Sign for nun removed; some found it depressing

August 11, 2014 - 12:04 PM

WATER MILL, N.Y. (AP) — A street sign memorializing a nun killed in a hit-and-run has been removed after residents called it depressing.

The sign designating Rose Hill Road in the Hamptons as "Sister Jackie's Way" was removed last week, after a monthslong standoff between the local road official who installed it and residents and town board members who wanted it gone, Newsday (http://nwsdy.li/1uCPFbm ) said Monday.

The sign honored Sister Jacqueline Walsh, who died as she walked along the road in July 2012. The 59-year-old nun lived in Syosset and was attending an event at a Sisters of Mercy retreat house in Water Mill, a scenic hamlet near tony Southampton.

Police sought a suspect but never were able to find him. They believe he left the country.

Southampton Town Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor installed the $45 sign last year.

Neighbors soon began complaining that it was upsetting. "Your sign is a painful reminder of a dreadful crime" and the lack of an arrest, one wrote to Gregor.

After a survey of 39 neighborhood residents found 17 didn't like it — two did, two had no opinion and 18 didn't respond — the town board asked Gregor to remove it. He refused. Then parks employees took it down last month, and he put it back up. Days later, the town attorney's office opined that he didn't have the authority to name streets.

But Gregor says he ultimately removed it for another reason: because the nuns lamented the controversy.

A spokeswoman for the order's regional office in Merion Station, Pennsylvania, said the sisters continue to mourn and honor Walsh.

"They really choose to remember her in their daily prayer," spokeswoman said Debbi Della Porta said.

The sign is now in Gregor's office.

"It was just a celebration of the woman's life," he told Newsday.