Readers Write: GN Plaza TEP project reduces area to rubble

Readers Write: GN Plaza TEP project reduces area to rubble

Construction on Great Neck Plaza Mayor Jean Celender’s TEP project in the Welwyn/Shoreward area has been going on since early March.

Before construction began, Celender sent letters to the residents and merchants of the area explaining the parameters of the project. In her letter, she said: “We are looking to schedule operations to have the least disruption to area residents, businesses, shoppers and visitors that utilize this area of the Village’s downtown.” Her words couldn’t possibly be farther from the truth.

To begin with, the construction vehicles consistently arrive on the street before 6 a.m. — most frequently in front of the residential co-op at 8 Welwyn Road — where they begin excavating and jackhammering. Of course, there is no sleep after that for those who live there.

The village has a construction code that specifically limits construction in the village to the hours between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Apparently the rules do not apply to the mayor’s projects. It’s no problem for the mayor that the residents will continue to be deprived of sleep for months.

The TEP construction project has reduced the entire area to rubble.

First they dug up all of the south side of Welwyn Road, from the roundabout to the end of the strip of stores, which included removing the sidewalks and eliminating all the parking spaces. Leaving that part of the job unfinished, they moved on to the area in front of 8 Welwyn Road, where they did the same thing.

Then came the dismantling of the island in the middle of the street, followed by work on Shoreward Drive between the post office and the roundabout at Barstow Road, where they also removed the sidewalks as well as access to all parking, and again left the job unfinished.

Construction then moved on to the excavation for the mayor’s vanity park, which will protrude into the middle of the street in front of the post office.

To date, every area of construction is a mess. Piles of sand, dirt and rocks are everywhere, not a single site has been finished. And residents are forced to breathe in and drag into our homes the dust, dirt and sand that whips through the air every time the wind blows.

Before the TEP project was finalized, Celender scheduled a village meeting for residents and merchants to hear about the project. She played her game of “transparency” and asked for our input.

The idea of a park in front of the post office was met with a resounding “no!” — with a loud and clear consensus that it would become a place where people would eat and smoke, littering it with garbage and cigarette butts, and many were concerned that it might draw “unsavory” visitors.

But the mayor didn’t care. She simply changed the name from “park” to “public plaza.”

Celender’s vanity park, which protrudes into the middle of the street in front of the post office, has substantially narrowed the turning space for the buses that the mayor insists must use Welwyn Road as their route to the station.

She is so into her own agenda that she refuses to recognize that it previously took most of the buses two or three swings to negotiate the turn-around. Now, with the new park configuration, every bus needs at least three tries to make the turn.

Traffic will be at a standstill in the area from the congestion that over 50 buses a day buses will create.  And accidents—for which the mayor should be held accountable—will be inevitable. Yet she still refuses to take the buses off Welwyn Road.

The merchants in the shops on the strip have suffered such severe economic loss from this construction project that they are currently suing the village for loss of income.

When residents of the area asked the mayor to include sorely needed resident parking as part of the project, they were totally ignored.

The best Celender would do was to promise five additional parking spaces. What she forgo to mention, was that she was removing at least twice that number — including the three spaces in front of the post office and three more on Shoreward Drive to provide extra space for the buses to turn because her park will narrow the previous turning space by half.

And, of course, she continues to give tacit approval to Shop Delight’s daily violations of its conditional use permit by allowing their employees to illegally usurp most of the few available parking spaces left in the area without consequence, in spite of the fact that residents cannot park their cars anywhere even remotely near where they live.

Several years ago, the Park District was dealing with the federal government to rent an unused garage under the post office which they planned to use for additional commuter parking. Celender decided that she wasn’t going to let the Park District gain access to that garage, so she outbid them, promising use of the space for a parking garage for residents of the area. Of course, the garage never materialized.

When residents continue to ask village officials why the promise of a parking garage still remains unfulfilled several years later, the answer is always the same: dealing with the federal government is a long, slow process filled with red tape.

This TEP Project has federal funding. I wonder if there have been delays because of federal red tape. The village apparently had no difficulty gaining access to the property abutting the post office so they could build the park that nobody except Celender wants or needs.

Celender’s concern for her constituents remains constant — they just don’t matter. Her projects and actions serve only her own agenda; her words are nothing more than political rhetoric.

Remember what she wrote in her letter: “We are looking to schedule operations to have the least disruption to area residents, businesses, shoppers and visitors…”

Maybe Celender thinks we can’t see through her. She obviously revels at living with her head in the sand.

It’s time for the Jean Machine Regime to go.

Muriel Pfeifer

Village of Neck Plaza

(We want our “Great” back!)


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  1. Exactly right. Not to mention that it recently was necessary to walk in the road because the sidewalk was completely broken up, muddied and blocked making it impossible to walk safely. Haven’t been back to see if it’s improved. Even before this project, delivery vehicles for Shop Delite block the view of oncoming traffic for someone crossing the road. They park at an angle, far from the curb for absolutely no reason and no regard for pedestrians. I asked one of the trucks to move and just got nasty response. GN Plaza needs term limits for mayor to encourage others with newer and better ideas to run.


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