What was the water authority thinking?

Have you taken a stroll or a car ride down Middle Neck Road in the heart of Great Neck’s downtown shopping district lately?

As a consequence of the sidewalks and roads that have been torn up by the Water Authority of Great Neck North to lay new pipe, the resulting noise, dust, traffic jams and potential hazards to sidewalk strollers along Middle Neck Road between Cutter Mill Road and Maple Drive have essentially brought shopping and dining to a halt.

No one questions whether this year-long project of replacing a 100-plus year old water main from Cutter Mill up to Brokaw Lane is necessary.

What is questionable is the thinking, or lack thereof, of the WAGNN in choosing to rip up the center of our shopping district during the height of the most critical selling period of the year for retailers and restaurants.

Especially this year, with small businesses struggling to get by after being shut down for almost six months of the year, this holiday season is vital. For many, this is a make-or-break period. The construction has essentially eliminated any remaining possibilities for outdoor dining, made walking on numerous sections of the sidewalk perilous and made curbside pick-up for many of the stores along this section of Middle Neck Road impossible.

It is a truism that there is no good time to do construction on a main thoroughfare. In fact, that is part of the reason the WAGNN gave as to why the WAGNN did not consider other timing for starting this project. And while there may be no good time for this construction, there is definitely a worst time, and that time is right now.

Did the WAGNN not consider the toll it would take…and is taking…on the merchants who have businesses on Middle Neck Road between Cutter Mill Road and Maple Drive important enough to look at other options for the start of this project?

The WAGNN also points to Nassau County as the reason this project needed to start now and at the location that was chosen.

According to the WAGNN, Nassau County will be repaving Middle Neck Road from Northern Boulevard up to Kings Point, and the county wants the WAGNN to complete its work prior to the start of the repaving. When asked if the WAGNN ever thought to ask the county if they could delay the project until after the new year, the answer was no.

When the WAGNN was asked if consideration was given to beginning the project on a different section of Middle Neck Road, possibly one that was more residential in nature, the answer again was no. And when asked if the WAGNN thought to bring the timing issue up with County Executive Laura Curran, who has been a strong and consistent advocate for small businesses throughout the pandemic, again, the answer was no.

In other words, there was little to no consideration given to what the consequences would be of ripping up the main thoroughfare in the heart of our downtown commercial district during the middle of the most important two months of the year for retailers.

Unfortunately, the damage has been done. There is nothing that is going to change the construction timetable and the negative consequences this is having on those merchants who have stores on this section of Middle Neck Road.

Downtowns are the lifeblood of our communities. Governmental and special district leaders should be doing everything possible to support these small business owners as they look to remain solvent and make it through the hardships wrought by this pandemic. They most assuredly should not be making doing business more difficult than it already is.

As concerned merchants, property owners and business owners in Great Neck Plaza, we ask that our community members support our local merchants – here in the Plaza and throughout Great Neck – during this critical time. There are wonderful holiday gifts and culinary delights to be found throughout our downtown shopping district.

As a community, let’s show more compassion, community spirit and support for our local store owners than has been shown by the WAGNN.

Peter Andreasian, Andreasian Realty;

David Eshaghoff, Eshco Realty;

Marni Ives, Kron’s Chocolatier;

Michael Lamoretti, United Capital Corp.;

Dr. David Nathanson, London Optical;

Donna Trappler, Great Neck Properties;

David Zuckerman, Gelber and Mundy Jewelers;

Bruce Bent, Great Neck Plaza BID President;

Jay Corn, Great Neck Plaza BID Vice President;

Ron Edelson, ZE Creative Communications;

The opinions expressed in this letter represent individually and collectively the opinions of the signatories. All signatories to this letter are current or former merchants, business owners or commercial retail and office property owners. All currently or did serve as members of the Great Neck Plaza Business Improvement District Board or are staff of the Great Neck Plaza BID.

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The Island Now

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