At the last meeting of the New Hyde Park Village Board, Deputy Mayor Robert Lofaro made the stunning announcement that the LIRR has changed its position on the purpose for the third track.
Deputy Mayor Lofaro said, "The Long Island Rail Road has reversed its position on the purpose of the $1 billion project of adding the third track." Lofaro said, "Their main reason, originally, on why they needed to do this was reverse commuting. The Long Island Association as well as Newsday and a whole array of other media outlets including Channel 12 News all felt that the villages, such as the Village of New Hyde Park, were being very shortsighted in not looking at the regional needs.
"Now, the president of the LIRR, Helena Williams, is admitting that a 'reverse commute' is non-existent. We, in the village, called it a myth. She has stated in public and on the record that in fact a reverse commute is not the reason for the project, but that they want to create a passing lane so that trains will not suffer from residual delay. A $1 billion passing lane? The mayor will expand more on a meeting he had with the members of CARE (Citizens Against Rail Expansion) held in Floral Park last Thursday. We are delighted to be armed with this new information and it is our hope that this will go somewhere. But the posture of the LIRR of wanting this because of reverse commuting has always been, to us, not true. So, hopefully, they have 'shot themselves in the foot.'
Petruccio said, "Last week I attended the CARE meeting that we had at the Floral Park Recreation Center. Usually we meet at 7 p.m., but put it off until 9 p.m., because Mineola Village was having an informational meeting with its residents regarding the railroad expansion. They are obviously on the front line and in fact they already have one phase of the project, Roslyn Road, in the process and they see the toll it has taken on the community not to mention the length of time.
"So we had a very effective meeting and a lot of good dialogue. At this point I think we have a consensus among the different villages on how we feel this is going. And, we are very encouraged by the recent statements of LIRR President Helene Williams. In the realm of just common sense, if a plan is predicated on three points and one of the three points, the primary point, is a fallacy, it is logical you have to question the entire plan.
"Another piece of information is, as you know we are in the process of collecting petitions to present to our Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy, asking her just one simple question and that is to state her position regarding the expansion project. We think it's a fair question and not a 'loaded' question. And, we received our answer, as reported by one of her staff members, in a recent issue of the Mineola American. Her position is that she remains 'neutral' on this issue and her position has not changed. Her purpose for remaining neutral is to 'better negotiate' with the MTA on behalf of her residents when the time comes.
"Based on that, the CARE organization has put out a request for Congresswoman McCarthy to meet with this group that has representatives from every village from Bellerose to Westbury, a large part of her constituent base. We want to sit with her and have her sit across the table from us and tell us that the most important issue in this community, ever, is an issue that she has to remain neutral on. Our next meeting will be in January and we have asked that she attend that meeting. However, if she is not available then give us another date. We cannot fight this battle without the support of our congresswoman."
Petruccio continued, "This is not political posturing. I don't care about Republicans or Democrats. To be honest with you, I am a member of the 'cynical' party. I just want a firm statement by my elected representative as to whether or not she supports us. So I know when we go into battle who is behind us as opposed to nobody. And, there is clear consensus among the members of the CARE organization that they want this to happen. If we need to focus as a community then lets go with that. We have 250 signatures so far. The village has done a good job of getting it out there. It has been mailed to every single home and it's on the electric signboard. Sending back the petitions with just two signatures from your house is not the intent of the drive. We have until the end of this month and we will then present them to Congresswoman McCarthy, hopefully at the meeting we have asked her to attend. We really need to do a better job in collecting petitions. Each petition represents a vote."
At the last meeting of the New Hyde Park Village Board, trustee Richard Coppola reported that the New Hyde Park Fire Department wanted to remind residents to please keep the fire hydrants, in front of their residence, clear when it snows.
The fire department also wanted to remind residents if they have "live" Christmas trees be sure to keep them watered, don't overload outlets and be very careful with candles and don't have them around children.
Trustee Coppola also said he wanted to give a "public" thanks to the New Hyde Park Auxiliary Police officers who were on duty during the recent tree lighting event.
Further, trustee Coppola announced that there will be a Youth Night Holiday Party held at the William Gill Theatre, which is on the top floor of village hall on December 14 to start about 6:30 p.m. He said that the ages attending these youth events seem to be ages 10 to 14. There will be refreshments and trustee Coppola said, "New Hyde Park Village Clerk is looking into buying a ping-pong table for the kids and perhaps some kind of a hockey table game, along with the showing of movies. We are also looking into other things that we could do for the kids."
Coppola also announced that the New Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce Holiday Party will be held at Umberto's at 6 p.m. on Dec. 10.
He also announced that the Christmas lights have gone up on Jericho Turnpike and he thanked Department of Public Works Superintendent James McCloat and his crew. McCloat, who was present at the meeting, said that they have contracted a cheaper vendor so the expense won't be so costly. Further, it was pointed out that the chamber buys new lights every year to replace the lights that have burnt out.
Deputy Mayor Robert Lofaro reported that the first snowfall brought out the men of the DPW and they sanded the roads right away in order to keep residents of the village safe.
He also announced that the Yard Waste Program in the village was over for the season and will resume the first Wednesday in April.
Since trustee Daniel Barbieri was not present at the meeting, Mayor Daniel Petruccio gave his report. He said that the Annual Tree Lighting was held at village hall and the mayor said he appreciated all the trustees in attendance as well as the village justice.
He thanked Lisa Miranda and her Cultural Committee for obtaining the magician for the children and of course Santa Claus. He said, "It has become a rich young tradition in our community. My daughter is almost 15 years old and I barely mentioned it to her, but she managed to come and she said it's something she looks forward to every year and for her it's truly the beginning of the season. So, it's a proud day in the village when we express our holiday spirit in that way. State Bank of Long Island is the agency that sponsors that particular event for us and have been doing so for many years and we thank them, as well."
Petruccio continued, "Everything looked wonderful outside, thanks to the Beautification Committee and we do appreciate their efforts."
Montreuil said, "There were 51 building department permits issued in the month of November. It continues a downturn. It was a 7 percent downturn from last November and year to date we are down 12 percent over the same time last year for building permits.
"There were 37 Certificates of Occupancy issued in November representing a 32 percent drop from last November and on a yearly basis the building department issued a total of 225 such certificates representing a 1 percent downturn as compared to last year."
Montreuil said, "They are monitoring the final stages of construction of East Management on 117 on South Seventh Street and it is near completion.
"Further they are also monitoring the new temple, 100 Lakeville Road and the building department is still waiting for the revised plans. The building department tends to look at different aspects of buildings and currently they have been very diligent in addressing complaint calls on illegal cellar apartments as well as residents doing construction without permits in place. Once they do an inspection and ascertain the legality or lack thereof, they take appropriate steps to encourage the construction be brought up to code.
"There are two illegal apartment cases on the court docket on December 19. Both residents have retained counsel and we will be addressing those charges at that time.
"Further, there is also some pending legislation before the village board and I believe we are scheduled to have a hearing on December 19 to consider a local law that will require special permits and variances to be acted on within a certain period of time. The superintendent of building and our legal counsel got together and thought it would be prudent to make this recommendation so that these things don't stay open indefinitely."
Montreuil then went on to discuss the Zoning Board. He said that the next meeting will be on December 13, which is a Thursday, which is different because it usually is on a Wednesday. He commented, "There will be three cases before the board. One is Gino's Restaurant, 111 and 113 Jericho Turnpike, seeking parking relief. Another is 34 South 12 Street, which is a residential property requesting relief from the size and bulk of the building and 411 New Hyde Park Road which requests a special exception permit. The property has been sold and the former owner had a special exception for a "mother-daughter" at that location. They sold the home and moved out without removing the apartment, which often happens. That opens the door for the homeowner to enjoy a better market value for their home than other residents in the neighborhood who have single-family homes. I have asked counsel to consider some possible modifications to the special exception code and I will report back to the board."
Montreuil then announced that the New Hyde Park Road School enjoyed its 80th Anniversary. He said, "I too, want to add my thanks for those who helped with the tree lighting ceremonies. We are looking at various alternatives for this building and we are even considering establishing a New Hyde Park Museum on the second floor to display archives of the heritage of New Hyde Park for generations to come. So, please get in touch with me here at village hall at 354-0022 if you have some material that you might like to donate to such a museum."
The following license renewals were approved by the board:
D.F.Allen & Company
Jamaica Ash & Rubbish Removal
Tow Car Owner
Nuzzi Brothers Auto Collision
Jericho Hope Cleaners, Inc.
Wong's Garden, Inc.
The meeting ended and the next New Hyde Park Village Board meeting will be held on December 18 at 8 p.m. at village hall, corner of New Hyde Park Road and Jericho Turnpike, New Hyde Park.