Three private security officers patrolled the village on a rotating schedule. The village still utilizes cameras and patrol officers, and has deemed their actions successful.

Hewlett Harbor resident Gary Kevin said he had concerns about the gates and the management of the new system.

“I think the major issue is that there’s no discussion with residents,” Kevin said. “The mayor and board do not send letters out — very infrequently. They’ll call because there have been burglaries and car thefts, (but) mail correspondence doesn’t happen. Whether this is passed or not, it’s something that should have been fleshed out with residents.”

Kevin also had questions about the trial period and the future, when Weiss said, the residents may get a pass or tag to open the gates.

“What about visitors that come? How are they going to be let in?” he asked. “What about emergency repair? What about ambulance, fire trucks? What if someone loses a (resident) tag?”

Kevin said he also had concerns about people’s privacy with the use of license plate readers, and the potential complications of driving rental cars into the village.

“You have to weigh things in life,” he said, “and the inconvenience of having this, and the potential problems of people that need to get in.”

Marvin Welkowitz, a resident of Hewlett Lane, said he was happy to learn of the new security measures, and would even push for the closure of the Auerbach Avenue gate.

“I believe property values will go up by advertising we have a gated community with 24-hour security,” Welkowitz said at last week’s board meeting. “Twenty-four-hour security service seven days a week: it’s a no brainer.”


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