By Danny Schrafel
A small bit of relief to a parking crunch at the Huntington LIRR station may be on the way soon, town officials said Monday.
That’s because a handful of the 228 parking spaces on the fourth and fifth floors that were closed earlier this month for emergency repairs due to faulty concrete, could reopen by week’s end, town spokesman A.J. Carter said.
It’s unclear how many spots will reopen on the fourth floor, where 116 stalls are closed; when the emergency repair project was announced at the beginning of the month, Carter said spots could begin reopening within two to three weeks.
Recent snowfall has not pushed that timetable back, he said.
“The timetable factored in the possibility of weather causing some delays, so things are still on schedule,” he added.
The emergency repairs are due to faulty concrete being used during 2013 repairs to the garage, performed by Long Island City-based contractor Structural Preservation Systems, resulting in the concrete being too absorbent and susceptible to rapid decay.
The sudden closure, paired with heavy snow, has caused headaches for commuters.
In the waiting room at the Huntington LIRR station, a sign reads, “For parking issues, call Town Hall,” and then lists the main line for Town Clerk Jo-Ann Raia’s office. That in itself is an issue – the Town Clerk’s office doesn’t handle those calls; Public Safety does, and the town clerk’s office has gotten “a ton of calls” as a result, a staffer said.
Some commuters have suggested the town should provide a rebate on their $75 per year parking pass; Carter said that won’t be considered, because the permit “does not guarantee space in a particular area,” just a spot in a municipal lot.
“Parking is available in the surface lots, most notably the one on the west side of New York Avenue between Railroad and Church Streets,” he said.
A plan to create a garage-specific permit, which would have increased the annual fee to $600 per year and guaranteed permit-holders a spot in the garage, was scrapped in late 2012 after a public outcry over the cost.
Commuter Richard McLaughlin, of Northport, who typically uses the Huntington train station because it offers more frequent trains to Manhattan, said on Monday morning he and other commuters are making do.
“The secret on the Island – most people don’t like to walk. They want to park right next to the train,” he said. “There’s parking. You just have to walk a little.”
Commuters are making use of previously underused municipal fields. One, on the south side of the tracks that McLaughin said is “very rarely used” was “packed to capacity the other day.”
The bigger problem, he added, may have been Mother Nature.
“The problem has been because of the snow and the plowing,” he said.