By Arielle Dollinger
The estimated 150 parking spaces closed for a months-long overhaul of Huntington village’s Gerard Street lot are officially ready for use, while phase two began on Monday.
Supervisor Frank Petrone announced Friday that the first phase of the reconstruction project “was essentially complete.” The entire lot was open for public use during last weekend’s Long Island Fall Festival at Heckscher Park and the start of Dine Huntington Restaurant Week.
“With the major work complete, and with the remaining work not affecting safety, it makes sense to reopen this portion of the lot, freeing up 146 parking spaces on a weekend when so much is going on in Huntington village,” Petrone said Friday.
Phase one of the two-phase reconstruction project – which included resurfacing, installing a bioswale drainage system and adding spaces – closed approximately two-thirds of the 235-space parking lot to the public beginning in July.
The remaining 75-or-so spaces, which remained open throughout phase one, closed when the second phase of the project began on Monday. The fenced-in enclosure created during phase one of construction – the majority of which has already been removed to allow for public entrance to the lot this weekend – will shrink until it disappears, Carter said.
Merchants with Gerard Street businesses have previously told Long Islander News of their discontentment with the construction, which temporarily took parking away from both their employees and clientele. With the portion of the lot in front of his business open again, Title Boxing Manager Steve Stone, who has been outspoken throughout construction, was the first to park his car in the newly-resurfaced lot.
“I feel like I just got bailed out of jail,” Stone said of the reopening of the parking spaces. “It means, quite frankly, back to business. Back to business as usual.”
Massa’s Coal-Fired Pizzeria owner Bill Massa, however, said it’s more of the same for his business in phase two.
“We’re still behind a fence blocking us all from customers,” he said.
While a core group of loyal customers will find them no matter what, Massa said the construction project has “killed our take out.”
“We’ve seen no improvement for us on our end, unfortunately,” he said.
Meanwhile, the New Street valet parking pilot program, which parks cars on Fridays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. in the New Street lot, is soon to end. Service will be available until Oct. 31.