Great Neck Plaza takes steps for multiple community initiatives

Great Neck Plaza takes steps for multiple community initiatives
The Village of Great Neck Plaza made steps Wednesday night to implement various community improvement projects, including for sidewalks, storefronts and pedestrian safety. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Community improvements were on the minds of the Great Neck Plaza Board of Trustees Wednesday night as they approved multiple community development initiatives focused on sidewalks, local businesses and crosswalk safety.

The Village of Great Neck Plaza is seeking funds from the Community Development Block Grant to conduct a series of sidewalk repairs and tree pit renovations along Middle Neck Road.

This would start with the north end of the village, according to village clerk-treasurer Patricia O’Byrne.

She said damage has occurred along the road due to the presence of Maple trees, which building department superintendent Richard Belziti causes damage due to their expansive growth. He said the tree growth has even impacted sewer lines underneath.

“They’ll grow everywhere,” Belziti said. “They’ll grow sideways, they’ll grow down.”

Instead, the village proposed planting Lilac trees as they are not as aggressive nor as damaging to the sidewalks.

The village has historically received these funds, with prior usages of the grant money for roadwork and commercial rehabilitation, O’Byrne said.

The board authorized O’Byrne to apply for the Community Development Block Grant, pitching the sidewalk and tree pit improvement project for the use of the grant money. The application is due March 18.

The Board of Trustees will also be awarding previous Community Development Block Grant money to upgrade various downtown storefronts. Improvements would be for awnings, signs and lighting.

Each of the five storefronts selected would receive about $17,500.

While the village approved the proposal from Universal Signs and Services to conduct the awning and sign updates, it will be re-bidding for lighting proposals as it only received one in the initial bid.

In tandem with improving storefronts, the board also approved adding a permit provision that requires incoming businesses under construction to put up window coverings and a “coming soon” sign.

While the new provision is intended to beautify the storefronts and let residents know when new businesses are coming, Belziti said it will also prevent break-ins by concealing construction equipment inside the stores.

Beyond beautification initiatives, the village also sought community initiatives to bolster pedestrian safety.

The board approved an engineering proposal to conduct a traffic study on Grace Avenue in order to implement leading pedestrian indicators in the future.

Leading pedestrian indicators allow pedestrians to cross the road a couple of seconds before the traffic signal allows cars to proceed. This gives pedestrians a headstart in crossing the road before cars can turn and drive through the crosswalk.

Mayor Ted Rosen said this would enhance traffic safety as it increases pedestrian visibility when crossing the road.

The crosswalk signs would be implemented by Nassau County, Rosen said, but requires the traffic study beforehand.

The study would be of intersections on Grace Avenue, including Barstow Road, Bond Street and Middle Neck Road.

It will be conducted by VHB Engineering for $8,300.

In other news, two residents – a mother and daughter – expressed their concerns to the board about the state of the Maple Drive garage and the alleged crumbling concrete that has damaged their cars and posed a safety hazard.

Josephine Mairzadeh said that she and her mother’s two cars have been damaged for years by crumbling concrete from the parking garage’s ceiling, which has also been a tripping hazard.

Rosen apologized for the damage to the cars and that the village is taking the matter seriously.

“That should not happen,” Rosen said.

Mairzadeh said the village had made it difficult for the car to get fixed, initially telling her mother that it wasn’t the village’s responsibility years ago.

She said she wondered whether this was said to her mother because of her gender or being an immigrant, later saying that indications for such claims were not given.

Rosen denounced these claims, saying that, while he was not involved in the conversation, the village would not treat people differently due to their characteristics.

O’Byrne said the village had agreed to look into fixing the cars through insurance. In consulting the village’s insurance broker, they had asked the Mairzadehs to file a claim through their insurance to then subrogate through the village.

The Mairzades denied going through this process, saying this would increase their insurance rates and would be an unfair financial burden on them.

Instead, the village opted to go through their insurance to prevent such rate increases.

The village requested a statement on the car damage to file through their insurance. When it was first submitted, it amounted to $23,000 in damage and was the wrong statement provided by the car dealer.

A new claim has been submitted to the village, which amounts to about $7,000, and the village is awaiting another statement for the second car.

“We regret that you had this incident,” Rosen said. “Certainly, we don’t want anything to happen causing damage to any of our residents, anyone, and certainly not in the village garage.”

Rosen said repairs had already begun on the parking garage last year and is proposed to resume later this spring or summer. Mairzadeh urged the village to resume construction sooner to prevent any injuries.

The Village of Great Neck Plaza Board of Trustees will convene again on March 20.

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