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Neighbors get caught in the crush of U.S. Open crowds

The U.S. Open is coming back to Bethpage State Park after seven years, and the golf course's neighbors are prepared with lessons learned from 2002.

Jadene Dizeo, whose Farmingdale home on the corner of Quaker and Puritan lanes is a quick walk from an entrance to the course, learned that her street is a prime parking area.

In 2002, residents were given stickers to put on car bumpers to allow them to park in their neighborhood. "You got up in the morning and your little sticker was peeled off," Dizeo remembered. Meanwhile, vehicles with plates from Idaho and Michigan had stickers. The stickers even ended up for sale on eBay, she said.

This time, Puritan Lane will be closed, she said, and instead of stickers, residents have tags that hang from inside the vehicle's rearview mirror.

Walter Kierych learned his Farmingdale home on Thomas Powell Boulevard is also desirable for parking, so he charged $25 per car to park in his driveway. He said he got the idea the Friday before the Open when a television news crew asked if it could park in his driveway.

His wife Carol wouldn't let him keep the money, so he donated it to the American Cancer Society.

"He had just become retired and it gave him something to do," Carol Kierych said. Her husband said he's not sure he'll do it again this year: "It depends on how I feel."

The couple is bracing to help lost spectators locate their cars late at night again. "People forgot where they parked their cars," Carol said. "These poor people were just wandering around." So the Kieryches drove strangers around the neighborhood asking, "Is this the street?"

They're also expecting the random knocks on the door asking, "Could I use your phone? Could I use your bathroom?"

Dizeo and the Kieryches don't mind the hoopla and will put up with the traffic and road closures.

"It's nice to put Farmingdale on the map," Carol Kierych said, adding that they enjoy watching the Open on TV and hearing the cheers in stereo through their windows.

"It's a nice event," Dizeo said. "People are quiet and respectful. They don't throw garbage. It's not rowdy."

On the Bethpage side of the park, Steve Marino, who moved to Carol Drive the November after the 2002 Open, said he's not sure what to expect.

"I've heard all kinds of rumors about parking, all kinds of money offered for house rentals," he said, adding that he heard that some were willing to pay $10,000 to rent out homes near the park. "But no one's come knocking."

He's also confused about the entrepreneurial opportunities for his driveway. "Do I have to take their keys?" he asked with a laugh. "Do I work on tips? Should my kids come out to help?"

Marino said he's not worried about disruptions beyond road closures: "It's golf. How crazy is the crowd going to be?"

Nearby on Stymus Avenue in Bethpage, Gerald Bree heard about neighbors who plan to rent out their driveways. It got him thinking.

"For a fee, I'd allow them to park in my driveway. I'd even drive them over," he said, adding that it's about a mile to the course entrance. "But I don't have a sign."

Bree said he'd love to leave town for the week, but has two grandchildren to baby-sit. "We did it last time, so we'll go through it again."


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