Judy Cartwright writes the Community Watchdog column
Out-of-service elevators can be more than an inconvenience.
In late February Dennis Doyle told us the elevators he relies on at the Huntington train station hadn't worked in two weeks. The station has two elevators, one on each side of the tracks, to provide service from the platform to multilevel parking garages as well as to the elevated walkway over the tracks.
When elevators are out of service, "there's an issue with accessing the overpass because I never know which side the train is going to come in on," Doyle said of nights the train arrives on Track A when his car is parked on the Track B side. He resorted to hailing a taxi to take him and a disabled passenger to the other side of the tracks.StoryWatchdog: Broken LIRR elevators a problemSee alsoMore Community Watchdog
When the outage persisted, he called the Long Island Rail Road. "They said they don't service the elevators, they only service the tracks," Doyle, of East Northport, said. "I called Town Hall, the Public Safety office, where a lady told me that they had ordered parts and were waiting for them to come in.
"Then I was connected to another department, where a gentleman said it's not broken, we turned it off because of the cold."
Which left Doyle, who has two hip replacements and other health issues, in the cold as well as in the dark. "I told them there's no way of telling when you leave Penn Station which side of the tracks you're going to come in on," he said.
Town Hall told us that the extended bout of cold weather was to blame. "We took both elevators down because of the extreme cold," spokesman A.J. Carter said.
The cold thickened the fluids in the hydraulic mechanism "making it difficult for the car to move" in response to the call button, Carter said.
One elevator was back in working order by the evening of the day Doyle notified us, which corresponded to the end of that single-digit temperature spell. Carter said it was returned to service that afternoon when a town department head checked and found it operational. The second needed a repair that was completed the next week.
The town is researching the use of heating devices to protect the equipment, Carter said, and anticipates they should be in place by next winter.
In 2011, Antoinette Glacken urged Nassau County to exempt senior citizens from the fee required for a home alarm system. Seniors, she said, are already "financially choked."
County Executive Edward Mangano, a Republican, directed the county's Hardship Review Board to consider doing exactly that and called Glacken's proposal "a good suggestion."
Though it may have been good, it faltered. More than two years passed before a formal proposal was initialed by the county executive's office, in December 2013 and sent to the legislature the next month. The proposal would permit the county's police department to "arrange relief from payment of such fees and penalties."
Another year passed with no action.
In January, we contacted the office of the legislature's presiding officer, Norma L. Gonsalves (R-East Meadow), where spokesman Matt Fernandez said the measure had been held up because of "concerns over the subjectivity of what constitutes a hardship. . . . It wasn't well defined in the law regarding if a hardship exists." The concerns were passed along to the administration, he said, and "that was the last that was heard."
We asked Mangano's office about the measure and received a response from Nassau Police Insp. Kenneth Lack: "The commissioner of police is available to address concerns at the legislative meeting. No further amendments are necessary."
When told of those remarks, Fernandez said, "There's been no change in our position. We still feel there are flaws in the legislation. The concerns that we had need to be addressed."
In the interim, Glacken received another notice that her alarm system had sent a false signal -- "You are operating this alarm without a permit," it said -- and was told to pay a $150 fine and a $100 permit fee or risk that police will not respond to alarms.
Glacken, who moved from the South Bronx to Uniondale in 1960 with her husband and children, said she spent years working at the Colony Diner in East Meadow "from 9 at night to 6 in morning, then came home and got the kids ready for school."
She considers the alarm fee "very unfair for senior citizens who want to protect their homes. I'm sorry, I'm on fixed income. I cannot afford these fees. If you could help me, I'd appreciate it. I hate to get rid of my alarm system with everything going on today."
Her good suggestion, at least for now, appears to have fallen victim to a standoff.