Hauppauge and Smithtown residents who gathered to mark the two-year anniversary of Courtney Sipes' death agreed while improvements have been made to Smithtown's Main Street, more needs to be done. They have pledged to continue to fight on in Sipes' memory.
Despite a steady rain, friends and family clustered together under umbrellas Tuesday evening around a makeshift memorial to Courtney Sipes, an .
"Today, we mark 2 years without our precious daughter. Those of you who knew her knew how remarkable she was. We mis her love, her beautiful smile, her laughter,r her sense of humor, the way she lived her life every day with energy and enthusiasm, the future we dreamed of with her," said Laverna Sipes, her mother.
Smithtown's Main Street does not look the same as it did on the night of Courtney Sipes accident. The Sipes family formed the Courtney Sipes Foundation, which has become an area advocate for improving safety on Smithtown Main Street and providing scholarships to students pursuing the performing arts.
"This has been a big year for us," Laverna said. "We really stepped up efforts to get officials to do more than what seemed like superficial fixes. By getting the petition going and getting more than 3,800 signatures, I think it has made a difference."
The organization has been successful in getting Smithtown Town officials and New York State Department of Transportation to install several changes on Main Street including audible pedestrian crosswalks, electronic crosswalk timers, restriping the crosswalks and installing a fence along Main Street's sidewalks.
"It's definitely an improvement overall," said Mark Mancini, owner of Mancini Architecture. "They say the fence is an improvement, I don’t agree."
Mancini presented to the town board in May that he wants to see implemented. One calls for Smithtown Main Street to be widened to have a center median for pedestrians and two eastbound lanes. The second, more radical plan calls for Main Street to be made a one-way roadway.
"I think the road needs to be changed period. Either you come up with an idea and make it safe for pedestrians and vehicles or you don't," Mancini said.
He and other members of the Courtney Sipes Foundation will be meeting with the DOT on Dec. 15 to go over the state's findings on these potential plans and discuss the possibility of moving forward with one.
"I think the only way changes will be made is if people speak up and that has to be done by everyone who lives in this area whether you live in Hauppauge or some part of Smithtown," Laverna said.