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Williston Park Holds Marathon Session of Hearings/Meeting

The Village of Williston Park held a marathon meeting that lasted well past 11 p.m.  The first portion of the meeting was for three hearings and the second portion for the regular meeting.

Hearing for In-ground Pool

The first hearing was for a special exception to build an in-ground swimming pool on Canterbury Road, Williston Park.  Because the application to build the pool conformed to the code of the Village of Williston Park, it was approved in short order.

Hearing for Bocci Gelato

The next hearing was to establish a Gelato store at 591 Willis Avenue to be known as Bocci Gelato.  Currently, it is located in the Albertson area at 1136 Willis Avenue, but the owners, Alan Aingorn and Doran Soshan, explained their lease is up and they would like to relocate.

It was established by the attorney for the Gelato establishment, Richard Reers, that all of the cards that were sent out to notify property owners in the vicinity were sent back in addition to seven written consent of property owners that live in the area.

Reers explained that the application was filed by A.D. Gelato, Inc. and they basically produce and sell fresh made gelato, sorbet, coffee, cappuccino, espresso, crepes, milkshakes, smoothies, non-alcoholic beverages and some pastries.

He said, “They have a long record and I have included an article from The New York Times that praises their operation. The property is basically located between Goodrich Street and Remsen Street, the business previously in that location was Tap-to-Pointe and across the street is the Williston House.  

“The premises has behind it to the west a parking area which accommodates 22 parking spaces and they are shared by properties from 591 to 599 Willis Avenue.  The building is 1276 square feet and is 29 wide by 44  feet deep and under the code this would necessitate having 13 parking spaces.  The applicant constitutes two stores because of its size and in reality it has eight parking spaces that are attributed to this location.  

“An interesting situation occurs, however, at that location in that the bagel store closes between 3 and 4 p.m. at a time when the Gelato business begins to “gear” up.  

“In addition, to the east is a municipal parking lot that accommodates and provides up to an hour and a half parking.  If you look at  their operation they are open seven days a week.  On Monday to Thursday from 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to about 11 p.m. and on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.”

Reers continued, “Typically, they have three people working at the premises which will include one of the owners.  Most of the employees are local high school students from Herricks and Mineola.

“They will receive their deliveries in a very small van and it consists of about three boxes at about 9 a.m. and takes a short time to deliver. Milk is delivered five days a week and is left at the rear door of the premises in the parking area.  Paper goods for the premises are delivered on Tuesdays and Fridays between 9 a.m. and noon.  There are no deliveries on Saturday or Sunday.

“We believe that this business will be an asset to the community and it will not conflict with any other business or by the residents and a complement to the other businesses.”

Mayor Ehrbar wanted to know if it was basically a retail business and it was confirmed it was. He said, “You expect the main hours to be in the evening, yet you are opening up early in the morning and it was confirmed that was correct.

The next discussion was about garbage.  The mayor said, “We have garbage cans we set up throughout the village that we maintain and would you be willing to put this type receptacle into your expense and empty it each night?  I know people might walk by there and drop garbage, but we need to check to see if that type of receptacle would fit into the area.”

Attorney Reers said, “I am sure there is no objection to putting that type of receptacle for the garbage.”

It was also established they would be heating waffles and crepes on a hot plate. It was also discussed that two benches would be installed and they would be similar to the ones already in the village.  It was also established that there would be no cooking.

At this time they are freezing the garbage and Mayor Ehrbar said it would be preferred in this location as well and he said it would be best to discuss discarding of the cans and milk bottles.

Trustee Thomann said, “We really need to clarify just exactly what you are doing with the garbage.”

Attorney Reers said that what they are doing now with the garbage is, putting it in a freezer  

A resident who lives on Remsen Street said his concern was both the garbage and the parking.  He said that people park in front of his driveway because the parking lot is absolutely packed.

Another resident from Remsen Street said that parking on Remsen Street is tough.  He said that STS Tire employees start work early in the morning and they park on Remsen and those in the Williston House also park on Remsen.  

The resident said, “I understand everyone has to make a living.  Up to now Tap-to-Pointe was a ‘home run’ for us because the kids would be dropped off by their moms and then picked up again with no parking involved.”

He added, “Just take a look at the parking situation and if people have to park across the street, my guess is they won’t come to that store because Willis Avenue is a very dangerous street to cross.  

“There will be a problem on Remsen because it is always packed with cars in and out.  I think the owners should just go there and take a look at what is going on in that area.”

One of the owners said, “My business is truly a summertime business and people usually come after dinner.  Further, I will do everything I can to make sure no one parks in front of any driveway.”

The hearing was closed but will remain open for 10 days for the applicant to submit a garbage plan to the board.  No decision was voted on at this time.

Creperie and Café on Hillside Avenue

The next hearing was for the installation of a Fresco Creperie and Café to be located at 72 Hillside Avenue in a one story masonry building that is zoned for Commercial to be run by Stephen Guasco and Louis Corcione.

The attorney, Michael Holland, of Willis Avenue, explained that the owners, Stephen Cuasco and Louis Corcione, have been in business in Long Beach for the last 25 years.  They now want to open a similar establishment in Willliston Park. The premises are located within 200 feet of both business and residential property.  The area has been zoned for commercial business for many years.

Holland said, “We have submitted a plan for the interior of the building.  The menu there will be the same menu for lunch and for dinner and will consist of coffee, drinks, teas and juices, crepes, salads and soups, some sweets, wine and beer.  No frying of food and the crepe machine is mainly a steam machine and there will be little, if any, odors.  Any exhaust will be toward Hillside Avenue.

“The petitioner will have two shifts a day and in each shift there will be three employees, one being one of the owners, the other being a chef and a waiter which will be hopefully from the community. The café will operate seven days per week 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11p.m. and on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

“With regard to garbage there will be minimal garbage and it will be contained in a Rubbermaid type container where they will place garbage bags.”

Mayor Ehrbar once again wanted to know if the owners would object to putting a garbage container, like the one suggested for the gelato store.   Attorney Holland said that his clients would not object to that garbage container, but not in front of their store because extensive renovation is planned to the front of the building and the garbage container would detract from the overall look of the store.  Holland added, “We will talk with the building inspector to see where it would be most appropriate.  The owners will definitely work with the village.”

Mayor Ehrbar said, “I don’t see any space behind the store to put a garbage container because it is so close to Frantoni’s Pizza Restaurant which is located at 66 Hillside Avenue.”

Holland said, “Well, if you look at the survey, there is an area in the rear of the store where there is space available.  I spoke to Williston Park Building Inspector Terry Collins.  Further, there will not be much garbage because it will primarily be cardboard and boxes and fruits and vegetables.”

Ehrbar said, “Frantoni’s keeps its garbage in the basement and brings it out for disposal.  Would your client be willing to do that?”

Stephen Guasco, one of the owners, said, “There is a rear yard in the back of the building approximately 8 to 10 feet, and we would have no problem keeping the garbage in the basement until it is to be picked up.  As far as the receptacle recommended by the mayor, we don’t generate that type of garbage.  Patrons that come to the restaurant are served on china plates and glassware and flatware and any order to go would be taken out by the patron and not eaten in the vicinity of the restaurant.”

Ehrbar said, “I am concerned about the garbage behind the store.  You may have 8 to 10 feet, but it’s very narrow there especially with Frantoni’s almost next door because they have an excessive amount of garbage.”

Ehrbar continued, “Your major time of business will be lunch and dinner?”

Guasco said, “Lunch time will probably be the busiest.  Dinner time will probably be staggered throughout the evening.”

Ehrbar added, “And, where will your patrons park?”

Guasco said, “Actually, from eating in the various restaurants and observing the location, we feel that we will have a lot of business generated from the area and they will probably walk.  Further, there is a municipal lot in that area.”

Deputy Mayor Thomann said, “That area is a very congested area and there is really no parking.  Your menu looks very nice, but the location is very challenging and very limited.”

It was established that their restaurant in Long Beach would remain open and that the restaurant would serve only wine and beer, under the license they already have.  All of the tables would be for two and the seating will accommodate 32 people.

Mayor Ehrbar wanted to know what type of clientele did they attract after 9:30 p.m. and it was established that it would mainly be for dessert and he added, “for the romantics, we dim the lights.”

A resident of Cross Street said, “There is absolutely no parking and people will be coming and going until 10 to 11 p.m. every night and it will be annoying.’’ But then it was established he was talking about the wrong store.

Another resident wanted to know why they chose Williston Park, since the competition here is so fierce.

Guasco said, “Many folks that come to our Long Beach location are from Williston Park and they urged us to come to Nassau and the first time we pulled down Hillside Avenue we thought it would be a good fit.”

Holland added, “That many years ago when TR’s and Mahoney’s first were established those owners loved each other because people would go to TR’s look across the street at Mahoney’s and the next time they would go there, so they complemented each other.”

Rita Hesse, who lives in the vicinity said, “Wow you will have TRs, Angelina’s, Willy Parkers, who are opening again, Rudy’s Deli and Frantoni’s.  The concern has always been the garbage and parking.  How many people can go into that parking lot, plus the commuters who use that lot.   All in this part of the village. So much is going on in this small area,  going toward the railroad tracks.  The parking is a really big concern.  We need the business, but I am concerned about both the garbage and the parking.  Where will the people park.  I do agree with the deputy mayor, it will be a challenge, but I do wish them lots of luck.”

Mayor Ehrbar said, “I don’t think the parking at night will be as much an issue but I think the lunch crowd will be the problem.”

The owner of 74 Hillside Avenue said that they operated a fabric store there at one time and she said parking has always been a problem.  She also commented that when she is in the neighborhood and can’t find a parking space, for instance at Rudy’s Deli, she then goes to another area, perhaps Herricks, to find a deli where she can park.

At the end of the hearing a resident wanted to know what the chances would be to build tier parking in the village and the mayor answered, with tongue in cheek, “I really want to be at that hearing!”

The board finally closed the very long hearing and reserved decision.

Regular Meeting

At the beginning of the regular meeting, as is always the custom, Mayor Paul Ehrbar read a very lengthly list of the bills to be paid.  At the completion of their reading Mayor Ehrbar then suggested that he make available to the public a print copy of the bills to avoid the time it takes to personally read each and every bill.

However, one resident in particular did not think it was a good idea because he said he liked to hear them read the warrants or bills because he said it was an “eye opener.”

It was not decided what course would be taken for the next “reading of the bills.”

Mayor Announces New Cell Phone Number

The mayor then announced that in order to stay in touch with the members of the community he has a new cell phone and the number is 941-8463.

The mayor then complimented the members of the Department of Public Works for working so fast to remove the fallen trees after the recent severe storm that blew through the village.

He also said that he and Lucille Walters, of the Chamber of Commerce of The Willistons , visited Third Precinct Inspector Kevin Canavan and he assured them he would work with them especially on Williston Day and he also assured the mayor he would do all he could to crack down on traffic enforcement in the village,

Another resident wanted to know why the tax certioraris in the village are so high.  It was explained by the village attorney James Bradley that the tax rate is derived by taking the Nassau County tax roll and deriving certain figures for the village issued by a commission in Albany and it determines the fair market value.  He said, “What happens is that generally commercial property owners file grievances with the village which usually are rejected and then the commercial property owners file a Number 7 procedure under the real property tax law to get judicial review of the commercial assessment. Generally, the way this is handled is that each year this does not amount to much money so the petitioners accumulate the number of years.”

He added, “I am not representing the village in any of these cases, but then they will collect maybe five, seven or eight years of grievances and after they have negotiated with the county and after they receive a reduction of the county assessment the attorneys for the commercial owners then convert the county assessment into what they think should be the village assessment. The way they do that is to take the county assessment and convert it into a fair market value and apply the equalization rate for the village.  What happens is that these things accumulate for reasons I cannot explain to you.  Commercial property cases, tax grievances cases and tax certiorari cases involving commercial property have accumulated for every village that has commercial property and it is indeed a major problem.  The attorneys negotiate the best deal they can which generally results in a substantial savings and those amounts are then presented to the board for approval.  I am not sure I have answered your question, but that is what is  before the board and it is a very complicated process.”

Road Work Discussion

Public Works Superintendent Keith Bunnell said that the roadwork has started and will go from Marcellus and Gilmore to Pembroke then to McCollum and on to Meadowsweet.  Then the milling (scraping the asphalt off the concrete) of Pembroke and Sheridan will take place.  On Aug. 15 the actual blacktop will take place and from the middle to the end of August and lastly will be tree replacements.

He added, “As far as the trees are concerned, we have about 12 trees that have to come down and we are about half-way through and we are working with LIPA as far as wires are concerned and hopefully that will be finished quickly.”

Mayor Ehrbar commented, “The Ackerman grant has still not come to the village, but we have indications that the money is no longer frozen and as soon as we can obtain those monies we will proceed.”

Report of Trustees
Deputy Mayor Terry Thomann

Deputy Mayor Thomann congratulated the fire department on receiving two grants.  One is for $1, 000 for the New York State DEC to subsidize supplies for the department; also a $10,000 New York State grant in conjunction with another pending grant for $100,000 will upgrade the security in the building.  She also acknowledged the Auxiliary Police who were at the July 4th parade.  Further she thanked the Department of Public Works for the quick work they accomplished in removing the downed tree during the June storm.

Pool

Thomann announced that the Williston Park pool has been in heavy use and it has gone well.  Membership is up almost 10 percent and she then thanked the Chamber of Commerce for sponsoring the swim team.  She said that at a recent pool board meeting there were a lot of suggestions and comments that were welcome to the board.

Mayor Ehrbar added that traditionally the pool has been closed on Tuesday until 2 p.m., but a decision was made to open the pool at 11 a.m. as on every other day in light of the number of days of heat.  He said they will continue that schedule for the rest of July and if there is a large enough turnout they will continue that schedule in August.

Trustee William Darmstadt

Trustee Darmstadt reported that the Neighborhood Watch meeting was well attended and he also announced that the next Night Out will be on Aug. 3.  There will be a meeting at 7 p.m. for an hour at the Gazebo then everyone will disperse and go home, sit on their porches or steps with candles in a bag and he said he hoped that will encourage neighbors to become involved with the Neighborhood Watch program.  

Little League Softball

The girl’s softball team won their first-ever district tournament.

The boys 11-under team softball had a very successful year.

Trustee Kevin Rynne

Trustee Rynne announced that the Beautification Committee is in full swing and will meet on Aug. 1 at the Hillside and here is one more island to clean out.  Anyone interested in helping should meet there at 8 a.m.

Gazebo Concert

There will be a concert by the Stack Trio on Aug. 15 at 7 p.m. at the gazebo.  In case of rain, it will be held in the meeting room upstairs at village hall, 494 Willis Avenue, Williston Park.

Trustee Barbara Alagna

Trustee Alagna announced that the Village Justice Court has received a grant from the New York State under the Village Justice Assistance Program.  The funds of $5, 958 will be used for security measures including the installation of security cameras and security alert system, an additional $500 for new software and an additional $289.  

The court report is as follows:  Honorable Kevin Kiley heard 270 cases collecting fines of $10,615 with the mandatory surcharge of $425. Honorable Beth Swendsen-Dowd heard two cases.

Department of Public Works Keith Bunnell

Since he was on vacation at the time of the storm he thanked the members of his department for all they did to remove the trees. He said, “The water tank rehab project is moving along and as soon as the summer is over we will be do a rehab of all our three wells.”

Building Inspector Kerry Collins

Inspector Collins Reports residential building permits-four, commercial building permits-one, residential plumbing permits-one, commercial plumbing permits-one, sidewalk sales-one, sidewalk apron replacement-one, Board of Appeals Applications-two, street open permits-one.  Collecting a total of $8, 725.

He went on to say that the storm in question had been confirmed as a tornado and the village was lucky to receive minimal damage.  He added, “It was great to see everyone helping everyone else in the excessive heat.”

Library Director Donna McKenna

Library Director Donna McKenna announced that there was a record turnout for the summer reading program of 200 children.

Open to the Public Comment

The mayor opened the meeting for public comment and many of the residents of York Place complained that five trees had been taken down and now there is no shade whatsoever in their yard.  They were never notified prior to the tree removal.  She said she understood that trees would be replaced but it is not the same.

Keith Bunnell said that many of the trees in question were diseased.

Residents of Marcellus also complained that eight trees were cut down on their street, again without any notice and they were not happy since at one time Williston Park had been known as “tree city.”

After many complaints, about the loss of the trees,the marathon meeting finally ended.­