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Bus passengers in East Farmingdale want a shelter

People board the NICE bus at the bus

People board the NICE bus at the bus stop at the corner of Route 110 and Conklin St. in Wast Farmingdale, Monday, Nov. 24, 2014. Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

A bus stop on Conklin Street in East Farmingdale had been "deplorable for many years," Arlene Healy told us. What's missing is something to shelter waiting passengers, many of them day laborers, from bitter cold or otherwise lousy weather.

We weren't Healy's first choice. By the time she contacted us in October, she had already called Suffolk County, Babylon Town, Nassau County and NICE, which runs Nassau's bus system. Each passed her off to one of the others.

"Especially now with the winter coming on, it's ridiculous that nobody wants to take responsibility for the community" of people who rely on public transportation, said Healy, who lives in the East Farmingdale.

We started by contacting some of the same offices Healy had. Several calls and emails later, the answer came: Babylon Town has jurisdiction for the bus stop and is taking steps to determine if a shelter can be installed.

It's not a simple task.

The town itself doesn't install shelters and instead has a contract with a company, Signal Outdoor Advertising LLC, that constructs and maintains the structures, according to town spokesman Kevin Bonner. The company and the town determine where shelters will be located, he said, and the company is permitted to sell advertising on the sides. The town gets a share of the revenue.

The town's Planning Department is asking the company "to examine constructing a bus shelter at the location," Bonner wrote in an email. Once the company completes that step, "we plan to discuss this location early next year with NYS Senator-elect Michael Venditto, who will represent this area, to secure the necessary NYS approvals to proceed."

We had already heard from Nassau County Transportation Planner Lowell F. Wolf that, regardless of who has jurisdiction for the site, state approval would be necessary because Conklin Street is a state road.

Wolf, one of the officials we spoke with in the search for bus stop jurisdiction, said state approval may hinge on clearing a logistical hurdle: The sidewalk along Conklin isn't wide enough for a bus shelter to meet requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act, so permission from adjacent property owners would be necessary before the sidewalk could be extended.

Healy pointed out that the bus stop is just across Route 110 from Airport Plaza shopping center. "They want people to work there," she said, but potential workers could find the bus stop discouraging because "they have no decent place to wait for a bus."

Another Farmingdale resident, Frank Trifaro, also had contacted us about the need to shelter waiting passengers.

"They stand out in the open. There should be some kind of shelter," he said. "They're paying fares just like everyone else . . .

"Somebody should be concerned for the people who have to take the bus. It's just the right thing."

 

My husband and I go hiking at West Hills County Park in the Town of Huntington. Sometimes, instead of using the main entrance on Sweet Hollow Road, we use the back entrance on Reservoir Road. But it's so horrible and the holes so deep that cars have to go up on the grass to get into the park. It is a mess and dangerous. -- Joan Landers, Old Westbury

Landers' preference for the Reservoir Road entrance is easy to understand: That location provides a shorter hike to Jayne's Hill, the tallest point on Long Island at about 400 feet.

But the cratered entryway, an extension of Reservoir Road, is hardly welcoming.

As for who's in charge of that unkempt pavement, it was not immediately clear: Reservoir Road is maintained by Huntington Town, but West Hills is a Suffolk County park. Town spokesman A.J. Carter told us the road had been paved within the past five years but the work did not extend into the park entryway.

"Anything inside the gate is county responsibility," he said.

We put the question to the county in the summer and received a response in mid-November: The gate-enclosed portion of Reservoir Road is scheduled to be fixed in the new year.

"The county will make refurbishments to the roadway within the next year to improve conditions," county spokeswoman Vanessa Baird-Streeter said in an emailed statement. She pointed out that the Reservoir Road entry is rarely used.

On the summer evening we met Landers and her husband, Stanley, at the park, few cars used the back entrance. Landers said it's more popular on weekends with nice weather.

-- MICHAEL R. EBERT

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