An electronic display at the new garage in Hicksville that...

An electronic display at the new garage in Hicksville that provides the number of cars parked on each level and directs drivers to open spots is not functioning. (April 1, 2011) Credit: Howard Schnapp

Even with a steady morning rain, signs of leaking inside the Town of Oyster Bay's $35-million Hicksville parking garage were harder to find Tuesday.

Cones that blocked dozens of parking spots last week were gone, and officials said that initial caulking had plugged the wet spots they called typical of a newly built facility.

"This is common," said Steve Solomon, project manager for contractor Peter Scalamandre & Sons. "It's not even that bad."

But some commuters remain wary of any problems at the 2-week-old garage, which opened three years after its predecessor closed because of structural damage. After extended debate over where to put the 1,440-space facility, bond-funded construction began in early 2010 and took less than 14 months to complete.

"They could have used better judgment and not opened as fast," said Hal Rinder, an accountant from Plainvew who takes the Long Island Rail Road from Hicksville to Manhattan. "I'm somewhat upset the town spent $35 million on the garage and now we have water damage."

The parking structure resembles an office from the outside with just one of four levels above grade. It was designed by Mineola's Sidney B. Bowne & Son and built by Freeport's Scalamandre & Sons.

Bowne, where former town public works chief Frank Antetomaso is a partner, has won numerous Oyster Bay contracts. Scalamandre has built many large parking structures, including one at Kennedy Airport.

Antetomaso disputed commuter speculation that the leaks could hint at more serious structural deficiencies. Leaks may periodically occur early on but will be dealt with promptly, he said. "It should last a very long time," he said of the building's strength.

Not every commuter is worried. Anthony Fung, of Syosset, rushed to catch a midmorning train Tuesday, saying he wasn't even aware of the leaks. He said he's enjoying the new facility for one main reason: "It's close."

Fung -- and even Rinder -- said they'll continue to park there. But not David Stewart.

After two days using the garage, the Plainview resident said he discovered white blotches about a foot wide on the hood of his black Jeep. After two professional car washes (and one of his own), only compound rub removed the stains, he said. "It's obviously leaking. The problem is: what is it leaking?" said Stewart, 44, who works on Wall Street.

Town officials said they couldn't speculate without seeing the damage but said if something other than water had leaked, such as cement, it likely would have left marks on the garage floor. None were found, they said.

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