Only six years after the Town of Oyster Bay’s Hicksville Long Island Rail Road parking garage opened, ceilings are cracked, concrete sometimes falls onto cars below, elevators are often out of service and stairways are marred by trails of rust stains and peeling paint.
On Saturday, workers began installing metal posts called screw jacks to help support the ceilings on the two lower, underground levels of the four-floor, $35 million garage, which has 1,440 spaces.
“It is beyond comprehension how terrible this garage is,” said LIRR commuter Bruce Lederman, 56, of Jericho, who said he found a piece of concrete on the ground near his parked car last week.
Town Public Works Commissioner Richard Lenz said officials are determining the root of the problems and examining possible solutions. He said a consultant recently examined the garage and determined it to be structurally sound.
The support system is to prevent further expanding and contracting of concrete that is causing the cracks, he said.
Town spokeswoman Marta Kane said the town has reimbursed a number of commuters for damage to their cars caused by garage material denting or staining their vehicles.
Najam Uddin, 39, said a garage this new should not have long cracks in the ceilings.
“This is either a design flaw or a materials flaw,” Uddin, an electrical engineer with structural engineering training who works in Manhattan, said Monday night as he returned to his car from the train station and peered up at the cracks. Expanding and contracting of material is normal and garages should be built to sustain it, the Hicksville resident said.
The garage replaced a 37-year-old parking structure that was closed in 2008 after workers found cracks in concrete-and-steel T-beams. The town spent about $65 million to demolish the old garage, build the new one, and pay for related costs.
The current garage has had problems since it opened. Within the first several days, water began leaking. At the time, town officials, Freeport-based general contractor Peter Scalamandre and Sons Inc., and Frank Antetomaso, a partner of the Mineola-based firm that designed the garage, Sidney B. Bowne & Son LLP, told Newsday the leaks would not continue. Antetomaso is a former town public works commissioner.
Scalamandre said in a statement Tuesday: “The Garage was completed in accordance with the design plans and specifications.”
Antetomaso did not return phone calls for comment.
Lederman, a Manhattan attorney and co-chair of the New York County Lawyers’ Association Committee on Construction Law, questioned why problems such as water leaks, falling material and broken elevators have been allowed to continue.
Once early leaks appeared in 2011, the town should have ensured that the contractor, not taxpayers, would pay for repairs if the leaking continued long-term, he said.
In the statement, Scalamandre said that the garage had a now-expired one-year warranty.
Lenz said the town has paid for all post-construction work. This year, the town is paying about $150,000 for a structural analysis of the garage, tests of the concrete, installation of the screw jacks and the design for whatever repairs are needed, he said.
Lenz said that shortly after becoming public works commissioner on Feb. 20, he brought in the consultant to examine the garage and recommend what repairs are needed. The town had begun looking into the problems before his appointment, he said. The screw jacks will stay in place until repairs are done this summer, Lenz said.
Kane said the screw jacks are taking away about 78 spaces in the garage. Town officials are discussing ways to add more slots, such as sandwiching more spaces into the garage and removing parking-time restrictions for nearby town-owned spaces, she said.