3rd track info meeting set for Thursday in New Hyde Park

New Hyde Park Mayor Robert Lofaro speaks at the New Hyde Park Road School on Jan. 12, 2016. (Photo by Noah Manskar)

New Hyde Park officials are set to update residents on their talks with planners of the Long Island Rail Road’s third track project at a public meeting Thursday night.

The meeting comes as municipalities along the 9.8-mile stretch of the LIRR’s Main Line where the project will be built negotiate memorandums of understanding with the railroad to ensure potential harm from construction is mitigated, Floral Park village officials said.

Floral Park’s latest copy of its memo, delivered to the village Monday, includes guarantees of accountability for construction crews, improvements to the village’s LIRR station and financial compensation for all affected municipalities, village Trustee Archie Cheng said.

“We’re not opposed to it, but at the same time, we have to make sure that we’re protected until we have to be opposed to it, or we have to say it’s OK,” Mayor Dominick Longobardi said after Tuesday’s Board of Trustees meeting.

New Hyde Park Mayor Lawrence Montreuil announced Thursday’s meeting at his village Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday night, but did not specify what exactly would be presented.

Montreuil could not be reached for further comment on Wednesday.

Cheng and Longobardi plan to attend and discuss their village’s memorandum of understanding, they said. They declined to provide a copy of the most recent draft because it is not final.

Each of the nine municipalities affected by the project will have its own agreement with the railroad, Cheng said.

The LIRR wants to build a third track along the key stretch of its Main Line between Floral Park and Hicksville to create additional railroad capacity and give trains a way around problems that currently cause delays throughout the system.

The $2 billion project will take three to four years to build and will also eliminate seven street-level railroad crossings, build noise reduction walls and add parking spaces, among other improvements, the LIRR has said.

The project has faced local opposition, particularly in New Hyde Park and Floral Park, where residents and officials worry about it worsening traffic, property values and the general quality of life.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors voted last month to add the project to its 2015-2019 Capital Program, which is now before the state’s Capital Program Review Board. The board has until the end of this month to veto that amendment or let it pass.

Project planners have met with village officials and community leaders since Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the project in January 2016. Those talks are now in the final stages to ensure officials have their concerns addressed before construction begins.

Cheng said Floral Park still has reservations about how sufficiently it will be compensated for possible property tax refunds and lost business for local merchants.

“How can we quantify that at this moment? We can’t,” Cheng said.

Shams Tarek, a spokesman for the project, declined to comment.

In a statement last month, Tarek said project planners were continuing their “collaboration” with local officials in talks that have produced benefits such as the railroad crossing removals and station improvements.

Kristy O’Connell contributed reporting.

About the author

Noah Manskar

Noah Manskar is the assistant managing editor for Blank Slate Media and a reporter covering the Willistons, New Hyde Park and Nassau County government.
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