Representatives from Costco Wholesale recently attended a meeting of the Duffy Park Civic Association to discuss the construction of a 148,000-square-foot facility on the southwest corner of Charlotte Avenue and West John Street. The Tuesday, April 9 meeting, which was held at the Old Country Road School, was attended by some 50 residents, including members of the NorthWest and Jericho Gardens Civic Associations.
In December 2001, Costco Wholesale Corporation and Westbury Realty, which owns the property, submitted an application to the Town of Oyster Bay requesting to build a Costco Wholesale store at the site of the former Jones Institute, a senior facility which closed in the late 1970s. The property, which would run westerly to the intersection of Cantiague Rock Road and southerly to the railroad, is currently an empty lot. Two years ago, residents spoke out against the possibility of constructing a Home Depot on the site.
Louis Soloway, an attorney with the East Meadow firm of Certilman Balin Adler & Hyman who is representing Costco, said the site would house only the Costco store, which includes a tire center and 741 parking spaces. No other retail store would be constructed on the property.
Rusty Collins of Costco Wholesale said that bushes and shrubs, as well as a spring mix and grass, would be planted around the property to make the area more aesthetically pleasing. "Costco's standard maintenance program is we irrigate everything," said Collins. "We have a maintenance program where we have people, on a biweekly basis, come out, mow the grass areas and also prune or replace dead shrubs. He also said that parking would be centrally located around the building and all deliveries, compactors and utilities would be located in the back of the building so as not to be seen from the street.
There will be approximately 15 to 20 trucks delivering solely to the Hicksville store on a daily basis. Most deliveries, excluding perishables such as eggs, bread and milk, will come from the company's distribution center in New Jersey. Therefore, most trucks will access the site from either Cantiague Rock Road or West John Street, but will only be able to enter the site via a service driveway off of West John. Receiving hours are limited to four hours a day, from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. only.
Residents, however, state that the effect traffic to and from the facility has on the residential community is a concern. "Our biggest concern is that traffic coming straight off the Northern State Parkway at the Brush Hollow Road exit will wind by right at that main entrance to the facility," said a representative from the Jericho Gardens Civic Association. "It will pass through our residential neighborhood and [the] BOCES school located right there on Cantiague Lane. Our main concern is how we are going to control traffic once people find out the quickest way into the facility is right off the Northern State Parkway."
Vincent Iavarone, a traffic and parking consultant with
VMI Maris, said that the trade area that will serve the new Costco will come primarily from the north, east and south. "There is not going to be a great deal of traffic coming from the west because the [Westbury] Costco accommodates that area," he said. "So the amount of traffic coming on the parkway from that direction will be relatively light. People who cut through a community are normally people who go to the same destination everyday. They get to know the streets system and the easiest ways through. Costco shoppers are not everyday shoppers. It is going to be very difficult for someone who is coming from the west to know this is a cut-through."
Iavarone added that it will be rare for shoppers to frequent the Hicksville store from outside of the immediate area. "We know there is an existing store [in Westbury] and that it does very well," he said. "It accommodates that area. People are not going to go past that store and come to this one. Shoppers have a destination and are not going to go beyond that destination."
Currently, several points of access into and out of the parking lot from West John Street, Charlotte Avenue and Cantiague Rock Road have been included into the plans. Making lefts in and out of the lot and across three lanes of traffic onto already congested roadways, said residents, can increase traffic and accidents.
"There should only be right turns allowed at West John Street," said Tony Sorvillo of the NorthWest Civic Association. "With the exit on West John Street, anyone wanting to go to West John could make the right turn only onto West John and anybody wanting to go to Cantiague Road could leave at the traffic light. It would be a lot better and a lot safer."
According to Collins, the West John entrance has been designed as a right in and right out only. "Because of the volumes, you cannot come out from here and make a left turn onto West John," he said. As for Charlotte Avenue, Collins said the exit and entrance are both currently designed as a full-movement access.
Sorvillo, however, said that the proximity of the store's driveway to the traffic light at Charlotte and West John could cause a problem. "If you have someone leaving the Charlotte Avenue exit trying to make a left, while other people are trying to make a left in from Charlotte Avenue, it is going to cause gridlock and accidents there. We, living here, see what the traffic is like now."
According to Soloway, a traffic study is currently being conducted at the request of the town. Counts are being done at the intersections of West John Street at Cantiague Rock Road, Charlotte Avenue, Newbridge Road, Broadway and Duffy Avenue as well as at Charlotte and Duffy and Charlotte and Old Country Road. Such traffic studies are expected to be complete by the end of the month.
Overall, Soloway said the meeting went well. "All of the residents' concerns that were expressed will be addressed by Costco," he said. "We are hoping that the town will see fit and act on our application in a speedy manner." If approved, construction of the Hicksville Costco is anticipated to be complete by July 2003.