NUMC neighbors seek fix for parking problem

The Nassau University Medical Center is located at The Nassau University Medical Center is located at 2201 Hempstead Turnpike. (March 12, 2012) Photo Credit: Nicole Bartoline

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Yvonne Amato says her East Meadow neighborhood is beset with the cars of Nassau University Medical Center employees and patients, but she acknowledges the cars' owners have the right to park -- for now -- on the public streets surrounding the hospital.

Amato and dozens of her neighbors, irked by what they call a crippling parking dilemma, say they've found the solution to the problem -- permits that would restrict the streets to residents only.

State and local officials warn that a move toward resident-restricted parking -- a solution used to curb parking woes in communities ranging from Weehawken, N.J., to Boston -- would be met with resistance in Albany, and would take at least a year to implement.

But Amato says the permits are necessary to reclaim neighborhood spots, which became harder to come by last June, when NUMC closed a parking garage after it was declared unsafe.

"When they closed the garage, they started parking on the street. Who is going to buy a house if people are using the neighborhood as a parking lot?" Amato said. She and other residents also blame patients and families ducking NUMC parking fees.

Resident Ken Lane cited safety. "People cross one of the most dangerous roads in Nassau County instead of parking in the lot," he said, referring to Hempstead Turnpike.

Amato said the permits could be used to regulate parking on First and Second streets, Franklin and Roosevelt avenues, Jefferson Street and Lincoln Avenue, all of which are south of Hempstead Turnpike, a few blocks from the hospital. She said she has collected 71 signatures -- out of 125 homes on those streets -- asking for permit parking.

The parking permit plan would need to be approved by the State Legislature, said Sen. Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City), who represents the area. He said he is willing to work with the residents on the plan, but added that it could be a hard sell.

"Whenever it's proposed at the state, there's always a considerable amount of reluctance," Hannon said.

NUMC officials, who have met several times with the community, say they are encouraging employees to park on campus. Surface lots on campus will be dedicated for employees, said Arthur Gianelli, president of the NuHealth System, which includes NUMC.

Gianelli and Amato's group disagree on the number of NUMC workers who park on residential streets on a given day. He says it's 35, but Amato says it's more like 50.

The hospital employs about 3,500 people, who work three different shifts, and has about 1,700 spaces, Gianelli said.

"Our obligation is for us to have enough spaces for employees to park," he said.

Nassau police also said they are stepping up enforcement in response to residents who complain of blocked driveways and garbage, including medical debris, left in streets. Police said they wrote 488 traffic tickets in the area south of the hospital between Jan. 1 and May 1.

Police also targeted the area north of Hempstead Turnpike near the hospital, and about 350 tickets were written there in the same time period, police said.

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