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Islanders Meet for Safer, More Neighborly Streets

February 4, 2008

Bethpage, NY - Safer streets, better shopping, and more contact with neighbors are the goals for Long Island residents and city planners, discussed in a recent meeting in Bethpage aimed at combining crime prevention with smart urban design decisions. Sara Lansdale is with Sustainable Long Island, the group that sponsored the town hall meeting.

"When people feel safe to walk around, to shop in stores, to leave their cars and not just drive through a community, the community can begin then to be revitalized."

Lansdale explains the idea is to redesign downtown Long Island communities so that shopkeepers and visitors can keep an eye on each other, and deter would-be criminals from entering the neighbor-friendly, high-visibility environments.

"A lot of communities on Long Island have that appetite to rebuild their downtowns. But for communities that are already built up, these could be better landscaping measures, including making sure bushes are trimmed, to change the environment so that the victim and criminal never meet up."

Architect Lee Edgecombe (of Edgecombe Group, Inc.) also attended the Bethpage conference. He notes the approach of "Crime Prevention through Environmental Design" can be applied to residential areas, as well as business districts.

"A lot of these communities on Long Island had been designed 50 years ago or so. There are a lot of neighborhoods that don't have sidewalks, which do not make them 'walkable' communities. And so, it limits the opportunity for casual neighboring, which is also a great opportunity for a neighborhood watch program."

Sustainable Long Island is also working with Wyandanch and a dozen other towns to promote safer community planning.

Robert Knight/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - NY