Covert Avenue residents claim 3TC not helping community

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The New Hyde Park village board at a previous meeting. (Photo by Jessica Parks)

Covert Avenue residents in the immediate vicinity of the road’s grade crossing, which will be closed for six months starting in April for third track work, claim that 3TC is falling short on its community outreach program.

At a New Hyde Park village board meeting Tuesday night, resident Parul Patel and others expressed anger and disappointment with 3TC, the project contractor, and particularly the community outreach team.

“This is a $2 billion project, not a $2 million project,” Patel said. “Are these people even professionals?”

Patel said that the team, and New Hyde Park project ambassador Judy White, have failed on numerous occasions to inform nearby residents of work, and that often when they are given a heads up, the information is late or inaccurate.

White was not immediately available for comment at the time of publication.

The MTA defended White’s handling of community outreach regarding the project.

“Judy White has an exemplary record, earning praise from elected officials, residents, and business owners. When a few residents recently requested detailed engineering and construction information, she suggested an in-person meeting between them and representatives from 3TC’s design and construction teams. The project team looks forward to providing this specific technical information,” an MTA spokesman said in a statement. 

The Covert Avenue grade crossing is being replaced with an underpass crossing as part of the Long Island Railroad’s third track expansion project. The $2.6 billion project will eliminate seven grade crossings along 9.8 miles of track between Floral Park and Hicksville.

This past January, Patel said that White informed her and other residents on Monday, Jan. 14 that they would not have access to their driveways starting Thursday, Jan. 17 for 10 days.

The following day, however, the driveways were already blocked off and stayed that way for 28 days, not 10, according to Patel.

Patel also said that the 3TC has attributed many of the miscommunications between residents and the organization to the village board, which the trustees and Mayor Lawrence Montreuil denied having any knowledge of.

Patel said that when garbage pickup needed to be arranged for the blocked-off homes, White told Patel she was acting on the village’s behalf when requesting what days garbage needed to be picked up.

Patel followed up with building department superintendent Tom Gannon, and he said they never told White to contact residents about that. Gannon, present at the meeting, agreed.

Patel said that 3TC reached out to her Monday about arranging a meeting with residents on the north side of the grade crossing construction. Patel asked if any members of the village board would be attending the meeting, and she was told that the board did not need to be present because they were informed of everything going on with the project already.

Trustee Rainer Burger and Montreuil both disagreed and said that in speaking with 3TC’s public outreach director Travis Brennan, they were told they would be invited to the community meetings when they are scheduled.

Patel and her neighbors asked the board to address these concerns, and others including debris, vibration and utility inconsistencies, with 3TC, whom they speak with on a weekly basis, according to village officials.

Also at the meeting, the board passed a resolution amending a section of the village’s parking code on Lewis Avenue.

Residents had pressed the board in recent meetings about the over-parking at the south end of the street, where employees of a local business would park, congesting the street and sometimes blocking residents’ driveways.

The previous time limit for parking, four hours, was reduced to two hours by the board Tuesday, and Montreuil and the board said they will continue to monitor the area and ensure the new code is enforced.

The next board of trustees’ meeting will be Thursday, March 21 instead of the regularly scheduled Tuesday, March 19 because of village elections.

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