Floral Park meets with state, MTA on housing, Tunnel Street gate

Floral Park meets with state, MTA on housing, Tunnel Street gate
The Floral Park Board of Trustees give their reports on Wednesday, March 22. (Screencap by Brandon Duffy)

Floral Park officials Wednesday night told residents they had meetings with both the state and MTA within the last week to address concerns in the village, including Gov. Kathy Hochul’s housing proposal and the MTA’s stance on the vehicular gate at Tunnel Street.

Mayor Kevin Fitzgerald said he met with RuthAnne Visnaskas, commissioner of the state Division of Homes and Community Renewal, and presented research done by the village showing the village has already adhered to the governor’s proposals. 

“Floral Park is already zoned to meet the requirements of the governor’s proposed housing plan without a need to expand multi-family zoning to our areas currently zoned for single-family residential properties,” Fitzgerald said during the Wednesday night meeting. “I also advised her that the Village of Floral Park is already among the top 100 most densely populated cities and villages in the United States.”

Fitzgerald said he presented research done by Building Superintendent Renee Marcus and Village Administrator Gerard Bambrick. 

The mayor previously spoke out against the governor’s housing compact included in her tentative budget, saying “this is a very serious concern for not just Floral Park, but the entire metropolitan area” when it was first introduced. 

Nassau and Suffolk counties under the proposal must meet a 3% housing growth target within each three-year cycle. Other areas of New York, such as upstate, are only held to 1% growth targets.

Additionally, municipalities within 15 miles of New York City and containing a Metropolitan Transport Authority station, such as Floral Park and Bellerose, will have to increase their housing density to 50 units per acre in the half-mile around the station, no matter what the zoning requirements are now.

Trustee Jennifer Stewart also said the village held meetings last week with the MTA to discuss the Tunnel Street gate, which Floral Park has been campaigning to change by converting the current vehicular gate into a more narrow pedestrian gate.

In its 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.”

MTA officials have said the vehicular gate is necessary for switch access and emergency purposes and a forum was held with Hector Garcia, senior director of external affairs, in December to address some of the concerns.

Village officials and residents previously expressed frustration with the vehicular gate still remaining since it was not in the original plans and there is a lot of foot traffic in the area, specifically to cross under the railroad and walk to the village’s recreation center. 

Nassau County Legislator John Giuffrè (R-Stewart Manor) offered mitigation via a right-of-way easement close by in New Hyde Park, which would allow a path for access in specific and limited purposes, Stewart said. 

“Floral Park is adamantly opposed to the Tunnel Street Gate as this was not part of the original plan design and the MTA promised to return the tunnel to its pedestrian-only status,” Stewart said. 

Stewart said residents can voice their concerns with the MTA at 516-203-4955.

The next Floral Park Board of Trustees meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 4.

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