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Cold Spring Harbor residents: We want more parking, but not a garage

The town announced $11.48 million in state grants to build a parking garage at the community's Long Island Rail Road station, but residents fear it will simply increase traffic and congestion.

Cars park on the grass and in unmarked

Cars park on the grass and in unmarked areas at the Cold Spring Harbor LIRR station parking lot on Tuesday.

A proposal by the Town of Huntington to build a 150-car parking garage at the perennially packed Cold Spring Harbor train station has worried some neighbors concerned that traffic would crowd the residential area around the station.

In October, Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci announced $11.48 million in state grants allocated to build the garage at that Long Island Rail Road station, and to make improvements to the parking areas at the Huntington station. Frustrated Cold Spring Harbor drivers have been known to leave their cars on grassy areas after the 1,000-space lot fills up.

“I think they meant well — you want to give the commuters parking,” said resident Lawrence Kissane, who lives nearby and cited an increase in traffic around Woodbury Road. “The problem is it is a very small community. It is a small [LIRR] lot. It is not like Hicksville or Huntington Station.”

Kissane and about 100 of his neighbors in the Cold Spring Hills Civic Association voted at their Oct. 29 board meeting to send a letter to Lupinacci opposing the plans.

“As the train station property is completely surrounded by residences, the . . . LIRR parking lot is wholly inappropriate for any above ground parking structure regardless of where it is located on the property,” association vice chairwoman Karen Friel wrote in the letter. “In essence, ‘if you build it, they will come.’ Woodbury Road is not able to handle the increased traffic that would result from increased parking, as it is already very heavily congested during both morning and afternoon/evening peak hours.”

Friel suggested the town instead expand parking at the Huntington LIRR station and stop issuing parking stickers to nonresidents.

“While it was recognized that there is a parking problem, it is apparent that the more parking that is provided, the more commuters will come from further areas,” civic association chairwoman Gayle Snyder wrote in the association’s winter newsletter. “The area is already overly congested.”

The LIRR reported the westbound ridership out of Cold Spring Harbor is typically 1,494 passengers each weekday, while 5,989 westbound riders depart from Huntington each weekday. The parking lots at both stations are owned by the town, though the LIRR owns a sliver of land adjacent to the Cold Spring Harbor lot with space for 40 vehicles with town-issued parking permits.

Railroad officials estimated that the Cold Spring Harbor lot is typically 100 percent full and the Huntington lot is typically “at or near capacity” on weekday mornings.

Lupinacci said in a statement that the area’s traffic woes are exacerbated by Manhattan-bound commuters heading east to Huntington just for parking, but he promised to work with the civic association to address its concerns.

“The overflowing lot at Cold Spring Harbor often forces residents to travel east, piling on to the parking congestion at Huntington Station, before heading to their destination to the west,” Lupinacci said in the statement. “A complete renovation of Huntington’s north and south parking lots will vastly improve parking conditions at Huntington Station and the Town will be seeking input from residents and closely working with the Cold Spring Hills Civic Association to ensure that we achieve the additional capacity needed in Cold Spring Harbor, resolving parking concerns that commuters have raised.”

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