Prior to the New Hyde Park Village Board meeting, the board held a Special Use Hearing for a building located at 611 Jericho Turnpike, New Hyde Park.
The tenant, Susana Rabines is a chiropractor and wants to renovate the building, once used for the offices of the former Cellini Lodge, for a few examining rooms and a waiting room for her use as a single chiropractor. She explained that her hours would probably be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and then from 3 to 7 p.m. and depending on the number of clients, she would be open five to six days a week.
The board closed the hearing and will now send the application to the Nassau County Planning Board and when they pass on the plans renovation may begin.
The board then opened the meeting, as is the custom, to questions from the public.
Several residents were on hand to complain about Nuzzi Park. One resident said that residents of Floral Park come over and use the basketball court and the fields at Nuzzi Park and leave a mess. He wanted to know why Nuzzi Park couldn't have an attendant just as Memorial Park.
Mayor Daniel Petruccio wanted to know how it was determined they were from Floral Park and the resident said he asked them where they were from and they said Floral Park. He went on to say, "They come over, they start cursing in front of the small children and then they throw the swings over the top of the swing set and then they swing them around and there is garbage all over the place. Plus, they urinate by the bathroom doors if they are locked, and the kids try to get on the baseball field, but I chase them away."
The mayor wanted to know if there was a time pattern for the intrusion. The resident said it was all different - they drive with their cars, come with their bicycles. Further, the resident said, if the field is wet at Floral Park then they come to New Hyde Park, and if it's locked they come through the back gate.
Trustee Richard Coppola said, "I investigated this and I am writing to Floral Park to see why they lock the gate to their fields. Further, I have gotten a price to put up a safety fence so that they can't climb over it. Additionally, I spoke to the members of the New Hyde Park Little League and we are going to work together to see what we can do. He said that usually, at Nuzzi Field, kids don't come to the field in cars because the field is too small for them. They usually come with bikes."
Mayor Petruccio said, "There is one principle here and that is if they are using the field they are in violation of a village ordinance by using that field without a permit or supervision."
Department of Public Works Supervisor Jim McCloat said, "We have other problems late at night in that park. They do come with their cars and go into the park and drink beer. In fact, one day I found the post with the basketball on it bent all the way to the ground and we had to buy a new one. Those are older kids and they are 18 or 19 years old."
A resident added, "We found bullets in the dugout."
McCloat said, "We have syringes and other things, but a park attendant wouldn't be the answer because this happens during the night."
Mayor Petruccio said, "We were originally thinking of installing cameras, but it was ascertained that they would be very expensive, but we are still looking into it."
McCloat added, "When I first came here we had lights in Nuzzi Park, but the residents said they lit up their properties too much and they couldn't sleep. I really think if we could figure out a way to put lighting in there that wouldn't be disruptive, that would be a solution."
The resident said, again, "If we have an attendant for Memorial Park, why can't we have one for Nuzzi?"
Mayor Petruccio pointed out that the fields are different. He said, "Memorial is much bigger and has multiple baseball fields. They do both have play areas and at Memorial there are tennis courts and eventually there will be a hockey rink; there is a gazebo. I think part of it is usage and that justified the attendant at Memorial. We are not opposed to the idea of an attendant at that park, we just want to make sure we are using our money wisely."
Mayor Petruccio said the last thing he wanted to do was to have a confrontation of New Hyde Park residents with intruders. He said, "You don't know where they are from, they may look like kids, but you don't know what they are on or what you are dealing with. So, we really don't want complications if we don't have to have them."
He asked McCloat if the police have a right to ask those in the park if they are from New Hyde Park.
McCloat said, "They do, but he said he came up with the idea of possibly engaging the Floral Park police to look at our parks. But, I don't know if that is even possible. They are right next door all the time."
Petruccio said, "I hate to say it, but it might be to the benefit of their police not to have these kids in their parks."
McCloat added, "I don't necessarily think these kids are from Floral Park or they could be from Floral Park, Queens."
Petruccio said, "Our fields are not supposed to be used for pickup games."
McCloat said, "Two weeks ago there was going to be tournament play so not only did we lock the field but we put barricades, so that even little kids would go in because it was raining and muddy. They took the barricades and threw them all over the fence."
Deputy Mayor Lofaro said, "Basically, the parks are to be used for village residents only, but we don't have a written policy or code because of the complications the village residents would suffer, as well, if we were to enforce the policy."
The resident said, "If I pay my village taxes to live in the community then I don't want my children to hear cursing in their park."
Lofaro continued, "Like anything else, it comes down to how much do you want to spend to solve the problem. Even spending the money doesn't always solve the problem. We spent money for park attendants who were young adults. They were there so that we could keep the bathrooms open because we had been told by our attorney not to keep the bathrooms open when there was no attendant because the village would be liable. We found out that we were really no better off with the attendants because they were not empowered to verify residency. We encountered a lot of problems we never anticipated. So, we abandoned the project after two years. We then thought about hiring older individuals, like the one in Memorial Park and we still have issues."
McCloat said, "Yes, but he keeps that park clean. But at Nuzzi after a weekend you arrive to find bottles everywhere."
Mayor Petuccio said, "The best way to deal with the problem is to just call 911 and let them handle the situation. I know it's against our nature to call 911 for something that seems minor, but that's what the police have advised us to do."
Trustee Lawrence Montreuil said, "Can I make a suggestion, you might consider. Why not ask the Third Precinct to change the Post Exchange location (when they change cars at a shift change) to Nuzzi Field for the summer months. In this way we would have a police presence.
Mayor Petruccio said, "We want to solve the problem and we are not adverse to trying something different and we are concerned. But we still feel that a call to 911 is the way to go."
Mayor Petruccio and Supervisior McCloat both said that graffiti has become a problem in both parks and they are dealing with that as well.
Lofaro said, "It happens all over. It's at New Hyde Park Road School all the time. Kids are playing in the park or just in the park when they shouldn't be. So they are told to leave and they do and basically, they have no place to go so they gravitate to the sumps."
POP officer reminds residents to make sure you let neighbors know when you are on vacation and if you see anything suspicious in your neighborhood just dial 911.
Coppola said that the fire department wants to remind everyone that now that pools are open to please practice pool safety. He suggested that safety alarms in pools might be an added safety measure for residents to make sure that their pools are safe.
He announced a recent All-Star game was played at Nuzzi Field and that the New Hyde Park Little League is working on a better program for the kids. He commended DPW Supervisor McCloat for keeping the fields in such great shape.
Parks & Recreation
The Summer Program will begin on July 9 and will run until Aug. 9.
Lofaro reported that the DPW has been busy planting 100 trees throughout the village in New Hyde Park. He said the village is trying to fill in areas that have no trees at all.
He said that the Beautification Committee, along with many Scout troops, did all the planting at village hall as well as in the pots all along Jericho Turnpike. He congratulated Rich Pallisco and his committee for all the work they did.
He also announced that the DPW pothole crews were out, and any residents who have any problems should contact the village.
He said that the village website has been updated and it has announcements on it as well.
He announced that on May 31 the LIRR held a meeting at New Hyde Park Inn for a variety of civic groups in New Hyde Park to discuss the plans for the LIRR third track. He said, "New Hyde Park Village was the only village selected to have this meeting. It's important to educate yourself to find out what is happening and be informed when you attend the public meetings they will schedule. Basically, the one element of the project they are looking to change from their original proposal is instead of eliminating the "at grade crossing" at Covert Avenue they are proposing to put quad gates, which are four gates instead of two, which will make it impossible to get around and to put a third track without putting a tunnel there as is proposed at New Hyde Park Road. They are predicting that the gates will be down 49 minutes out of every hour during rush hour. They feel that would eliminate the need for them to tear homes down. Is it a viable solution? It is up to all of us to provide an opinion. The village will provide an opinion as well. Does it save the LIRR lots of money? Yes. But, it isn't about them it's about us, so we need to provide support."
Mayor Petruccio said, "I think as a board we have come to the conclusion that at the point we are at with discussions with the railroad is that we don't want them to say that the plan they eventually present is in conjunction with the local municipalities and I feel that will be how it will be worded. Our job is to disseminate information as quickly as possible. They just want to get the third track with the least amount of money and with the least amount of resistance."
Lofaro continued, "At our last meeting we passed a resolution authorizing the mayor to be a director of a group entitled, "Citizens Against Rail Expansion" and they are called CARE and they are represented by all the village along the main line corridor. It was established as a nonprofit group and received a $25,000 grant from New York State Senator Dean Skelos and that money can be used at the discretion of the directors of the organization. They have hired an environmental law firm that will start looking at the LIRR projects and will represent villages along the main line corridor. So, we are unifying with our sister villages, we are standing strong as our own village and ultimately, this board is looking to represent the voice of the people. We are not negotiating with the railroad and we are just listening to their plans and we hope we can get them to do more that the residents would want but getting what we want has been a difficult task."
Mayor Petruccio said, "Effectively, they will close Covert Avenue during rush hour if their plans go through as well as South 12th Street."
He announced that he attended the second opening of the library on Lakeville Road and it was wonderful.
He also announced that the summer season has opened in Memorial Park. On July 11 The Clusters will be performing at Memorial Park at 7:30 p.m. Plus, The Wizard of Oz will take place on July 18 at 7:30 p.m. with a raindate of July 19. The dates will also be on the website.
Due to the efforts of Village Clerk Patrick Farrell and DPW James McCloat there will be further beautification in conjunction with the Downtown Project in the various parking lots.
He also announced that he and Farrell met with Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy to bring her up-to-date with various projects in the village including the LIRR, and she promised she would look to see what the railroad's final plans are before she states her position. But we were assured that the "quality of life" issue we pointed out was going to weigh heavily on her opinion of the project.
He announced that the Zoning Board heard four cases and they were all approved but they delayed decision on 516 Cherry Lane. The next meeting will be July 11. Cases to be discussed will be 1602 Washington Avenue requesting a variance for a fence height and 32 South 12th Street requesting as variance on the code to limit the height of a building.
He also announced that on June 2 he met with the village attorney to review the sign codes from various villages and drafted some framework to revise sign codes for New Hyde Park with a special emphasis on the commercial district of Jericho Turnpike.
The Building Department he said is remaining very diligent regarding any illegal apartments in the area and urge any residents that have any such information to please contact the Building Department and all that information will be kept confidential.
He said that the Village of New Hyde Park is losing a valuable asset in the loss of Pastor Eric Olsen. He said, "I would like say that he has never said no to any request made from the village. He will be missed and we want to wish him well on his new assignment."
He further said that Bea in the village office is also retiring and that she has been the positive "face" of the village for many years and we want to wish her well.
Another issue that has been brought to the attention of the building department is, that anyone who lives near a commercial building, they, too, are under the same rules as homeowners in maintaining their property. Just call the village and issue a complaint and the building department will look into the violation.
Further, he announced that someone has been hired to clean Jericho Turnpike and he will also have the ability to issue a summons to anyone who is not maintaining their property; but he hoped that the village would not have to resort to giving out summonses.
A village resident on Covert Street wanted to know the status of the shrubs that have been promised to be planted near a fence of a commercial establishment that abuts her home. She said she is getting tired of always coming to the village with the same complaint. There were other complaints about the same owner and the building and zoning department will be looking into those complaints.
The meeting finally ended and the next meeting was set, in the summer schedule, for July 17 at 8 p.m. at village hall.