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Great Neck Plaza wants to use USPS garage for parking

Sen. Chuck Schumer has urged the U.S. Postal

Sen. Chuck Schumer has urged the U.S. Postal Service to lease a vacant garage to the Village of Great Neck Plaza in a bid to provide more parking for residents in the area. The garage is seen here on Shoreward Drive on June 7, 2016. Credit: Newsday / William Perlman

Parking in downtown Great Neck Plaza is scant, and local officials think an underutilized parking garage owned and operated by the United States Postal Service may be just the solution.

Village officials have asked the USPS to lease the lower level of a two-floor parking garage adjacent to the post office, at 1 Welwyn Rd., a request that was recently supported by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) in a letter to the agency.

The parking garage is “virtually not used” and could cure parking woes in the village, which does not have enough street parking for residents, said Deputy Mayor Ted Rosen.

Residents living in nearby apartment buildings often have to circle the block in search of street parking, or resort to parking in municipal lots, some of which are a half-mile away and cost more than $300 annually, Rosen said.

“It makes no sense for the United States Postal Service to hold on to its vacant parking garage, which is not only a waste of money, but a waste of space,” Schumer wrote in a recent email, calling the proposal a “win-win” for both the USPS and the village.

Connie Chirichello, a spokeswoman for the Postal Service, said the agency has “been engaged in conversations with the Village and continue to weigh all of our options in this issue.”

She disputed the description of the lot as “vacant” and said it is used to store trucks. It is also a “hub for other offices when they transport mail,” Chirichello said.

There are six apartment buildings near the post office, comprising more than 250 units, according to the village. At the five buildings on Welwyn Road, though there is some garage access, not every resident is designated a spot.

“These buildings were built in the years after World War II,” Rosen said. “It’s grossly inadequate parking by today’s standards.”

The USPS parking garage has 30 to 40 parking spaces fitted for trucks, and would need to be reconfigured for passenger cars, a proposal that must be studied by an outside consultant and could result in more parking spaces. The garage would not be metered parking, but exclusively for those with resident permits.

“The intent is not to have shopper parking here,” Rosen said. “We would have appropriate patrols.”

Leasing the lot would reduce residents’ reliance on street parking and free up spots for shoppers, businesses and commuters, Schumer said.

The garage is at a pivotal commercial center on the Great Neck peninsula, which has nine villages and many unincorporated areas served by the Town of North Hempstead. There are close to 260 stores in Great Neck Plaza, a densely populated village home to 90 multiple-family apartment buildings, 148 single-family homes, and about 40 office buildings, according to Schumer’s office.

“We would do much better if we had more parking,” said Hooshang Nematzadeh, a vice president of the Great Neck Chamber of Commerce. “The success of our business retail sector depends on the amount of parking that a village can provide.”

He added that Great Neck Plaza, which he likened to a “giant shopping center,” draws shoppers from across Long Island for its high-end retail shopping offerings.

Though village officials have had informal conversations with USPS employees, there is not yet an official answer. Rosen said he’s hopeful that USPS officials will come to the village to conduct a site visit.

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