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From the desk of NY State Senator Jack Martins: February 21, 2012

Next Stop: Congestion and Fare Hikes

All aboard! A bad idea is about to leave the station.

I won’t be getting on, but I’ll tell you about it in case you missed the news this past week. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is now considering a proposal that will allow Metro-North railroad to operate trains into Penn Station using the existing tracks.

I can already hear the gnashing of teeth and the pulling of hair as I write this but some of you may wonder what the harm is. To answer that, neighbors may suggest making their commute on an average business day. Wake up before dawn, wait on a freezing platform for a Long Island Rail Road train on which you will likely stand elbow to elbow with fellow commuters the entire way, due to over-crowding. Once you arrive, you must launch yourself out of the train and be swept along with the wave of people rushing up woefully undersized staircases, being sure to avoid perpetually out-of-order escalators.

Now, here’s the best part – you get to come back about 5:45 in the afternoon and do it all again, navigating the absolute crush of weary commuters who just want to get home. That’s the best-case scenario on a day with no major delays due to snow, rain, ice storms, electrical problems or signal delays. If any of those conditions exist, expect cancelled and re-routed trains and excruciating wait times with little or no information.

 The facts are simple. It’s already an overcrowded and difficult commute precisely because the 21 existing tracks at Penn Station must somehow be shared by all the traffic of the LIRR, Amtrak, and New Jersey Transit. Constructed in the 1960’s, after we made the tragic mistake of razing the old Penn Station, the current hub is simply not large enough to efficiently handle that sort of usage and volume. It makes absolutely no sense to add new trains and thousands more commuters to the mix, which in the end, will only add to the chaos. In fact, given the physical constraints, it seems likely that to make room for Metro-North, other lines will have to cut the number of trains running into and out of Penn.

That’s bad for the railroad and bad for its customers. The LIRR accounts for nearly 75 percent of the station’s weekday train traffic. It actually moves more people than Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark airports combined. Yet even with those staggering numbers, the railroad is only allotted seven of the 21 tracks! What would the commute look like for Long Islanders if access was further diminished? What would it look like if delays were even more common?

To make matters worse, the LIRR is predicting a significant increase in ridership the next several years. In 2007, it set a record with more than 86 million riders. While the East Side Access project to Grand Central is lumbering forward, it was approved to ease congestion at Penn Station and is being built to provide additional tracks at Grand Central for LIRR commuters, while not taking tracks away from Metro North riders. Realistically, the project is years from becoming a reality, and even upon completion, the LIRR would need to operate at existing Penn Station levels just to keep up with projected increases in ridership.

To give Metro North this access and to build the six new stations it wants, the MTA pegs the bill at about $1.2 billion. Did we miss something? We are constantly assailed by their ominous warnings of gigantic budgetary shortfalls. How then, can it struggle to find billions more for current mega projects while it simultaneously plans for billions in expenditures elsewhere? Something’s got to give. I know I am not alone in thinking that this will mean more outrageous fare hikes for commuters.

I have great respect and hope for new MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota. As former Deputy Mayor to Rudy Giuliani, he proved himself a pragmatic and skilled administrator. That’s why seven other Long Island senators and I have appealed to his practicality via a public letter, asking him to abandon this poorly conceived plan. It seems it would be far more sensible for the MTA to hunker down, reform its finances, and work on completing the monumental projects it has already started. Whatever your opinion, I urge you to please make your voices heard.

News

Night On The Town has been a fixture in Mineola, honoring community pillars and charities with a evening of great food and fun. This year, event reps have a new goal in mind for the May 7 event at Jericho Terrace: 1,000 attendees and $100,000 raised for the

Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the night’s yearly beneficiary. The event raised $72,500 last year.

 

“If you want to buy a ticket or write a check, you don’t make it out to no one else other than the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society,” said event coordinator and Piccola Bussola owner Tony Lubrano. “All of the money goes straight to them.”

 

Lubrano’s family has been personally touched by leukemia, specifically his late father, Pasquale. The 2012 extravaganza marked the first recipient of the Pasquale Lubrano Community Service Award to the event’s honoree, former state Senator Michael Balboni.

After two terms on the Mineola School Board and six years of service to the district, trustee William Hornberger will not seek re-election in May, he confirmed last week. 

“After six years of volunteering, I believe the district is on solid ground financially and moving in the right direction educationally,” he said. “I think it’s time for other members of the community to bring their ideas and vision to the board of education. It’s time to move onto the next chapter.”

 

Hornberger was first elected to the board in 2008 and re-elected in 2011, serving as board president and vice president in that span. The Williston Park resident oversaw the reconfiguration of the district which included the closing of the Cross Street and Willis

Avenue schools, one of the more challenging times in the district’s history. Those two schools have since been leased out to Solomon Schechter Day School and Harbor Child Care, respectively.


Sports

Mineola FC Clips Red Wings

Brian Heckelman and Peter Murphy’s defending held the Smithtown Red Wings in check the entire game as the BU10 Mineola FC team advanced to the Long Island Cup quarterfinal round with a 2-0 victory on Saturday, April 12. Liam Russelman scored first for

Mineola, taking a ball from the left sideline and cutting in along the top of the Smithtown box, where he launched a shot into the left corner of the RedWings goal.

 

The 1-0 lead lasted for most of the game, until Liam Going sidestepped three Red Wings defenders, drove to the net and slid a hard shot into the back of the net. Mineola improved to 4-0 in all competitions with the win.

Jimmy Regan was a perfect man in that he put others before himself and made sacrifices—both for his country and in ultimately his life as an Army Ranger. Chaminade High School lacrosse star Jack Brennan, who grew up knowing Regan and who now plays for his alma mater, would be the first to admit that he is not a perfect man, but did put on a perfect performance this past Saturday night on the lacrosse field, scoring a hat trick in a 10-5 win against the Manhasset Indians and giving the Flyers the overall edge 4-3 in the annual charity game held in Regan’s name.

 

“I didn’t really do much, it was just a lot of feeds on the crease and I just finished and I got lucky,” Brennan said of his on-field performance, especially considering the significant amount of playing time as a junior on the team.


Calendar

Cabaret Night - April 25

Buffet Dinner - April 25

Baseball Fundraiser - April 29 


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com