Friday, April 5, 2013

LIRR Forum at the Wantagh Library 4.4.2013

LIRR FORUM at Wantagh Library, 4.4.2013
This report may contain errors. 
The meeting lasted from 7:38 p.m. to about 8:55 p.m.
ü Nassau county Legislator David Denenberg hosted Bob Brennan, Director, Government and Community Relations, LIRR, and Patrick Gerakaris, Branch Line Manager of some 38 south shore stations in Nassau County.  The email for the Branch Line Manager is  As usual, both LIRR employees answered questions well.  Many thanks!
ü Legislator Denenberg pointed out the need for an appointment to the Long Island seat on the MTA Board.  Please note that this is a more important position that a seat on the Long Island Rail Road Commuter Council.  Mr. Denenberg's quest is seen in this Merrick Patch article dated 4.4.2013.
ü As people drifted in and out, the highest attendance was about 20, including officials, aides, and reporters.
ü Mr. Denenberg reviewed the issues of escalator and elevator repairs and parking lot problems, particularly in Merrick where an auto body shop repeatedly uses commuter spaces.  He objected to Metro North's intentions to route trains from Co-op City over the Hell Gate Bridge and into the four-track East River tunnel after some LIRR trains are diverted to the 63rd St. tunnel.
ü From 7:55 to 8:05 Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy spoke of conditions at that station: elevator and escalator maintenance, safety, and cleanliness.  He said that the new energy-saving lights on the platform were too dim.  He said that video cameras should provide staffed surveillance at some desk.
ü Several times during the presentation and discussions, the lack of an elevator at Wantagh was noted.  A year ago, it was reported that the five-year MTA budget plan had not yet been released by Albany.  At this year, we heard from Mr. Brennan a statement that the Wantagh elevator was now in the five-year budget.  However, as an observer of the way government budgets go, I would not be certain of the money actually flowing to construction of an elevator at Wantagh.  Too often, under fiscal pressure, items are deleted from a budget or postponed.  I heard nothing specific of any money for the necessary reconstruction of the platform slabs.  According to Mr. Gerakaris, the slabs at Seaford were replaced first because they were in worse shape than Wantagh.
ü When the meeting was opened to questions from the audience, much time was expended on Bellmore and the new Town of Hempstead Parking stickers. A parent of Bellmore riders complained that more permits seem to have been issued than the number of parking places reserved for Bellmore residents.  The same person demanded that spots nearer the station be reserved for people arriving there later in the morning.  The same person complained that Seaford and Wantagh Town of Hempstead residents could purchase the same stickers.
ü An owner of a Wantagh business complained that there was insufficient parking for employees of the stores there.  The non-permit parking has a time limit of only few hours.  This person noted that a summertime bus stop takes up parking spaces on Railroad Avenue adjacent to the Wantagh Triangle.  I note that the Bus Stop and a similar one on Park Avenue near Beech Street have not had bus service in more than thirty years.  They are a holdover from long-discontinued service, predating MSBA.
ü Many of the Bellmore and Wantagh parking complaints were not issues for the railroad, as the Town of Hempstead controls most of the lots.  I heard no complaints about Seaford.
ü Someone observed that parking districts existed for tax purposes.  However, I reviewed our Town of Hempstead detailed tax bill and could not find a parking district tax.

ü Legislator Denenberg left the meeting about 8:20.  Claudia Boretsky, noting no more questions, closed the meeting about 8:55.
Chris Boyle's excellent, detailed report of this meeting may be read at Wantagh Patch, linked here.
A web page listing the working status of all LIRR elevators and escalators is linked here.  I am rather certain that the same list is now displayed on a new "smart" panel in Penn Station between the LIRR waiting room and the ticket booths.  A few such internet-connected panels have been installed around the LIRR concourse level.  I think I have seen one displaying the status of subway routes and another for the LIRR branches.

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