BY ANDREAS YILMA
BEACON FALLS — Residents expressed mixed feelings about the current two speed humps on Burton Road and the possibility of having more installed to curb speeding.
The Board of Selectmen held a special meeting on July 19 at Woodland Regional High School where more than three dozen residents attended.
The selectmen, who are also the town’s traffic authority, approved in August 2022 the installation of two speed humps on Burton Road with painted signs warning drivers to slow down.
First Selectman Gerard Smith said speeding is a chronic problem in the nation, state and in town. Officials previously planned to review the effectiveness of speed humps. Public Works had no problems with plowing. Emergency management vehicles also had no problem with going over the speed humps.
“If we get an outcry that everybody just wants to not use that method of speed control, then we will address that at the next Board of Selectmen meeting,” Smith said.
Smith said many towns statewide have speed humps. The town of Hamden has a form on their website where residents can recommend and request for a speed hump on their street.
“It goes to traffic commission, they do a review and they decide if it’s a worthy spot for a speed hump,” Smith said. “We can’t just put speed humps anywhere. They need to be done by traffic commission and an engineer has to design them and recommend where they’re going to be installed.”
Smith said New Haven and Stamford also have aggressive speed hump programs but also have about four times the police officers and roughly ten times the amount of police cruisers; but they still can’t control the speeding. If the town of Beacon Falls had those same amount of officers, it would greatly impact the budget and taxes.
The town is part of a resident trooper program, so it’s part of the state police. It has one resident trooper and one Route 8 trooper that provides the town with 24/7 service. This is followed by three full time officers and remaining part time officers, who either work in other departments or are retired and have other jobs, Smith said.
“We had toyed with adding other more full time officers because a full-time officer works when we tell them to work because they’re full time here,” Smith said. “Each full time officer under our union contract, costs us $135,000. That’s just salary and benefits.”
Smith said there are still some complaints of speeding on Burton Road after the speed humps have been installed.
About a dozen residents spoke in favor or against the speed humps. Other residents favored having more police officers patrolling more often, installation of more stop signs and speed cameras.
David Rybinski, who lives on Quail Hollow Road, said between himself and his family, they drive over the speed humps at least a dozen times a day and it wears and tears on his vehicle.
Mike Kirdzik, who lives on Burton Road said people still accelerate between speed humps and recommends to put two more speed humps on Burton Road to slow drivers down.
Ray Binkowski, of Cedar Lane, said his car received some damage from the speed humps as he drives through Burton Road four times a day.
“The speed bumps are absolutely worthless,” Binkowski said.
Kristina Muth, who lives with her children right in front of one of the speed humps on Burton Road, said in a letter to Smith that drivers beep their horns to express their frustration.
“It wakes my kids up. It wakes me up. Residents give us dirty looks as if we are the reason the speed humps have been installed,” Muth said. “We’ve been yelled at, sworn at, flipped off, quality of life for the people who live around them has gone down.”
Muth said she’s noticed that cars speed up even faster in between the speed humps, which cause the noises to get louder. She doesn’t feel that her children are safer while speed humps slow someone down at that moment, drivers just pick up their speed. She asked to reconsider having more speed humps installed around town.
Smith said stop signs can’t be used for speed enforcement and it’s against state law to put up cameras and enforce speed with it.
Pent Road, Rimmon Hill Road, Lasky Road, Main Street, Burton Road and Skokorat Road are where many drivers go at excessive rates of speed a lot of the time, Smith said.
Beacon Falls Police Corporal Jay Piccirillo said police officers are out stopping cars and performing speed enforcement on top of their other calls of service.
For the month of May, police had 693 calls for service and stopped 161 cars. In the month of June, there were 805 calls for service and police stopped 226 motor vehicles.
“We could only be at so many places at once,” Piccirillo said. “We do have radar units in our vehicles.”
Police are also not allowed to chase any vehicles unless the driver is a homicide suspect or an imminent threat to other residents due to state laws, Piccirillo added.
Smith said stencils were purchased for SLOW signs in front of the speed humps on Burton Road and he would ask the town road foreman on rumble strips.
Town officials plan to further discuss the issue at next Board of Selectmen meeting.