Village, cab company clash over taxi spaces in Lynbrook
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A disagreement over the rights to five parking spaces at the Lynbrook Long Island Rail Road station has intensified into a legal battle between the village and a taxicab service that has worked the station for 50 years.
All Island Taxi lost a bid to retain its spaces to Village Car Service last year.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which has struggled with deficits in recent years, decided to put the spaces -- and other properties it owns at LIRR stations around Long Island -- up for bid in an attempt to generate more revenue. Village Car's bid of $17,605 per year was more than triple All Island's offer of $4,750.
But All Island contends Village Car unfairly took over the spaces after Lynbrook officials failed to properly issue Village Car a required license -- a charge village officials and Village Car deny.
David O'Neill, co-owner of Village Car -- which took the spaces over on March 1 -- said the lawsuit is sour grapes.
"The only thing we did wrong was, we outbid them," said O'Neill, who launched the company with a partner in 2011.
But Michael Zapson, All Island's Garden City-based attorney, said Lynbrook's village board never authorized the required license Village Car needed to take the spaces. The board allowed village clerk John Giordano to make the decision, which is a violation of village codes, Zapson said.
"We are the only ones who are entitled by village code to operate a taxicab at the railroad station," Zapson said.
Judge Roy Mahon was scheduled to receive final court papers from both sides yesterday, and is expected to make a ruling in the coming weeks.
The MTA's decision to offer station properties for public bidding has sparked other disputes over space, including in Hicksville, where Sunset Taxi has sued the MTA and the town of Oyster Bay. Philip Fortuna, who owns Sunset Taxi, has said changes in allocating taxi parking spaces in Hicksville violated terms of a 48-year-old lease.
The Lynbrook case is complicated by the fact that All Island still leases an office at the station from the MTA, said Peter Ledwith, Lynbrook's village attorney. That leaves the company with office space but nowhere to park its cabs, he said.
However, the company's claim that it deserves the spaces back is "totally wrong," Ledwith said, because Village Car's license is legitimate.
An MTA spokesman confirmed that Village Car was awarded the lease for the five spaces, but did not offer a comment on the lawsuit.
All Island's lawsuit states that its inability to park cabs at the train station will cause "confusion and disruption for people arriving in Lynbrook" via train, and that it will "adversely impact the business reputation" of the company, which has operated in the area for 50 years.
But Adam Glassman, Village Car's attorney, said the spaces are in the right hands.
"It's very clear that my client is in full compliance with the Lynbrook village code," he said.