HUDSON — Residents who painted two crosswalks at the intersection of Third and State streets may face charges, city officials said Thursday.
The crosswalks were painted at about 6 p.m. Monday during the Common Council’s Police Committee meeting, Police Chief L. Edward Moore said.
Fourth Ward Supervisor Linda Mussmann posted photos on Facebook of her wife, Claudia Bruce, and Peter Spear, both of Hudson, painting two crosswalks at the intersection with a striping machine and white marking paint. Former 2nd Ward Supervisor Ed Cross was in one photo, standing nearby.
Mussmann took the photos of Bruce and Spear painting the crosswalks, she said, adding the crosswalks were painted after numerous complaints were made to the Common Council and Department of Public Works Committee about the intersection.
Spear got the idea to paint the sidewalk after emailing Mussmann about his concerns of the intersection’s safety. Mussmann had the same concerns, he said, and they decided to do something about it.
“The intent was to make the intersection safer by making a right-of-way visible for people,” Spear said Thursday. “That intersection has never had a crosswalk.”
In the future, Spear wants to make painting crosswalks a community project that other residents can participate in together, he said.
“It would not surprise me if it [painting the crosswalks] was unauthorized,” Spear said. “We just wanted to the help a city that has other things to do.”
Unauthorized crosswalks are illegal and the residents who painted them could face penalties, Moore said.
Department of Public Works Superintendent Rob Perry said paint they used does not meet state crosswalk standards.
“White, retroreflective pavement marking lines must be used to officially establish a legal crosswalk,” according to the state Department of Transportation website. “Stripes must be 6 inches wide and non-reflective.”
The crosswalks will be appropriately painted over by the DPW, Moore said.
“A crosswalk is no good if the cars cannot see it,” Perry said. “This substandard product gives the pedestrian a false sense of security.”
It is possible the residents violated Hudson City Code and state penal code regarding graffiti, Moore said. Moore had not reviewed the report and no tickets were issued as of noon Thursday.
“I will look at all the reports and make a decision at that point [whether to issues tickets],” Moore said. “It is my understanding that a crosswalk was scheduled to be painted [at Third and State streets] by DPW in the near future, as well as many as of the 50-plus crosswalks in the city.”
The state Department of Transportation does not usually have a say on the placement of crosswalks in the city unless those crosswalks would be painted on state roads, state DOT spokesman Gina DiSarro said.
Bruce has not heard from police about penalties as a result of painting the crosswalk, she said.
“I think what is going on here is that this is bringing some awareness to the situation,” Bruce said.
City police officers arrived while Bruce and Spear were painting and asked them to stop. They stopped painting immediately, Bruce said.
“I am not sure the officers responding actually witnessed them in the act of painting,” Moore said. “Absent of that, interviews must be done. I have not spoken with the officers conducting the investigation yet, as they don’t return until tomorrow. When we look at all the information, we will decide what to do.”
Marking city streets or public property is restricted, according to city code.
“No person, firm or corporation, unless authorized by the commissioner of Public Works, shall paint, mark, write, print or stencil any letters, figures, pictures or characters of any kind upon an street, public building or any other public property,” according to the code.
The offense carries a penalty of up to 15 days in jail and a fine not to exceed $2,500, according to city code.
A resident faced a similar charge in 2017, Perry said.
“An individual was arrested and charged for painting water valve caps, potholes and gas value caps on State Street,” Perry said.
The resident pleaded guilty and was sentenced to serve community service at performing arts theater Time & Space Limited, at 434 Columbia St., which Mussmann and Bruce own.
“So Claudia and Linda know that painting the street is illegal,” Perry said.
Former 2nd Ward Supervisor Ed Cross and Bruce have discussed the necessity of crosswalks at the intersection of Third and State streets for many years, Bruce said.
“That is a very dangerous spot,” she said. “Somebody is going to get hurt there.”
The intersection is heavily used, and people often take it as a back route via Harry Howard Avenue to the shopping centers in Greenport, Mussmann said, adding the road also links the city to Route 9G.
“The intent in speaking as the Fourth Ward supervisor is that the Fourth Ward is sadly neglected when it comes to crosswalks, lighting, garbage, cans, trees, etc.,” Mussmann said. “We’re the stepchild side of the city. If you look at Warren Street, there are crosswalks on every corner, but on our side of the city, there is virtually nothing.”
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