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Commuters angry about pending closure of Hicksville garage

The four-level, multimillion-dollar parking facility was rebuilt in 2011 and replaced the original structure, which was demolished because of structural issues.

Long Island Rail Road commuters said Saturday, April 14, 2018, that they're upset about the pending closure of the Town of Oyster Bay parking garage in Hicksville. The garage will be closed for 90 days starting July 9 for major repairs. (Credit: Newsday / David Olson)

As Joshua Romoff stood in the Town of Oyster Bay’s parking garage in Hicksville on a recent night — near orange pylons and plastic fencing that blocked off parking spaces from concrete falling from the cracked ceiling — he said he understood why the town must temporarily close the structure this summer for repairs. But he’s still mad — really mad.

“I shouldn’t have to wake up earlier for their mess-ups,” said Romoff, 35, of Hicksville, referring to the prospect of finding other parking that will be farther from the Long Island Rail Road station, where his train from Penn Station had arrived. “It’s atrocious. This makes our town look like a joke.”

Romoff and other users of the four-level garage said they are upset they will have to find alternative parking and endure longer commutes because a garage that opened only seven years ago has major structural problems.

Starting July 9, Oyster Bay will close the 1,441-space garage near the LIRR station for 90 days for repairs that include replacing four severely cracked support slabs, installing joints to help concrete expand during weather changes without cracking, and fixing often-broken elevators. About 200 parking spaces have already been blocked off. The town board approved a $6.8 million bond for the repairs on Tuesday.

Oyster Bay is looking for alternative parking spots at places like the Broadway Commons mall, several blocks away, to use during the closure, possibly with shuttle buses ferrying commuters to the LIRR station, Supervisor Joseph Saladino said. The town used shuttles before the garage opened in 2011.

The current garage replaced a 37-year-old structure that was demolished because of structural problems. The town spent about $65 million to tear down that garage, build the new one and pay for related costs.

Marc Ornstein of Plainview is incredulous that the garage already needs a major rehabilitation.

“Look at this,” said Ornstein, 58, pointing to metal posts installed last year to help support the ceilings on the two lower, underground levels of the garage. “They spent millions of dollars of my money, of taxpayer money, to build this garage and now they’re going to spend taxpayer money again, to fix it.”

Town officials hope to recoup the costs from two contractors involved in the original construction. The town in June sued Freeport-based Peter Scalamandre & Sons Inc. and Mineola-based Sidney B. Bowne & Son LLP, alleging they failed to correct substandard work. The contractors deny the allegations, with Scalamandre & Sons saying the garage “was built according to specification” and Bowne & Son contending that there were “no departures from good and accepted engineering practices.”

Jennifer Byalick, 39, of Hicksville, said she is “dreading” the closure and the time it will add to her commute to and from Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn.

“We have such high taxes and fees for everything, but it’s obviously not going to pay for good services,” she said.

Melissa Martin, 30, of Bethpage, is irked because the garage will close a few weeks after the deadline for commuters to display a new two-year parking sticker, which costs $100, five times the previous fee.

“So we have to buy a new permit even though the garage is going to be closing?” she asked.

Holly Koenig, 59, of unincorporated Westbury, has bad memories of when a shuttle bus ran from the sprawling mall parking lot before the current garage opened.

Shuttles ended at 9 p.m., forcing late-arriving commuters to either walk or take a taxi to the mall, she said.

“The worst part of it was, you wait to get on the bus and then the driver would wait 15 minutes to leave” until the bus was at least half-full, Koenig said. “That’s a lot of time in the morning.”

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