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Long IslandColumnistsJoye Brown

Hicksville parking garage a major problem for Oyster Bay

The Town of Oyster Bay parking facility, which

The Town of Oyster Bay parking facility, which seems to be in disrepair, goes through renovations on Monday, March 20, 2017 in Hicksville. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Oyster Bay whipped out the screw jacks last week in its latest attempt to deal with cracks, leaks, falling concrete and other issues at the town garage.

What’s a screw jack? It’s a screw-operated device for lifting or exerting pressure.

The Pilgrims used them to keep ships afloat during voyages to the New World.

“When a storm cracked one of the ship’s main beams, a Pilgrim ... placed a screw [jack] beneath it, forced it back into place and held at sea there until a post could be wedged under it,” according to one account. “After, they had enjoyed fair winds and weather ...”

Oyster Bay is using the devices for a different purpose — to shore up the town’s troubled parking garage in Hicksville.

To fix the structure, the town will have to heed lessons from its own recent history.

Before new Supervisor Joseph Saladino arrived on the job, Oyster Bay had seen its finances sink to junk-bond level.

And contracts for town concessions became the focus of a federal indictment against Saladino’s predecessor, Republican John Venditto, who stepped down after pleading not guilty to corruption-related charges.

Responding to a resident’s question about deteriorating conditions at the garage during a board meeting last week, Saladino, a Republican, said, “the responsible parties will take responsibility for” damage at the garage, which has suffered problems since it opened six years ago.

On Monday, Saladino said he was determined to end the problems.

He said he first would determine whether the garage structurally is safe, which, town officials say is the case. Those new lines of red screw jacks, he said, will keep cracks from growing, he said.

Also, Oyster Bay is hiring contractors to evaluate the garage and produce a report that will identify fixes.

“I will get to the bottom of this,” Saladino said.

Still, why didn’t the town aggressively address issues with the garage earlier?

Back then, Oyster Bay officials, the contractor and Frank Antetomaso, a partner with Sidney B. Bowne & Son LLP, the Mineola-based firm that designed the garage, said publicly that leaks would be fixed.

Still, leaks remain.

Antetomaso is a former town public works commissioner, who left office in 1989. Last month, sources told Newsday that the Nassau District Attorney’s Office, as part of a corruption probe, had tapped cellphones belonging to Antetomaso, Venditto and former town planning and development Commissioner Frederick Ippolito.

None have been charged with any crime.

Antetomaso did not return calls from a Newsday reporter last week about the garage.

Saladino, several times, said he intended to handle the garage and a host of other pressing town issues in a different way that Oyster Bay residents may have come to expect of their leaders.

Open and transparent, rather than closed.

No doubt sailing toward November’s elections, screw jacks and all, with a Pilgrim’s hope of “fair winds and weather ... ”

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