October 26, 2018

Dear Neighbors,

Today we learned from 3TC, that they will begin taking down over 30 trees along Covert Avenue; north and south of the railroad grade crossing between First and Fifth Avenues.  They explained that the trees must be removed “…to make way for utility relocations in anticipation of the work on Covert AS WELL AS the under-grade crossing.”  3TC added that every tree removed off of the LIRR right of way will be replaced.  The tree removal may begin as early as Friday, October 26th.

Naturally, the Village Board is very upset about this disturbing consequence of the third track project.  Trees are a very important aspect of our village.  They create the soft suburban character of our community.  They absorb noise and cleanse the air we breathe.  The trees often obscure otherwise unsightly views with their natural beauty.  Many of you know that we are averse to taking down healthy trees, even when their impressive girth imposes on nearby inanimate infrastructure.  We have always given the living tree every chance we can to preserve it – unless there is no other reasonable alternative.  The Village Board has a program to plant more, street friendly trees that won’t interfere with sidewalks, curbs or overhead wires.  We chide PSE&G for the way the trees’ appearance is butchered in deference to the wires that are strung through their branches.

These are some of the reasons the USDA Forest Service in connection with the New York State Department of Conservation and the National Arbor Day Foundation has designated New Hyde Park as a “Tree City”.  These are also reasons why we are deeply saddened that this deforestation is happening in our village.

Not that it is any condolence, but our neighboring villages are going through a similar experience.  Trees along the LIRR mainline are being removed to prepare for the construction work to follow.  This has negatively changed the landscape in many places.

A treeless Covert Avenue is one of many hardships we will bear as the project gears up in the coming weeks and months.  We will see the building at 124 Covert Avenue be demolished very soon.  Covert Avenue will be closed in February for 6 months and the 24 hour a day excavation of the underpass will begin.  The entire area will be a construction zone.  To say that it will not be a pretty sight is a gross understatement.

We must take heart though, that this is a temporary situation.  The project will be completed in the fastest way possible.  New trees will be planted and grow in place of those that were sacrificed.  The new trees will provide shade over new roads after the project is finally done.

The ultimate result will be a safer, quieter and landscaped roadway and underpass that compliments the suburban village it runs through.

And we will plant more trees.

Sincerely,

Lawrence J. Montreuil

Mayor, Village of New Hyde Park

 

September 9, 2018

Dear Neighbors,

The Village of New Hyde Park will host another in a series of public information sessions about the LIRR Third Track Project.  We will have presentation from the LIRR and Third Track Constructors (3TC), the design-build consortium that has the contract to perform the work.

The meeting will be held at the New Hyde Park Road School auditorium located at 300 New Hyde Park Road on Thursday, September 13th at 7:30 pm.

Please be sure to attend this important meeting to get an update on the project, including a description of what will be done and where; and the impacts we can expect to experience.

As you can see, the LIRR Third Track Project is upon us.  Early work has begun in and around Covert Avenue; relocating underground utilities.  This includes water, sewer and gas lines on Second Avenue, Third Avenue, Wayne Avenue and Covert Avenue.

The early works of this mega-project is already showing early adverse impacts to our residents.  We are working with the LIRR and 3TC to improve communications and to better manage and mitigate some of those impacts.

The work on Covert Avenue required a lane closure north of the tracks, resulting in traffic backed up on Covert Avenue and nearby streets at different times.

The work on gas lines on Covert Avenue resulted in the placement of steel plates over the excavation sites.  The plates were poorly positioned and loose, causing a good deal of noise when vehicles ran over them.  Residents on Covert Avenue were subject to that noise 24 hours a day and throughout the Labor Day weekend.

Covert Avenue residents were also subject to jackhammers running well past midnight as National Grid and their contractor worked to get the gas lines lowered to accommodate the depression of Covert Avenue.

There is still more excavation to be done in the area as new catch basins will be installed beneath Second Avenue to permit drainage from what will be the Covert Avenue underpass.

In the next few weeks we should see the demolition of the industrial building at 124 Covert Avenue.  This property will be used for staging of construction equipment.

The unfortunate truth is that some of these conditions will continue to impact us as the project progresses.  The good news is that once it is complete, New Hyde Park will be an even more desirable place to live and raise a family in a wholesome suburban community.

Best regards,

Lawrence J. Montreuil

Mayor

June 11, 2018

LIRR Update

Dear Neighbors,

Although there are few outward signs, the Third Track Project is in full swing and in high gear.  The “early work” is being done that includes engineering designs, land surveys, soil samplings, etc.  Representatives from the design-build firm, Third Track Constructors or 3TC, will be conducting inspections of specific homes that are located close to the tracks to establish the existing condition of the foundations.  This is so any claims homeowners may make for damage due to vibration from the construction can be referenced against the pre-construction condition.

The Village continues to manage the process and assure that the mitigations we negotiated in our Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the LIRR are realized as the project has been turned over to the design-build firm.  3TC has received the notice to proceed and they are now on the clock to complete the mega-project in the contractually agreed time frame.  To that end, we have retained The VERTEX Companies, Inc., a renowned engineering firm to perform reviews of all engineering documents that pertain to the project and require approval by the Village of New Hyde Park.

An early task was to perform a gap analysis between the original letter I sent the MTA listing our concerns and the suggested mitigations, to the MOU that captured our agreement on mitigation steps, to the MTA / 3TC contract.  The requirements seem to have flowed down through the documents although without a lot of detail.  At our meetings with 3TC we provide the color and context of the written word so 3TC understands the spirit and intent of the document.  We have found 3TC to be attentive and respectful, yet we understand their motivation to proceed with great speed and to manage costs.

Our motivation is to ensure that this project proceeds with the least possible adverse impacts to the residents of New Hyde Park, and that the result we are left with not only preserves but improves the suburban character of our village.

During our last meeting with 3TC, we requested a number of plans that would give us more insight into the degree to which the project will impact our community and its residents.  We are still waiting for a traffic control plan, a dust control plan, a rodent control plan, a parking plan, etc.  These plans are still in development.  Our MOU asserts our right to provide input and influence into how these activities are accomplished so our residents are protected.

For example, on June 1st we were given the completed designs for the water and sewer relocation plan for Covert Avenue.  We are asked to complete our technical review and provide our approval in seven days.  The designs revealed plans to replace the sanitary sewer serving residents on Wayne Avenue.  One obvious question we have posed is: how long will residents be without water, sewer and other utility services?

 

While we are still awaiting other plans, our meeting did provide insight into some high level points on when different elements of the project will evolve.  Perhaps the most poignant was the answer to my question of the hours of operation during construction.

We were told for this project to be completed on time, it will be necessary to work around the clock.  So, to excavate Covert Avenue and install the foundations, 3TC will be running two drills, each drilling 50’ deep for 250’ to the north and 250’ to south of the crossing for five days per week, 24 hours per day.  The drills emit 75dba, not including other construction equipment, trucks with back up alarms, electrical generators, workers’ voices, etc.  The process will be repeated on New Hyde Park Road in August and September of 2019.

A high level view of some of the construction work is as follows:

 

August, 2018 124 Covert Avenue will be demolished.  The property will be used to stage construction equipment and for construction of the bridge structures that will support 2nd Avenue, the railroad and 3rd Avenue.  The property will be returned to the present owner when the project is finished.

 

February – March, 2019 Drilling and excavation along 500’ of Covert Avenue, 5 days per week, 24 hours per day.

 

April, 2019 Demolition of 115 New Hyde Park Road.  A cistern will be buried to facilitate drainage from the New Hyde Park Road underpass.  A surface parking lot will be built at the site.

 

August – September, 2019 Drilling and excavation along New Hyde Park Road, 5 days per week, 24 hours per day.

 

We will share more details as we receive them.

We are continuing to work very closely with 3TC and the MTA/LIRR to keep our sometimes diverging interests aligned.  I am also coordinating closing with Senator Phillips who has been a vigilant supporter of New Hyde Park.  Additionally, after speaking with Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth at the New Hyde Park Little League parade, we have formed a coalition of mainline mayors.  Along with the Ms. Bosworth, the mayors meet to discuss common concerns in each of our jurisdictions.  This group meets on a regular basis.

The Village is also seeking 100 Village residents who live close to tracks to participate in responding to a quarterly survey of how well 3TC is doing.  The results will be used, along with other input, to create a scorecard for the firm.  The results of the scorecard will determine if 3TC receives all or some of a $250,000 bonus each quarter.  Please contact Village Clerk-Treasurer, Kate Hillmann nhpclerk@vnhp.org if you would like to participate.

 

 

Once again, we will continue to provide updates on this very important project.

Sincerely,

 

Lawrence J. Montreuil

Mayor

 

LIRR THIRD TRACK UPDATE

February 18, 2018

Dear Neighbors,

I was recently informed by officials from the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) that a contract has been signed with 3rd Track Constructors (3TC), the design build firm that has been hired to design and construct the project.  This marks the beginning of what is the largest single project to impact our community.  The Village Board will continue to work to ensure the adverse impacts of this project on New Hyde Park are mitigated and that the resulting project will be an improvement to our suburban quality of life.

LIRR officials recently met with myself, Deputy Mayor Donna Squicciarino, Village Clerk – Treasurer Kate Hillmann and Village Attorney Peter Trendecost to review some of the points we negotiated in our memorandum of understanding (MOU).  The MOU describes how the concerns you expressed at so many meetings are going to be addressed by the LIRR and 3TC.  While preliminary in nature, the meeting left me feeling confident that the LIRR remains committed to all of those points and to minimizing the adverse impacts to NHP.  The LIRR also remains ready to flow down those concerns to 3TC.

Our discussion topics included setting up an introductory meeting with 3TC, reviewing the process for drawing down on the $30 M community benefit fund to offset inconveniences, communication plans and how the village will continue to influence the design and construction activities in New Hyde Park.  We also stressed that the village is to be included in discussions across different stakeholders whenever there is impact to the people of New Hyde Park.

For example, the MOU we negotiated speaks to our desire to have utility lines buried along or adjacent to the right of way.  This is in lieu of designs we saw for 90’ steal poles through our village.  In this case, we insist upon being present when tradeoffs are discussed, and that deference goes to those people who are most impacted.

I shared similar concerns when I met last week with Nassau County Legislators Richard Nicolello and Vincent Muscarella at Village Hall.  I asked for their support, along with that of County Executive Laura Curran that all county departments; Police, Public Works, Traffic Management, etc. are completely in synch with the Village of New Hyde Park and that no agency or stakeholder is operating in a silo.

Our intent is to have a high level of coordination to ensure there are no unintended consequences from actions that one entity feels is the most expedient route.  This of course includes the design build firm themselves, who have a huge economic incentive to complete the project on or before schedule.

Evidence of the design build firm’s enthusiasm to move quickly is already visible.  The LIRR has given 3TC limited notice to proceed.  The ownership of the Safety Storage building at 115 New Park Road has already been turned over to 3TC.  Although the village has not yet received a demolition permit application, we may see that building razed soon.

You may also see the following activities happening already:

  • Survey teams taking measurements
  • Crews clearing vegetation along the track side
  • Soil boring samples being extracted

In meeting with the LIRR and with the county legislators, I also shared our preliminary plans for limited transit orientated development of Second and Third Avenues.  I shared the themes and concepts of this vision of creating a downtown community district for our residents.  The discussion included depictions of the colonial style that we would like to have incorporated in the station platform to integrate our project with that if the LIRR.  The Village Board is having renderings of the concept prepared and will be able to present those plans with greater detail in the near future.

Meanwhile, we will continue to work with all involved parties to ensure the concerns of New Hyde Park residents are addressed.  Senator Elaine Phillips for example, continues to be a champion for the concerns of the people of New Hyde Park.  The Senator will be meeting with County Executive Laura Curran and the MTA Chief Development Officer Janno Lieber this week to discuss the project and how it is executed.  The Senator reached out to me for our input so that those topics important to New Hyde Park will be addressed.

We will keep you, our neighbors updated as developments of this project occur; through this website, at regular village board meetings, with press releases to the local papers and through the village newsletter.  Please don’t hesitate to contact us at your village hall if you have any specific questions or concerns.

Thank you,

 

 

Sincerely,

Lawrence J. Montreuil

Mayor

 

 

July 27, 2017

Dear Neighbors,

    I  would like to provide you with an update on the LIRR Third Track Project.

    I am sure you are aware that the project cleared its final hurdle and is going forward.  The State Senate cleared the way earlier this month by deciding not to veto the $1.9 billion amendment to the MTA capital plan.  This after waiting for New Hyde Park and Floral Park to complete our negotiations with the LIRR and the Governor’s office to address the serious concerns raised by our respective residents.

    It has been reported that the Senate’s approval was contingent upon receiving word from the Villages of New Hyde Park and Floral Park that we approved of the project.  This is not accurate.  The villages did not approve of the project.  New Hyde Park never had a vote in whether the project gets done or not.  Although we certainly made known our doubts over the need for many elements of the project, the decision to move forward was made by the elected officials in Albany. 

    Our concern has focused on how the project would be done in our communities.  The villages reached an agreement with the MTA, LIRR and the Governor’s office on how the concerns expressed by our residents would be addressed. The senators enabled us to reach an acceptable agreement with the LIRR.

    To minimize those effects, and with the approval of the Village Board, I signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the LIRR that describes the commitments the LIRR will make to address the concerns that many of you raised.

    The insistence by Senator Elaine Phillips and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan that these concerns be addressed to our satisfaction, made it possible to achieve the necessary commitments from the Governor’s team. I would like to express my profound appreciation to Senators Philips and Flanagan.

    Our legal team worked around the clock and interfaced with multiple parties in the Governor’s Office, the LIRR and the MTA to protect our residents.  I would also like to thank Floral Park Mayor Dominick Longobardi and his team, Trustee Archie Cheng and Village Administrator Gerry Bambrick for standing with New Hyde Park in addressing our common concerns.

    The Agreement we signed is not a panacea for all issues, but lays out a fair and reasonable approach for dealing with unintended consequences of the project.   The MOU provides an insurance policy of sorts that the project will be done in a way that is sensitive to the concerns that residents have raised.  Our goal was to try to better balance the cost / benefit equation for New Hyde Park.  We believe that has been accomplished.

    More specifically, our agreement with the LIRR includes among other things, the following: 

    Three at grade crossings will be eliminated in New Hyde Park in way that is sensitive to our community character and not only preserves, but ultimately improves our suburban quality of life.

New Hyde Park, and other villages, will have a seat at the table in reviewing proposals and designs and timetables.  Village input will continue throughout the life of the project.  This is critical in the design / build construction method when plans are likely to change quickly.

Deference will be given to the village on aesthetic issues and a consistent appealing architectural theme will be prevalent throughout all structures.

New Hyde Park residents will judge how well contractors perform and determine if contractors are rewarded or penalized for behavior that affects safety and quality of life.

Escalating financial penalties will accrue to the village if the contractor fails to meet scheduled milestones.

A $2.7 M fund will be established for New Hyde Park to draw from to pay for qualified expenses incurred as a result of the project, or to make improvements to offset inconveniences.

The village will review and approve traffic patterns for detours and construction equipment.

The LIRR will pay for repairs to roads, buildings and properties that are damaged because of the project.

A decorative sound wall will reduce noise and will be softened with landscaping provided by the LIRR.

The village will be consulted on construction plans and schedules to minimize impacts.

The contractor will establish a communication plan to alert residents and merchants to disruptions. The design/builder will have a point of contact for all resident and village concerns, including a 24/7 hotline where all issues will be logged and responded to within 24 hours.  A governmental liaison will be available for the village to escalate unresolved issues.

The LIRR will work with the utilities and the contractor to avoid installing the massive 90 feet tall steel utility poles that have been planned to run along the railroad.  All parties will work together with a goal to bury the utilities where feasible.

The parties will work together to find the least disruptive and feasible drainage solution.

The LIRR is projecting to add 10 daily commuter train stops at New Hyde Park.

The project will not result in a reduction in parking at the New Hyde Park station over current capacity.

The contractor will install a muni-meter system to replace the current voucher parking for non-resident parking.  All parking revenue will be retained by the Village.

The Village will reduce its annual lease payment for parking spaces paid the LIRR from $40,000 per year to $1 per year.

The ongoing dialogue among New Hyde Park, the Governor’s office, the MTA and the LIRR has opened new opportunities for us to work collaboratively for the benefit of New Hyde Park.  The immediate benefits that resulted from these discussions that are not directly related to the Third Track Project includes:

  • The set aside of $5 M to establish a small retail district near the railroad station.
  • Access to an additional $5 M in state grants for downtown development of this site.
  • Funding of $800,000 for New Hyde Park’s on-going Road Improvement Program.
  • Prioritization for funding a new Department of Public Works garage.

   In addition, I recently met with Congresswoman Rice’s office to explore obtaining federal funds to assist in these and other projects. 

   As the project is now moving forward, circumstances demand that our goals now shift to take a very impactful project and have it built out in a way that when completed, actually enhances the village character.

We have a very rare opportunity to greatly improve the suburban character of our village in a way that we would otherwise be unable to do.  Our efforts over the last 18 months and especially over the last month of very intensive negotiations has brought us to the verge of seizing this opportunity. 

There is little doubt that this project will result in significant adverse impacts, hardships and reduced quality of life during two years of construction.  Make no mistake, we are in for severe disruptions.  And those impacts will not be limited to the areas immediately adjacent to the railroad.  All areas of the village are likely to experience effects.  However, when completed, I am confident the project will serve as an impetus for greater improvements in the suburban quality of life we cherish.

 

Sincerely,

Lawrence J. Montreuil

Mayor

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