Residents living near a property slated to become a school bus dispatch facility servicing the Brentwood School District spoke out against the proposal at an Islip Town planning board hearing Wednesday night.
Suffolk Transportation Service, which contracts to numerous school districts, has four main facilities for bus storage in the town, but needs more space because the company wants to discontinue the practice of drivers taking buses home and parking them overnight in residential neighborhoods, company representative Gary Bruno said.
The move also will enable the company to meet U.S. Department of Homeland Security requirements that call for buses to be kept in a secure, fenced facility, he said.
Founded in Islip in 1922, Suffolk Transportation Service — which employs 1,800 people, including 1,500 in Islip and 300 drivers from the Brentwood area — is not adding to its bus fleet, nor adding routes, Bruno said.
It bought the 2.8-acre property at 9 2nd Avenue, at the northeast corner of 2nd Avenue and 2nd Street in Brentwood, several months ago. The company needs a zone change to permit the outside storage of the buses.
The land had been vacant and blighted, but was formerly known as Brentwood Lumber and more recently Riverhead Lumber.
Residents such as Joseph Sawtelle, commander of the Brentwood American Legion, voiced concerns about traffic and possible pollution from the buses and questioned whether there would be sufficient parking for drivers who don’t walk to the facility. Nearby athletic fields already made parking in the area at times challenging, residents said.
Bruno said the 164 gasoline-powered minibuses the company hopes to store at the facility would not add to traffic. They already must drive down the same street twice daily to collect Brentwood School District matrons from the Brentwood Recreation Center opposite the proposed dispatch facility on 2nd Avenue — one supervisor for every bus, for each trip morning and afternoon. “I think we’re actually reducing the number of trips,” he said.
The board voted unanimously to reserve its decision. Chairman Joe DeVincent said the board would look into the issues raised and if possible hold a community meeting. After its recommendation to the town board, there will be another public hearing before a final decision.