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Village Board ‘Encouraged’ by Meeting With Verizon Execs

If you haven’t heard by now, some residents are none too pleased with Verizon or the Village of Garden City. In fact, a disgruntled group of homeowners vented their frustrations at the most recent village board meeting. The residents, who live on 13th Avenue in Mineola, insist the noise and odor emanating from the nearby Verizon Wireless facility is deteriorating their quality of life.

Up until now, it seemed that most of the people who are being affected by the building lived solely in Mineola. Dina Silva spoke on behalf of her Portugese-speaking father, Rui Salsinha, to explain her parents are the only Garden City residents who live on the block bordering the Verizon facility, which is located on Herricks Road. For months, the residents have complained that the generator tests have caused an increase in noise and black smoke from the building.

Silva told the board that her parents should have been informed about what is going on inside the building, which she says is located 150 to 200 feet from the back of her house. “It was just a brick building and now there’s these monstrous machines that are not only one level but two or maybe even three levels high in the back that, to me, we should have been informed about,” Silva said.

Silva explained that her father can no longer sleep in the back of his house, especially when the main generator is on. “I don’t think that’s fair that we were not notified of what was going to be done here and I really need some answers,” she stated.

Superintendent of Buildings Michael Filippon explained that the problem is being addressed. He announced that he and other village board members recently met with “high level executives” at Verizon regarding the sound levels. “They want to be very cooperative with us. We’ve instructed them that we intend to take independent sound readings there and we will do this in consort with Mineola. We reached out to the mayor of Mineola to help us select a firm that he will have confidence in. We will take these readings simultaneously, the two firms together, both our firm and the Verizon firm. Whatever remediation they recommend will have to take place,” Filippon stated.

According to Filippon, the goal of the project is to get the sound levels down prior to what they were or below that. He also clarified that the equipment on the roof is not generators as stated, but three large air handlers and three condensers that support those air handlers. Filippon went on to say, “We hope before this is all over with we will get the offending situation reduced to the point where it is certainly tolerable.”

Silva also inquired if there was a chimney placed at the Verizon site. Filippon stated that it was not a chimney but an exhaust pipe that releases a puff of smoke. “I have met personally with Garden City Village Administrator Bob Schoelle and Mayor Martins to discuss the issues…we will do everything we possibly can to get these, the noise and the smell, abated,” said Filippon.

Mayor Robert J. Rothschild attempted to assuage Silva’s concerns and said steps were being taken to communicate with the Village of Mineola and Verizon. Silva wanted Mayor Rothschild to know that she is in a unique situation as her parents are the only residents from Garden City on the block near the Verizon facility. “I feel the village of Mineola is representing those residents so I need the Village of Garden City representing us,” she stated.

Mineola resident Suzanne Coyne addressed Filippon directly explaining that originally she was told tests on the generators were supposed to take place only once a month. “I’ve been in the house 22 years and what we deal with every Wednesday is not what we dealt with before,” Coyne stated. Filippon responded that these tests have been held mid-day every week for six years.

Village Administrator Bob Schoelle stated that he had joined Filippon in the talks with Verizon execs and was encouraged. He told the residents that the executives had “done their homework” and walked on the site. “They sincerely expressed to us their willingness to be good neighbors to you and to the Village of Garden City. I left the meeting with a very good feeling that they were going to do all that they could,” Schoelle stated. He also said steps were being taken and residents would be advised of the outcome. “Please believe what I am saying,” he added.

Another vocal Mineola resident, Idalina Ferreira, said she has lived for 32 years in her house and the noise was never the way it is now. Ferreira stated that despite complaining to both villages, nothing has been done. “We can’t live like that,” she said. “My patience is gone,” Ferreira added.

The mayor asked Ferreira to give the board an opportunity do what they needed to do to get the sound engineers in. “We will take care of it. Please trust us,” Rothschild said.

Patricia DiMattia, president of the Central Property Owners’ Association, also spoke out saying she had no idea the issue affected Garden City residents. “I support Mineola and their complaints and we should do whatever and everything we can to minimize the noise and smell and aromas and whatever is going on,” she said. DiMattia also offered her assistance at the POA level in dealing with the matter.

Eastern Property Owners Association president Tom Pinou asked Filippon whether a concrete piling wall would help drown out the noise that residents are complaining about. Filippon said that before anyone suggests what remediation should be done, he wants to bring in the experts. “One of the things they have already suggested is putting in a raised planting bed with very tall trees along the eastern boundary line between the site and those homes. Trees have a way of not only providing a visual barrier but they absorb a lot of sound. There are things I said that could be done with the building itself and, we’re very anxious to see what things might be available that we’re not even aware of. So this is going to be a process,” Filippon stated.

It was also stated by Filippon that Verizon executives acknowledged that the facility is indeed very loud and something has to be done about it. “Verizon is not being defensive here, they’re not putting up obstacles to our suggestions. They, as I said, displayed a willingness to be as cooperative as they can,” he stated.

While Filippon said he sympathizes with the residents living near the building, he also explained that most likely there will always be some type of sound at the facility. “This is not going to be an easy solution. We need to be realistic here. We’re never going to get it to zero sound. That’s a physical impossibility. What we hope to achieve is that it’s below reasonable and tolerable levels that are acceptable. And they may never be acceptable to some of these people,” Filippon said.