Mineola Village officials took additional steps Friday to prevent the return of a homeless man who had been camping out on a couch under an overpass near the Long Island Rail Road station.
The village's public works department powerwashed a strip of asphalt on Station Plaza Road under the Mineola Boulevard overpass. Afterward, workers erected a fence to close off the area and deter vagrants. Village officials removed the couch Thursday and said the incident was the latest instance of the man being a public nuisance.
Mayor Scott Strauss said Friday that the village wanted to keep that area clear for now and that the fence was temporary. He said the homeless man was present when workers set up the fence.
The homeless man, who does not want to be identified, became combative toward workers while they were trying to place a "No Trespassing" sign on the fence, Strauss said.
"Our guys, not wanting to get hurt, left," Strauss said.
The sign was eventually placed.
Strauss said he had contacted Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and Legis. Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) about providing assistance to permanently relocate the man.
Strauss said the homeless man had lingered at the train station in part because well-intentioned residents and commuters had given him money and food in recent months. The goal is to find him a permanent residence, the mayor said, but "the well-meaning people we have in our village are making this situation worse."
The fence drew mixed reactions Friday from some Mineola residents.
Laura Xanthus said the fence wouldn't solve the area's homeless problem. Homeless people will now likely migrate to the Nassau Inter-County Express bus terminal near Third Avenue, she said.
"The fence doesn't bother me too much," Xanthus said. "My question is: Where are they [the homeless] going to go now?"
Xanthus said she understood that having homeless people at the LIRR station was "not aesthetically pleasing to people in Mineola," but added the most humane thing to do was to leave them alone unless they commit a crime.
Jessica Johnson says she drives past the fenced area during her frequent downtown shopping trips. She said that she supported the removal of the couch and that there should be a barrier blocking people from camping out in the space.
“It needed washing because of the complaints of the stench of urine and alcohol,” Johnson said. “I also think the village reacted promptly to the complaints, so it was a great effort.”
Johnson agreed with Xanthus that the homeless would likely relocate to a different spot in the village.
“The fence is a temporary move to a much bigger, permanent issue in Mineola,” she said.
Correction: Mineola Mayor Scott Strauss contacted Legis. Richard Nicolello about providing assistance to permanently relocate a homeless man. An earlier version of this story named the wrong legislator.