Floral Park discusses proposals for Tunnel Street gate with LIRR official

Floral Park discusses proposals for Tunnel Street gate with LIRR official
The latest proposal from the Village of Floral Park on Tunnel Street. (Photo by Brandon Duffy)

Proposals on the temporary vehicular gate at Tunnel Street in Floral Park was discussed Tuesday night when the village held a brief forum with a representative from the LIRR.

Hector Garcia, senior director of external affairs, answered questions from both the board of trustees and the public Tuesday night during the village’s board of education meeting.

The village has been campaigning for keeping the pedestrian gate at Tunnel Street, a narrow entryway adjacent to the Hempstead Line that connects the north and south side of the village for pedestrians.

In their 2017 environmental impact statement, the LIRR said “a new universal crossover would be installed on the Hempstead Branch just east of Tunnel Street, to improve operations and avoid conflicts with the new third track connection at Floral Park Station.”

The LIRR is adamant about keeping the gate for vehicles. 

Trustees and residents both brought up concerns that for a very busy dead end, there is going to be a lot of traffic.

“I can’t believe we’re discussing this,” Trustee Lynn Pombonyo said Tuesday night. “On its face the idea of having a dead-end street that is small and narrow with pedestrians, children and people coming through as often as they do I don’t know why it wasn’t found to be undesirable in the first place.”

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” high curb, among other things.

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

“We can’t place an impediment and potentially slow down vehicles in case of an emergency,” Garcia said. “It’s like a firetruck or police car, the bollard would be unacceptable.”

Garcia added the vehicle gate needs to stay because there are tools being stored in the area that workers need to access with a car or truck. He went on to say visits would be limited to maintenance and emergencies and no long-term work is planned for the area given that construction had just been completed on the railroad in recent weeks. 

Nassau County Legislator John Giuffrè (R-Stewart Manor) said using Tunnel Street was supposed to be temporary during construction and that the residents deserve to have their village go back to the way it was prior to the railroad installation. 

He added that the LIRR has been using the county’s recharge basin for access over the last year. 

“The county is willing to study modifications to the recharge basin to support the railroad’s equipment so you would not have to bring vehicles through Tunnel Street but Stewart Street and store everything on county property at the recharge basin,” Giuffrè said to Garcia. 

There is currently no timetable for if or when a final decision is going to be made by the LIRR on the gates at Tunnel Street but village officials said they are in constant communication on the gates and other things regarding the village and the discussion is ongoing. 

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