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Aug 6, 2014 10:50 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Gregor Says He Will Remove 'Sister Jackie's Way' Sign From Water Mill Street

Aug 6, 2014 11:08 AM

Southampton Town Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor said Wednesday that he will remove an honorary street sign from Rose Hill Road in Water Mill commemorating the Catholic nun who was killed there in 2012 in a fatal hit-and-run accident.

Mr. Gregor, who had paid for and installed the sign himself, designating the road as “Sister Jackie’s Way,” said he has agreed to take it down after the nuns who live at the Sisters of Mercy Convent on the road asked him to remove it to quell the controversy that has swirled around it in recent weeks.

“The sisters are upset about the controversy and asked me to please take down the sign,” Mr. Gregor said Wednesday. “They feel that they are not welcomed by the other residents of the street anymore and they don’t like the attention. I never meant for this to be the big hoopla it’s turned into.”

Sister Jacquelin Walsh was killed in August 2012 after being struck by an SUV that fled the scene; she had been on retreat at the Sisters of Mercy Convent at the time. Police later determined that the vehicle was owned by Rose Hill Road resident Andrew Zaro and that one of his employees, Carlos Armando Ixpec-Chitay, had been driving it at the time of the accident.

But by the time authorities came in search of the Guatemala native, he had already fled the country. His brother was later convicted for aiding in his escape and served four months in jail.

Mr. Gregor installed the sign last year, without any legislative dedication or approval. He still contends that he did not need approval since the sign was merely memorial in nature and did not officially change the name of the road, which can be done only with Town Board approval.

But after a resident complained in a letter to Town Board members that the sign was an unwelcome reminder for residents of the tragedy that happened on their street, Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst’s office sent out a survey to other homeowners on the block asking their opinion of the sign. When the majority of those who responded—about half of the total number on the street—said they preferred that it be removed, the supervisor’s office asked members of the town’s Parks Department to remove the sign. But when Mr. Gregor learned of its removal, he retrieved the sign and returned it to its original perch atop the regular street sign at the intersection of Rose Hill and Montauk Highway.

Ms. Throne-Holst said last week that the Town Board was hoping to reason with Mr. Gregor to take the sign down but, if they couldn’t, they would instruct parks employees to remove it again. She said the board was of the opinion that Mr. Gregor did not have the authority to act unilaterally to put up the sign without board approval, regardless of its unofficial nature.

The dustup drew more complaints from neighbors, and a rush of attention from New York City media outlets.

“I never meant for this to be the big hoopla it’s turned out to be,” Mr. Gregor said. “I will take down the sign if it’s so important to these people. I put it up, I have no problem putting it in my office and when people ask me about it, I can tell them the tale.”

Still, Mr. Gregor thinks that most people in the community were supportive of his memorial to Sister Jackie, as she was known, and that the disproportionate influence of a few wealthy residents on the Town Board is what drove the campaign to have it removed.

“Not all people are created equal ... or maybe some are more equal than others,” he said. “It’s very disappointing.”

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Wow. What a horrible place we live in. Time to pack the bags.
By johnj (1024), Westhampton on Aug 6, 14 11:04 AM
1 member liked this comment
Sometimes, viral community issues arise that crystallize and define who our elected officials are and who they represent in a stark and reprehensible way.

Anna has always been a shameless b**t kisser of the very wealthy class of campaign contributors whose money she uses for political campaign purposes and has no choice but to defend their interests to the death.

Gregor on the other hand represents unequivocally the Everyman whose interests and environment are foremost on his honest ...more
By Obbservant (449), southampton on Aug 11, 14 3:21 AM
1 member liked this comment
If the sign said "Sister Jackie's Way... Sponsored by _____" You would have people get in bidding wars to have their names fill in that blank. How sick.

By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Aug 6, 14 11:48 AM
2 members liked this comment
its a shame that the sign appears to be causing more outrage than the accident itself.
By tm (174), mtk on Aug 6, 14 12:03 PM
The wealthy 21 home owners who forced this resolution can now have the slogan "Shun the nun" added to their front gates.

A most shameful display of arrogance, insensitivity and pandering to the wealthy by the Town Board, in my personal opinion.

Kudos to Mr. Gregor for his courageous speaking Truth to power.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Aug 6, 14 12:56 PM
Rest in Peace Sister Walsh, no disrespect intended to your life or your Order.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Aug 6, 14 1:07 PM
1 member liked this comment
"pandering to the wealthy by the Town Board"

You do note, of course, that Mr. Gregor is removing it because the Nuns requested them to... right?
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Aug 6, 14 2:23 PM
1 member liked this comment
Noted, but see itsamazing below.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Aug 6, 14 2:46 PM
Hey the nuns ASKED HIM TO BECAUSE THEY DID NOT WANT TO DEAL WITH THE BACKLASH ..... ps how many illegals do you employ ???????????
By Biba (566), East Hampton on Aug 7, 14 4:54 PM
too bad this town is full of corrupt a**es who have nothing better to do then complain about a remembrance sign. If that is the case, well then I don't want to see flowers on every corner where people were killed. Grow up jerkwads!
By LovedHerTown (132), southampton on Aug 6, 14 1:58 PM
1 member liked this comment
Nature, I understand that the nuns requested to have the sign removed. However, the reason behind their request is that the self absorbed bastards who live on Rose Hill Rd whined about having the sign there in the first place. They have no problem with the illegals that work on their properties but they don't want to be reminded that one of them ran over and killed a nun and then hightailed it back to his country (more than likely with the help of a resident of that street).

Perhaps the ...more
By itsamazing (224), Southampton on Aug 6, 14 2:31 PM
perfectly written !
By david h (405), southampton on Aug 6, 14 3:07 PM
My point is that it Gregor did not comply with the "residents" he listened to the nuns who felt it would best for it to be removed. PBR giving the "residents" more credit than they deserve
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Aug 6, 14 3:11 PM
Excellent comment !!!!!!!!!!!
By Biba (566), East Hampton on Aug 7, 14 4:55 PM
Alex Gregor deserves congratulations for the noble gesture of putting up the sign in the first place. He also deserves congratulations for respecting the wishes of the Sisters and taking it down, the right result IMO, given the overwhelming sentiment on the street. As the Sisters rightly realized, Rose Hill Road itself is where this issue had to be decided, not in the living rooms of Quiogue, Hampton Bays, Southampton, Westhampton, etc.
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Aug 6, 14 2:39 PM
Beg to differ about 21 wealthy land OWNERS having the RIGHT to decide anything about this, especially when the Supervisor and Town Board have not made public the letter sent to only 43 of the residents of Water Mill, not to mention the Town.

You have misquoted the Sisters I believe, and owe them an immediate apology for putting words in their mouth.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Aug 6, 14 2:52 PM
He didn't put words anywhere PBR. And the owner's didn't "decide" anything.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Aug 6, 14 3:12 PM
George, or whatever your moniker is: Shut. Up.

You can bet your bottom dollar if one of their friends was killed on that street, there'd be a damn plaque on the side of the road and they'd b**** and complain to change the name of the street.

Have a nice day...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Aug 6, 14 3:22 PM
Nature, you appear to be off on another one of your tangents based on poor reading comprehension, and/or misinterpretation of a number of posts. It is not worth my time to correct your mistakes, once again.

Question authority . . .

[And cut the critics as much slack as you appear to be granting the Town authorities.]

PS -- find your outrage again, it suited you much better!
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Aug 6, 14 3:46 PM
Ah now I get it Nature, off on a rant due to the "nannying" issue?
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Aug 6, 14 3:59 PM
Your as wrong as the day is long PBR. I have plenty of rage - but it is so silly to sit here and give the Richie riches all the "credit" for having the sign removed. By doing that you are letting them think they were victorious.

Gregor didn't give a &*^*&^ bout what they had to say or what Queen Anna had to say. He is removing the sign because the nuns want it removed (as a result of the hoopla, I admit).

Your desire to police the boards hurts your credibility (again) - especially ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Aug 6, 14 4:01 PM
Thanks, Mr. Z., for your reasoned and moderate post encouraging free speech and civil discourse. As it happens, I usually find myself agreeing with your comments, but there are exceptions to everything.
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Aug 7, 14 11:52 AM
Just a suggestion which you need not follow or heed. The sign being removed, especially for the petty reasons involved is WRONG. Unadulteratedly, ineffably, incomprehensibly foul, and wrong.

"Never grow weary of doing what is right."

~ Sr. Jackie Walsh
Aug 7, 14 11:20 PM appended by Mr. Z
466. Yvonne Bartolomeo, Springville, FL: "Class of 97...Sister Jackie you will always be missed but never forgotten. Thank you for all your words of wisdom that helped lead me onto the Road of recovery. 16 yrs clean and I thank you for always being there. That sign is MORE than a sign...it is a tribute and honor to a woman who lived selflessly and solely to service those in need. She deserves this...and so much more...it is the LEAST we can do."
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Aug 7, 14 11:20 PM
No matter how many adverbs you pile on, Z, and no matter how many words you capitalize, you really don't convince the people of anything if you don't make a case beyond declaring, from your pillar of arrogance, that the other side is wrong. It's just not enough, and you know it's not enough.
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Aug 10, 14 6:07 PM
Over 1,200 signatures, and climbing.

Now about that advice...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Aug 10, 14 8:45 PM
So 1,200 people, none of whom live on your street -- maybe some of whom even live in a different state -- should be able to tell you what the name of your street ought to be?
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Aug 11, 14 11:40 AM
It's not changing the official name of the street - it's placing the memorial sign atop. There are likely thousands of memorial signs atop legal street signs in the NY metro area from 9/11 victims alone.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Aug 11, 14 12:43 PM
1 member liked this comment
This is an example of how our beautiful, little town is no longer the same. In my opinion, If this had happened on a street inhabited by local, year-round families, the sign would not be an issue and would be fully supported. I am ashamed by this behavior and the attitude of the homeowners--so insensitive.
By Mrs.Sea (268), Sag Harbor on Aug 6, 14 2:59 PM
5 members liked this comment
if one of the illegal mothrs jammed into the house at 5 underhill was hit by a local driver .. oh how there would be an outcry!
By david h (405), southampton on Aug 6, 14 3:09 PM
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Aug 6, 14 3:12 PM
everyone's a crybaby about something .. the town dev board is a lead crybaby that they don’t have enough PDD’s so they hold meetings with short notice at 4:00 on weekdays so no one can oppose, the mayor is a crybaby about his 50 unit condo project was not in the village but only in the town, the mini mega mall developers are crybabies ! the rechlers are crybabies about their condos on the canal, georgica partners is a huge crybaby about getting the cheap money from the government, throna-holst ...more
By david h (405), southampton on Aug 7, 14 10:29 AM
why don't we have a sign on the bridge sagg turnpike commemorating the pregnant woman who drove into a tree? Or a sign on scuttlehole commemorating the two guys who drove into a tree? Only nuns deserve signs?
By EIEIO (3), new york on Aug 6, 14 4:27 PM
Because the nun was the victim of a hit-and-run AND she was visiting the nunnery which is located on said road.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Aug 6, 14 5:30 PM
there are gnomes and plastic flowers and white crosses all over the woods in flanders and h bays .. whats with those ??
By david h (405), southampton on Aug 7, 14 8:03 AM
...your implication is that the sign is there because the deceased was a nun. If that is the case, I agree with you, there should be nothing representative of any religion posted or hung on poles in the town.
By William Rodney (561), southampton on Aug 6, 14 4:48 PM
Interesting new article today about a reduction in the asking price for a house on Rose Hill Road. Is the owner by any chance one of those asking for the removal of Sister Jackie's sign?
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Aug 6, 14 5:32 PM
There has been far more media coverage over a far wider geographical area than the initial media coverage of the hit and run.

The fate of Sister Jackie is now known across Long Island and the five boroughs of New York City and beyond.

That the residents of that road would choose to make the Sisters of that Order feel unwelcome on the block is no less an outrage than requesting the sign be removed so a resident would no longer have to explain to visitors who Sister Jackie was.

It ...more
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Aug 6, 14 5:37 PM
4 members liked this comment
Mr. Gregor is a class guy
By westhamptonboy (227), Westhampton on Aug 6, 14 6:49 PM
How does this issue, or its discussion, help the taxpayer in any way ? This is a complete waste of intellectual energy and not what our paid elected officials are supposed to be engaged in.
By GALAXIE (43), SAG HARBOR on Aug 6, 14 8:57 PM
"Help the taxpayer?" Why must anything be required to help the taxpayer? Why must there be a selfish aspect to any thought or act?

You spend your "intellectual energy" as you see fit and let others spend their's as they wish. Why does it appear your ox has been gored?
By VOS (1241), WHB on Aug 7, 14 12:57 AM
An excellent question. I suggest you write Anna Throne-Holst and ask why, seeing that the sign was up for, I believe, close to a year, with no comments from anyone, she decided to stir up a hornet's nest by "polling" the residents. A poll that incidentally, was not sent to the nuns. Oh right, they're not home owners, but neither is she. It would have been interesting to see the results had all the nuns been polled as well. There's a George Orwell line that applies here, but surely you are ...more
By rabblerouser (46), Hampton Bays on Aug 6, 14 9:29 PM
2 members liked this comment
She should also voluntarily issue a Press Release with a PDF of the initial letter to the homeowners, as well as any written replies in emails or letters. Hopefully the Press has already submitted a FOIL request to the Town for such material.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Aug 6, 14 9:36 PM
Was the letter sent to the Sisters of Mercy as a presumed property owner, and can the Town Board document this?
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Aug 6, 14 9:42 PM
I'm sure that Anna and the other TB members' benefactors living on Rose Hill expect them to do what they "paid" them to do--represent their interests and protect them from the rabble we locals are.

Good government is not cheap.
By cedric (22), Southampton on Aug 13, 14 10:08 PM
We have all had our say on the subject. Time to give it a rest as some of these posts are exactly what the nuns were trying to avoid and are probably not what Sister Jackie would want.
By Mrs.Sea (268), Sag Harbor on Aug 6, 14 9:44 PM
You are quite right. from what I have read about her, she would have been very distressed by all this attention. And I'm sure she's forgiven everyone.
By rabblerouser (46), Hampton Bays on Aug 6, 14 9:55 PM
This is not about the nuns or Sister Jackie alone. The greater issue concerns our elected officials. Who do they serve? What is there ethic?

They represent the Town and all of us. In this issue and other like issues, are they representing us in a manner we are comfortable with.

Are we pleased with the picture of our community and thus of ourselves that has been painted in the media?

Again I ask a simple question, if someone were the victim of a hit and death on our ...more
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Aug 6, 14 10:12 PM
1 member liked this comment
People want to know "why" there should be a sign?

Being a nun is beside the point, but maybe it's just too uncomfortable for the "residents" to be reminded of someone who was the COMPLETE polar opposite of themselves. Their reflection is in a mirror darkly compared to the good sister who took vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and gave herself to a life of service to others.

Maybe it's really not the act, but the person they care not to be reminded of which is responsible for ...more
Aug 6, 14 11:10 PM appended by Mr. Z
Providence forbid that every day people would pass by that blue sign, and possibly be reminded to "pay it forward" and help a person whom you find in need of it. Don't take a thin dime for your effort, and tell them to pay your good deed forward. Providence forbid...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Aug 6, 14 11:10 PM
I'm not outraged about the sign or the lack of a sign.

I remain outraged by the withholding of important information from the public which prevented the capture of the supposed suspect. It is very suspicious to me and I believe deals were made to help the supposed perpetrator escape from the country. I'll never forget it. I know palms are greased in backroom land use deals all the time, but this is different. This showed a complete lack of respect for human life in order to satisfy someone ...more
By btdt (449), water mill on Aug 7, 14 3:44 PM
1 member liked this comment
"Never grow weary of doing what is right."

~ Sr. Jackie Walsh

I think the sisters should change their minds. I've got almost four hundred signatures on a petition for the sign to remain (as of today), and the comments people have been leaving with their signatures are wonderful. They speak of a woman who would "move the Earth" to help another, and that the only real "discomfort" is the pain felt by those who loved her with all their hearts, and miss her deeply.
Aug 7, 14 4:41 PM appended by Mr. Z
This comment was rather poignant: "Sadly, residents opposed view it as a reminder of a tragedy, when it is intended to honor a life, not a death!"
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Aug 7, 14 4:41 PM
Would have been interesting to review the campaign finance committee report that was due on july 15 for the Supervisor.

But for some reason it hasn't yet been posted on the BOE site, presumably it hasn't been filed.

Might be something the Press might want to look into.

Funny how those filing obligations seem obligable to everyone but our Supervisor.
How are we to know whether donations had anything to do with the removal of the sign. i am not saying it did, or ...more
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Aug 7, 14 9:40 PM
to NTiger:

When was there ever a journalist on the East End? We've got "correspondents" who transcribe governmental, p.d., and school press releases (and sell advertising space.) If they did more, they'd be fired.

The only time that local residents learn anything about what's really going on is when one of the NYC papers takes an interest.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Aug 7, 14 10:06 PM
It is amazing how "politics" change when the People are permitted to speak.

Three days, one petition, and We will exceed one thousand signatures and the sentiment to back up an incredibly good woman's wisdom.

Either the people, or a pithy minority may yet rule...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Aug 8, 14 4:40 PM
Don't count on it NTiger. ATH is the teflon Queen.
By Justsay'n (42), Southampton on Aug 8, 14 7:29 PM
The signatures keep pouring in:

"I had the honor and privilege of knowing Sr. Jackie and words cannot describe what an incredible person she was. Nothing will lessen the sadness of her tragic death, especially not when the man who killed her remains free. Removing the street sign honoring Sr. Jackie because self-absorbed, petty people find it inconvenient would be another tragedy for the family and friends still grieving her loss. I urge you to do the right thing and let Sr. Jackie's memorial ...more
Aug 8, 14 8:25 PM appended by Mr. Z
"How tragically sad that this wonderful woman was accidentally killed by an unlicensed, illegal immigrant working as a gardener at a wealthy person's house. I think that the wealthy people in the neighborhood should, in addition to stopping their fussing about this small sign commemorating Sr. Jackie's life of service, use a little bit of the money they're saving by hiring off-the-books laborers to make a donation to the scholarship fund established in Sr. Jackie's name. " ~ Margaret Bolger Slotnick Sayville, NY
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Aug 8, 14 8:25 PM


Today marks the 25th month since Sister Walsh's tragic death. Her Parrish is hold a 5k Walk/Run to benefit the Memorial Fund established in her name, as part of the church's annual festival. ( st-edwards [dot] org )

Rest in Peace.

By PBR (4956), Southampton on Aug 9, 14 6:50 AM
Correction -- " is holding "
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Aug 9, 14 6:51 AM


The participant registration form quotes Sister Walsh:

“Do all you can for God’s people because time is short.”

By PBR (4956), Southampton on Aug 9, 14 6:57 AM
We are up to almost 1,200 signatures in less than four days.

People take note, people have spoken...
Aug 9, 14 7:28 PM appended by Mr. Z
From here, to Florida, to Cali, and from points in-between the consensus so far is DO NOT let a pithy minority make us weary of doing what is right...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Aug 9, 14 7:28 PM
If you want to put up a eruv that's ok. But a sign for a mutdered nun is wrong. I don't get it.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Aug 9, 14 7:43 PM
4 members liked this comment
Once again, Queen Anna is pandering to HER DONORS!!!!! Transparent, disgusting , petty behavior.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Aug 11, 14 6:09 AM
Just in case it got buried above -- because it's pretty far back there -- I'm going to reprise a little exchange between Mr. Z and me:

Mr. Z posted, re his petition in favor of the sign: "Over 1,200 signatures, and climbing."

In response, I posted: "So 1,200 people, none of whom live on your street -- maybe some of whom even live in a different state -- should be able to tell you what the name of your street ought to be?"

This is about home rule at the most basic level. ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Aug 11, 14 2:42 PM
Come on George, there was no change in the name of Rose Hill Road. There was simply an additional memorial to the deceased nun.

The excuse, I don't want to have to explain who Sister Jackie was and why is about as lame as they come. Intrinsically evil. That depends on whether you find selfish self interest to be intrinsically evil.

In my book it is.

Perhaps not in yours. But evidently it is in the view of the vast majority of those commenting here and elsewhere. As ...more
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Aug 11, 14 3:04 PM
1 member liked this comment
It wasn't just signatures. There were so many comments from those who knew her, and those who wanted the sign removed were purely selfish. She made a significant contribution to THOUSANDS of lives. According to Mr. Carley, that is a valid reason for a memorial. The proof is in the pudding. According to his own words, her actions have deemed her worthy.

The "wealthy" tend to throw money at "problems", and ease their consciences with "benefits", which the beneficiaries do not ordinarily ...more
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Aug 12, 14 2:13 AM
So an addition is not a change, is that what you're saying, NTiger? Wrong. John Smith is one person; add "Junior" and you've got a different person. William is one person; add "King" in the front and you've got a very different person. Try this: "All the rest of my estate I leave to my beloved daughter Susan." Now add ". . . but only on the condition that she not marry until she reaches the age of twenty-one." Big change, right? So let's have no more of this addition-is-not-a-change nonsense.

What ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Aug 12, 14 11:34 AM
George, your assertion that some home a sign above a sign denoting the roads of Montauk Highway and Rose Hill Road some how change the name of either of those roads is preposterous.

And statisticians well know that anti's respond to a far greater degree than proponents.

It was, is and always will remain a question of ethics and morality or lack thereof.

The complainant reason for requesting the sign (as far as is ascertainable the only expression of dissent prior to ...more
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Aug 12, 14 5:53 PM
You want a good reason to request the removal of the sign George.

This would, to me, be a good reason.

An 8 year old child saw the body in the street and the had nightmares and the sign reminded that child of this horrific event

That is a just reason George, not I don't want to have to explain to my guests who Sister Jackie was.

Hows that for logic and reasoning, George?

By NTiger (543), Southampton on Aug 12, 14 5:55 PM