I went to the Nassau County Health and Human Services building at 60 Charles Lindbergh Blvd. in Uniondale to obtain a handicap parking permit. Some parking spaces for disabled people are located near the building, but if those are full, you must drive to another parking lot, on the other side of a chain-link fence, and wind up with a long walk to the entrance. How does this accommodate people who are handicapped?
Eugene Marksteiner, Levittown
Thanks to Mr. Marksteiner, a veteran of the Korean War, we can report effort on two fronts to assist residents who need a disabled parking permit -- or a place to park once they have the permit.
In the first category: Applying for a permit can be done by mail, says Matthew Dwyer, director of the county's Office for the Physically Challenged, which is in the Health and Human Services Building. Once an application is received, he said, it takes about a day and a half to process a permit.
If residents prefer to apply in person, they don't have to enter the building, Dwyer said. Instead, they can remain in their cars and call the office from the parking lot, where a staff member will meet them for what Dwyer characterized as "roadside service."
"We'll do everything possible to make sure that their trip is not a difficult one," he said.
The office number is 516-227-7399. An application for a parking permit can be printed from the county's website, http://www.nassaucountyny.gov/agencies/OPC/index.html.
As for the location of handicap parking spaces: BMS Realty Services, the company that manages the property (which Nassau leases), has been talking with the county about rearranging the parking layout, BMS' Larry McCulley said.
"I talked to the county about what could be done if we want to improve it a bit," McCulley said. "We'll work together to try to resolve this."
Under discussion is the addition of 10 disabled spaces to the north side of the building, he said, all designated for county employees. That would free up the 16 disabled spaces near the visitor entrance on the south side of the building.
Fourteen more are in the lot where Mr. Marksteiner parked, about a quarter-mile from the visitors entrance.
The re-striping would be part of an upcoming parking lot resurfacing project, he said. Stay tuned.
The fence that runs along the Long Island Rail Road tracks in a section of Oakdale has seen better days. It's in disrepair and pocked with graffiti, and residents have tried without luck to get it removed.
They called on the Town of Islip, which responded: Not our land.
They called on the LIRR and were told: Not our fence.
The fence is on the north side of Biltmore Avenue, the only road into the neighborhood, which leaves no options for residents leaving or returning home: Each trip takes them past the fence.
"I've got to look at this eyesore every single day," said one resident, Joe Bulis, who brought the matter to Watchdog's attention.
Bulis said he had contacted the town two years ago to try to get the remains of the fence removed; he had seen town crews trimming shrubbery along the road nearby, he said, so it seemed reasonable that the fence would fall within the town's jurisdiction.
But he learned that a disappearing act would not be easy. The town told him officials would consult with the LIRR. The result?
"I'm caught between two agencies and don't know what to do," Bulis said.
So we followed his steps. The town restated that the fence is not on town property.
Next stop, the LIRR, which said yes, the fence is on LIRR property. But no, it's not an LIRR fence.
"The Biltmore Avenue site in Oakdale was inspected by personnel from the MTA Long Island Rail Road's System Safety and Engineering Departments, who determined that the existing stockade fencing was not installed by, and does not belong to, the railroad," LIRR spokesman Salvatore Arena said in an email.
Moreover, he said, "the LIRR does not use stockade fencing to secure its right of way" and instead uses "heavy-gauge steel, high-security fencing that stands eight feet high, for locations where safety and security warrant."
Despite the seeming standstill, Arena said the LIRR "remains open to further discussion" and has been in contact with local officials, including Islip Supervisor Tom Croce's office. A few days later a town spokeswoman called Watchdog to report that, at Croce's behest, the town had removed some sections of fencing.
"We took down three sections" of fence, Public Works Commissioner Thomas Owens said last week, but left some in place because removing all sections, and the vegetation surrounding them, would bring passing trains into full view -- a move that he feared neighbors would find more objectionable.
So a disappearing act is possible. Residents, the next move is yours.