Village of Great Neck officials and residents panned a traffic and parking study presented by the applicants hoping to build a recreational center for the United Mashadi Jewish Community of America on Steamboat Road at a board meeting Tuesday night, with some residents raising concerns about its scope and the project itself.
The study describes the proposed building as an 81,800-square-foot community center on the north side of Steamboat Road, just east of Dwight Lane, that “would provide a new location for a portion of the regularly scheduled programming” taking place at 54 and 130 Steamboat Road.
Sarah Oral of Cameron Engineering, which prepared the report, said the site at 189-195 Steamboat Road would generate – at most – 112 trips during the afternoon and evening peak hours and 150 trips during the Sunday peak hour.
“The conclusion is that the traffic generated by this will not have an adverse impact on the local roadways,” Oral said. “That is expected because during the peak hour you [currently] have about 200 vehicles in each direction on Steamboat Road and the capacity of the road is over 1,300 an hour.”
Oral also said abundant parking is available. While the proposed site would offer 77 spots, the United Mashadi Jewish Community of America’s two other areas on the road would have a minimum of 106 spots between the two available.
Averaging four occupants per car, Oral said there is enough parking for 732 people – well below the 526 maximum occupancy submitted in the proposal.
Tricia Moslin, a Great Neck resident, raised concerns about the scope of the study. She said that since it took place in September, it did not take into consideration the impact weekend Great Neck Park District events could have.
Moslin also said she doesn’t know if cadets from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, who often run down Steamboat Road, were considered and noted that Great Neck drivers are “not the most considerate.”
Oral said that, typically, traffic studies do not incorporate special events.
Deputy Mayor Bart Sobel said these events can create a “significant difference” in traffic, but he doesn’t know “how the interplay will take place between the two.”
A handful of residents also raised concerns about the project concept itself and what it could do in the village.
Susan Butler said the project “by definition is exclusionary,” while Melissa Gould, a Dwight Lane resident, said she is “very disturbed” by the span of the project in what is otherwise an area with “very little traffic.”
“It’s one of the last rural vestiges,” Gould said.
A South Gate Road resident also said it should be “more inclusive” and asked if it could lead to other communities asking for their own community centers.
“… If we’re going to have a diverse community, it should be more inclusive, not exclusive,” he said.
Paul Bloom, an attorney representing the applicant, said the sponsor of the project is a religious community and it is a situation “where there is exclusivity” just as there would be with other religious communities like churches.
“There is exclusivity,” Bloom said. “This is a defined entity, a defined religion, a defined group of people who have a cultural association amongst themselves which is revolving around their synagogue and the programming that takes place is for their children.”
Bloom also said that to accommodate everyone would require a much larger space and people to put up the funds to build it.
In unrelated village business, trustees also approved an architectural design and the facade for 733 Middle Neck Road to have three residential units and either one large or two small store fronts and reduced its parking requirement from 11 spaces to five.
In othervillage business, officials approved allowing the Great Neck Historical Society to hold a portion of its Stepping Stones Lighthouse 5K in the village, for the American Legion to hold its annual parade, and referred a sign design for 617 Middle Neck Road, a proposed tutoring center, to the Building Department.