Village of Great Neck Plaza trustees introduced plans at last Wednesday’s board meeting for a transportation project to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety on Shoreward Drive and Welwyn Road.

The village received $838,000 in federal funding for the Transportation Enhacement Project, which Village of Great Neck Plaza Mayor Jean Celender said would improve more than just pedestrian safety.

“Enhancement is in the name of it and its there because they allow for beautification and safety improvements,” Celender said. “It gives us the opportunity to really bring this area of the village up to the standards of providing streetscape improvements and plazas and other things that can make it more lively, more exciting and revitalized.”

The village has hired consulting firms Lockwood, Kessler & Bartlett and The RBA Group to design plans for the project.

LKB engineer Albert Dawson said in designing the project, his firm had various goals it wanted to achieve including promoting walking and pedestrian use, creating safer streets, revitalizing the area, incorporating the needs of both pedestrians and businesses, improving resident quality of life and reduce the negative impact of motor vehicles.

One of the improvements to the area, which generates high pedestrian and vehicle traffic because of the surrounding stores like kosher supermarket Shop Delight and a U.S. Post Office, Dawson said, was to create a mid-block raised crosswalk that would offer pedestrians a safer way of crossing the street from a commuter lot and slow down cars driving through.

“It’s like a raised table so hopefully it will help slow down vehicles coming into the area,” Dawson said.

The Great Neck Park District has a five-year agreement with Shop Delight that allows shoppers to use the district’s Shoreward Drive parking across from the Welwyn Road store during certain times under a program in which shoppers leave their keys with attendants from the Progressive Valet Parking Corp. of Woodhaven.

Deputy Mayor Ted Rosen said he was concerned residents would not use the crosswalk, especially if the board were to approve an application by Shop Delight to operate a butcher shop three stores down on Welwyn Road.

“We have a situation here where the park district has this arrangement with Shop Delight and possibly with this butcher shop, which I think is good but this encourages people to cross the street,” Rosen said. “If we have that arrangement where people are encouraged to cross the street and we are going to increase pedestrian traffic to the eastern end of the shopping plaza, we have to make sure that we accommodate people crossing safely.”

Dawson said the current plan “forces” pedestrians to use the crosswalk through fencing and street planters.

While many residents said they liked the project, they also said little could be done to prevent double-parking and traffic build-up.

“There’s a lot of honking and there’s a lot of cars I would say are probably more aggressive than they should be in trying to navigate that,” resident Braden Ferrari said about cars waiting for parking spots to open.

Dawson said there would be sufficient area for vehicles to navigate around double-parked cars because lanes are 18 feet wide in the new plan.

Ferrari said increased enforcement in the area would prevent drivers from double-parking.

Resident Louise Linder said drivers would continue to wait in the middle of the lane for a parking space to open up.

“Where is the enforcement? It’s not there now and it’s not gonna be there,” Linder said.

Rosen, who said he supervises the village’s code enforcement officers, said the limited number of code enforcement officers makes it difficult for the village to catch every parking violator.

“We have a limited number of code officers and they do spend a great deal of time in that area,” he said. “Anyone here should not have the thought that the village is not actively enforcing this area. We are and we continue to that everyday within our capabilities.”

According to village court records, in 2015 code enforcement issued 21,079 parking violations throughout the village.

As well as aiming to improve traffic concerns, the project would see the creation of what Dawson called a “Post Office Plaza.”

He said in designing the new roads, LKB was able to create an additional 30 feet of landscape area, which it would use to create a beautified area with seating for residents to enjoy while they’re out walking.  

Dawson said the plan was to have a final design completed by November 2016 and begin construction in April 2017.

He added the estimated project completion date is November 2017.

Celender said the village and consulting firms would take any comments from residents when developing a finalized plan.

“We’re going to have to look at these questions and comments and [Dawson will have to determine from an engineering standpoint what appropriate changes should be made,” she said. “We’re not set and stone on this particular alternative tonight.”

She also said she “welcomed” all comments and suggestions from residents until the Feb. 17 deadline for LKB to submit a draft plan to the state Department of Transportation.  

Also at the meeting, the village approved amending affordable housing laws for the village’s C-2 zoning district.

The board began talks to amend village affordable housing laws on Dec. 2, after settling a federal lawsuit in October that alleged the village had violated fair housing laws by denying minorities equal opportunity to affordable housing units at The Maestro, a 94-unit rental apartment complex at 255 Great Neck Road in the C-2 district.

The code amendments eliminate age and residency requirements for affordable housing units, as well as remove the village from the screening of potential applicants. That responsibility would fall to developers.

In May 2014, Long Island Housing Services and the Fair Housing Justice Center filed a complaint in Central Islip’s Eastern District Court of New York, claiming the village was violating local, state, and federal laws by enforcing discriminatory age and race requirements for affordable housing.

The village settled its portion of the lawsuit on Oct. 1 by agreeing to pay $200,000 in damages and attorney’s fees.

The next board meeting is on Feb. 17.

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