The Town of Hempstead has added no parking signs and...

The Town of Hempstead has added no parking signs and changed parking to resident-permit only on streets surrounding UBS arena in Elmont, including on Wellington Road. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Hempstead Town officials are restricting street parking near the UBS Arena in Elmont after complaints about vehicles blocking driveways and fans congregating near homes.

At an emergency meeting last week, the Hempstead Town Board enacted the new parking regulations to prevent hockey fans and concertgoers from clogging streets.

Dozens of residents have complained to Hempstead officials and Nassau police about the overflow parking since the arena opened to the public Nov. 20 with an Islanders game.

You can’t even get in and out of your own driveways," said Bob Barker, 67, of Elmont, president of the Locustwod/Gotham Civic Association. "We don’t want to feel like we’re living in Manhattan or Brooklyn, but we want to maintain the suburban life. We ask you pass this legislation to have signs changed as soon as possible so we can have some peace and quiet without total disrespect and interruptions."

The town board voted unanimously to approve new parking limits. The restrictions affect roads off Hempstead Turnpike such as Locustwood Boulevard; Heathcote, Huntley Sussex, Warwick and Wellington roads; 106th and 109th avenues, and Fieldmere and Pine streets.

New signs were added last week that read: "No parking anytime, except with permit."

Residents are allowed free parking permits for each vehicle registered at their home and four guest passes, Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin said. The arena was approved before Clavin was elected in 2019.

He said the parking situation around the arena has been worsened by the incomplete parking garage on the other side of Hempstead Turnpike. The garage is not expected to be finished until the spring, state and arena officials have said.

"I think we all knew this was going to happen," Clavin said. "I think we all saw this coming."

The $1.3 billion arena and parking garage was built with the state’s Empire State Development and New York Arena Partners — a joint venture among the Islanders, the Oak View Group and Jeff Wilpon's Sterling Project Development.

The arena’s final environmental impact statement said the Islanders and developers would "take a proactive approach to prevent off-site parking from occurring, including coordinating with the Town of Hempstead to modify the regulations of the existing Elmont Special Parking District."

The town has also filed a home rule law request with the state to expand parking restrictions to other communities such as in Bellerose Terrace and South Floral Park, where residents have said they too face arena-related parking problems.

Clavin said separate bills were passed in the state Assembly and Senate that do not give the town a wider parking enforcement than the surrounding area of the Belmont Park racetrack.

Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder asked the town for the new parking restrictions and signage so cops could begin enforcement and writing tickets, Clavin said.

"Residents knew there was going to be a problem by the fact they opened a beautiful arena without parking to enjoy it. It takes a really long time going in and going out, looking at this unfinished building," Clavin said. "The arena has to be good neighbors because the neighbors live there."

Nassau County Executive-Elect Bruce Blakeman, who will take office in January, opposed the arena as a member of the Hempstead Town Board and wanted the Islanders to remain in Uniondale.

"This is a state operation. If this was the Town of Hempstead that controlled it, this town board would never let the Islanders move in and open that arena without a parking garage being open," Blakeman said. "I think the state did a real injustice to the people of Elmont."

Michael and Lakeisha Gayle, who live across from the arena, said fans are camped out in front of their home before games and speed down the street to get to Hempstead Turnpike. The couple said they are concerned for the safety of their children and enforcement of parking restrictions.

Residents have complained about fans urinating and littering near homes, as well.

"Where was the foresight? We had conversations. We knew parking was going to be an issue," Michael Gayle said. "We know there are going to be problems when other things are built. We know these problems are coming."

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