Floral Park’s Fitzgerald says many issues mitigated, but more work to be done

Floral Park’s Fitzgerald says many issues mitigated, but more work to be done
Mayor Kevin M. Fitzgerald. (Photo courtesy of Kevin M. Fitzgerald)

Floral Park Mayor Kevin Fitzgerald said he believes the village has gotten a lot resolved when it comes to community issues over the last two years but more work is still to be done.

“I think we have gotten to a place where they have been mitigated,” Fitzgerald, who is running for re-election this March, told Blank Slate Media. 

Specifically, Fitzgerald referred to different instances including the development at Belmont Park with the UBS Arena and ongoing construction with the Third Track Project. 

The mayor believes the biggest upcoming challenge will be the housing plan proposed by Gov. Kathy Hochul earlier this year. 

Her proposal seeks to create 800,000 new housing units across the state in the next 10 years, with a special focus on Long Island, aiming for 38,218 new units from 2023-2025.

Fitzgerald believes if instituted, the plan would be a “detriment to Floral Park and any village on Long Island.” 

He added that the village has built smartly, where local input can be considered and the people in charge of the decisions are residents themselves, not bureaucrats in Albany.

“Whether it’s apartments across The Harrison or rebuilding Centennial Hall, we have an impact from the village itself,” Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald, who has been a Floral Park resident since 1999, was first appointed to the Village Board in 2011 and was made deputy mayor in 2016 after James Rhatigan’s death. 

He is currently running for his second term as mayor after replacing Dominick Longobardi in 2021. He first got involved in village government as a member of the Third Track Task Force, fighting the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s plan for a third Long Island Rail Road track in the mid-2000s.

Fitzgerald is on the same ticket as Deputy Mayor Lynn Pombonyo and Trustee Frank Chiara. All three candidates are running on the Floral Park Citizens Party line. 

When the UBS Arena opened up in the winter of 2021, Fitzgerald said in a letter to residents some of the issues the village saw were increased traffic and illegal trespassing to travel to and from the stadium.

The Village Board in 2022 established a residential parking system for a section of the village between the northern border of Belmont Park and south of Atlantic Avenue.

A parcel of land that borders both the village and park was determined last year to remain undeveloped and not be included in any future development plans for Belmont. 

The land, also known as “the Triangle,” was a longtime priority of the village to maintain and preserve the property that connects the end of Crocus Avenue, Floral Park-Bellerose School’s playground and the north lot of Belmont Park with greenery.  It gives the school an easement in parts of the preserved area for class use. 

The board has been in ongoing negotiations with the LIRR regarding the temporary vehicular gate at Tunnel Street. The village has been campaigning for keeping the gate, a narrow entryway adjacent to the Hempstead Line that connects the north and south side of the village for pedestrians. 

The LIRR is adamant about keeping the gate as is for vehicles.

Village officials said the LIRR has agreed to most of the proposals it most recently laid out, which include narrowed paths exiting the tunnel to slow down bikes and vehicles, a security camera and a 12-foot high curb.

The biggest holdup on the village’s proposal is the removable bollards that would be placed in front of the 4-foot pedestrian gate and 8-foot vehicle gate. 

A meeting was held in December on the area which included a Q&A with LIRR representative Hector Garcia. 

If re-elected, Fitzgerald said he wants to preserve the qualities of the village that make Floral Park what it is. 

“I look forward to working hard for the residents and maintaining the suburban lifestyle,” Fitzgerald said. 

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