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‘Welcome to Hamilton Beach’ sign and guardrail protecting it destroyed in hit-and-run

Photo courtesy of Roger Gendron

A hit-and-run happened in Hamilton Beach. The victim: a beloved, handmade 2-by-3-foot wooden welcome sign crafted by a neighborhood resident.

The sign that welcomed visitors to Hamilton Beach, along with a guardrail and a city traffic sign, was located at the beginning of Hamilton Beach where vehicles cross into the community from Old Howard Beach.

The accident occurred in the beginning of December, but the motorist who caused the damage has yet to be caught. The guardrail is smashed almost 2 feet back, the two-way-traffic sign is knocked down behind the rail and the Hamilton Beach sign was cracked in the middle with letters and decorations missing.

It was removed to see if there was a possibility to have it repaired, but Roger Gendron, president of the Hamilton Beach Civic Association, was just told it was unfixable, and the neighborhood now has to look to purchase a new sign.

“I can’t imagine how fast this person must have been going to hit the rail that hard and knock it back so far,” Gendron said. “Thank God no one was hurt, but now we have to get it fixed and get a new sign.”

When crossing into Hamilton Beach from Old Howard Beach, a vehicle must go over a bridge with a slight incline. But, the high point of that bridge, which crosses over Hawtree Creek, is at least 50 feet if not more before the guardrail and sign, giving drivers an ample amount of time to see the stop sign at the corner before entering the neighborhood.

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When Gendron first noticed the sign was down he went down to further inspect the area and see if he could find any clues as to who may have done the damage. He found a piece of the car with the vehicle identification number on it, which he turned over to police at the 106th Precinct.

The crash is still under investigation, but just last week, the precinct removed an abandoned car from the neighborhood with a Pennsylvania license plate. The car’s front end was smashed in. It is not confirmed if that was the vehicle that caused the damage, but Gendron said it would definitely fit the description with how much damage was done to it.

The next step for the neighborhood is to get the guardrail fixed, erect a new pole for the two-way sign and put up a new welcome sign. Gendron has been in touch with Councilman Eric Ulrich’s office to see if the councilman can help get a Department of Transportation crew assigned to fix the two-way sign and guardrail. He is currently looking for someone or some business willing to make a new welcome sign. Gendron priced out a couple of signs but was astonished when he saw that many cost over $3,000. He has toyed with the possibility of starting a “Go Fund Me” page to see if he could get enough donations to buy a new sign but he hasn’t committed to it yet as he is exploring other options.

“We need a new sign for the neighborhood,” Gendron said. “I don’t know how we will get it yet, but we will.”

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