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Members of the West Hempstead Civic Association have, for such a long time, lobbied to have the controversial Courtesy Hotel closed. After the Town of Hempstead agreed to rezone the property to allow for the Alexan, an upscale apartment complex being built near the West Hempstead train station by developer Trammell Crow Residential, it appeared it would be smooth sailing. However, some believe the MTA's decision to possibly cut service from the station will jeopardize the marketability of the apartment complex.

The proposed Alexan apartment complex that will be built near the West Hempstead train station.

At a recent hearing held by the MTA on possible service cuts and fare increases to close a budget gap, West Hempstead Civic Association President Rosalie Norton urged the MTA board not to eliminate weekend service on the West Hempstead branch of the LIRR.

"Eliminating weekend service will negatively impact our residents and severely affect businesses situated near the train stations. In these difficult economic times, eliminating weekend services will create hardships for both workers and customers. Entirely eliminating all trains on the weekend is unrealistic and ignores the needs of the public," Norton said.

The MTA was actually the agency that made the Alexan a reality. With the town board refusing to allow Trammell Crow to build the amount of rental apartment units the developer desired on the Courtesy Hotel property, it appeared the hotel would remain open. However, the MTA donated a one-acre easement parcel of land to the town, which the town used to offset the density of the Trammell Crow project.

Norton pointed out that the MTA applauds "Transit-Oriented Development" and the Alexan is the best example of Transit-Oriented Development. Eliminating weekend service from the West Hempstead train station would hurt the development.

"Our community has worked hard for many years to have the property adjacent to this station redeveloped," Norton said. "Eliminating weekend service at this time sends the wrong signal to the builder, to the community and to the Town of Hempstead. Continuing weekend service is crucial to the success of this development."

The MTA's possible service reductions also include eliminating service to Belmont Park. "Eliminating all service to Belmont, with the exception of the Belmont Stakes, is counterproductive and harmful to efforts by state and local officials to make Belmont a world class destination," said Senator Craig Johnson during his testimony before the MTA Board.


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