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U.S. Open fans urged to explore Farmingdale's downtown

Leave the car at home. Parking is limited. Oh, and since you're already in Farmingdale, might as well spend your money in its quaint downtown. At a news conference Thursday at the Long Island Rail Road concourse at Penn Station, officials from Nassau County, the Village of Farmingdale, the United States Golf Association and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority rolled out that two-pronged mantra in preparation for the expected 45,000 fans descending on the Bethpage Black course for the 2009 U.S Open Championship beginning Monday. Officials found the use of mass transit to be a success when the U.S. Open was last held at Bethpage in 2002 and they have ramped up service. But local businesspeople who expected to gain from the last event instead found people high-tailing it out of town. Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi said, "We want as many people as possible to go to the U.S. Open. The second thing is we want people to go to downtown Farmingdale. Last time, there was very little interconnection between the event and the nearby downtown community." To encourage fans to stick around, the county and village have come up with pamphlets and a guidebook to local shopping, restaurants and pubs, and enlisted a group of 50 volunteers to serve as ambassadors. Identifiable by their bright orange caps the concierges will be strolling through major train stations along the route and on trains answering questions and giving suggestions on how to explore Farmingdale, Suozzi said. With many of the streets immediately in the area closed, spectators can park in one of the 11,000 parking spots at Jones Beach and then take a 20-minute bus ride to Bethpage Black. But officials are urging fans to instead take the LIRR Ronkonkoma line to Farmingdale, and then take a 10-minute bus ride to the course. To encourage riders, the LIRR has added 13 extra trains both ways during the tournament, running roughly every half-hour from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Off the train, riders will have to make their way through the USGA's 12 magnetometers before boarding shuttle buses. The USGA has banned cell phones, cameras, music or recording devices and refreshments on the course.


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