A bridge too far
Is the village of Garden City holding a crucial railroad bridge hostage?
The village has refused to provide necessary permits so the Metropolitan Transportation Authority can replace Denton Avenue Bridge — a long-planned part of the Long Island Rail Road's third track project. The MTA has sued the village to get the permit.
The bridge, also known as Tanners Pond Road bridge, is double-tracked, so it needs to be replaced to accommodate a third track.
That work initially was supposed to be underway already, and due to be completed this summer. Instead, it hasn’t begun.
Some in the village have attributed the pushback to the historic nature of the bridge, or concerns about whether the roadway underneath it will remain a single lane. (It will, the MTA promises.)
But in reality, the delay may be related to the village’s own lawsuit against the MTA to get rid of tall utility poles erected last year. A state Supreme Court judge threw out that lawsuit earlier this month.
Now, the MTA is hoping to convince village officials to agree to issue the permits for the bridge work in exchange for the authority’s offer to do more extensive landscaping along the track, particularly near the poles.
Sources say the MTA had initially set a deadline of Monday for the village to agree to the deal. While village officials didn’t return requests for comment, they were asked about the settlement proposal during a village board meeting last week, and refused to discuss it, citing the ongoing litigation.
And that’s not the only Long Island back-and-forth on the MTA’s plate right now, as the authority also is trying to make progress with the Town of Oyster Bay on redevelopment plans in Hicksville.
After months of a lack of communication and crossed signals, MTA officials met Monday with representatives from Oyster Bay, the state Department of State, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office to discuss the plans for the hamlet.
Four years ago, the town won a $10 million state grant to redevelop the area around Hicksville’s train station, but progress has been slow.
"We had a productive meeting and we look forward to looking at more detail and working with the town on their efforts in the station area," the MTA’s Construction & Development chief of staff John McCarthy told The Point.
Oyster Bay spokesman Brian Nevin also used the term "productive" to describe the meeting and said the MTA is considering two options on how to handle the work that’s on MTA land — either the authority gets the state money and does the work, or it hands over permission for the town to do the work itself.
The town had revised its Downtown Revitalization Initiative plans but then spent months seemingly unable to connect with the MTA, which owns some of the land involved in those plans. Town Supervisor Joe Saladino sent Cuomo a letter last month asking for his help in moving the project forward.
The changed plans include some reductions in the pedestrian pathways and open spaces, and potential improvements to the areas underneath the tracks to accommodate the need for more surface parking. Oyster Bay officials didn’t include much transit-oriented development in their plans for the station area itself, and previously had rejected the MTA’s proposal to build a parking garage in exchange for an eight-story apartment building in the transit district, saying it was too tall.
Instead, the town is working with individual private developers willing to fit their projects to the town’s vision of a maximum height of four stories.
Nevin told The Point that state, MTA and local officials plan to meet again in two weeks.
All of this comes as the Long Islander at the top of the MTA — chair and chief executive Pat Foye — prepares for his last board meeting on Wednesday, as he plans to leave the agency at the end of the month.
No definitive word yet on who will assume his duties, but some have suggested it may be current chief development officer Janno Lieber — who, while not a Long Islander, is all too familiar with Long Island’s transit-related battlefronts.
— Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall
It’s getting hot out there
Even though Long Island is not facing the kind of severe heat scorching the West, we are still vulnerable to excessive heat, and a look at New York State’s heat vulnerability index reveals not only how susceptible we are, but why.
The index, which measures the likelihood that a person will be harmed during times of hot weather, analyzes Long Island by census tract and is calculated from four categories of vulnerability — language, socioeconomic, environmental and elderly isolation. Parts of Long Island may have similar total scores but one might be more unsafe due to different reasons, such as a high percentage of elderly people living alone.
We mapped the data on an interactive map at nextLI with a more in-depth explanation, and readers can explore their communities and see the scores in detail there.
Moving forward, this data can be a useful guide in thinking about Long Island’s resilience to climate change and help us prioritize how to protect our most exposed communities.
— Kai Teoh @jkteoh
For more cartoons, visit www.newsday.com/nationalcartoons
Waiting game in CD2
Last congressional cycle, the open seat to replace Pete King in New York’s 2nd District was one of the most closely watched in the nation to see whether Republicans could hold onto suburban seats in increasingly blue states.
It hasn’t garnered the same amount of action so far. Still, GOP freshman Andrew Garbarino is starting to replenish his war chest with $352,985 raised in the July quarterly period.
Some $136,000 of that came from political committees like union, trade association, or corporate employee PACs, according to the filings released last week. That included contributions from PACs for the Republican Mainstreet Partnership, the American Council of Life Insurers, United Airlines, Aflac, Cigna Corp., and Lockheed Martin Corp. employees.
Among the high-profile individuals who contributed to the freshman Republican were investor Daniel Loeb and Manhattan GOP chairwoman Andrea Catsimatidis.
Garbarino’s sophomore race could get more or less competitive depending on the outcome of congressional redistricting. The state’s Independent Redistricting Commission, which is tasked with drawing district lines, is beginning to hold virtual public hearings across New York’s regions. Long Island’s hearing was slated for Tuesday at 2 p.m., and "feedback and guidance from the residents of New York is of the utmost importance and at the core of the Commission’s goal to fairly and equitably redraw Congressional and State Legislature lines," the group’s website says.
The redistricting calendar is speeding up. The virtual hearings are to be completed before key census data is released in August, and the shape of those new lines for battlegrounds in the state will determine how much attention the LI races get in 2022.
— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano