After a months-long reconstruction project, the Huntington village municipal parking lot that has been home to heavy machinery since July is officially open for public parking.
The Gerard Street lot was reconstructed in two phases. Phase one closed about two-thirds of the spaces from July to mid-October; phase two closed off the remaining third until last Friday. About 10 spaces were added to the 235.
“It was finished on time, as promised, for the final weeks of the holiday shopping season,” said Town Supervisor Frank Petrone on Monday, referring to the work as “a major parking lot rehabilitation project.”
Merchants whose businesses border the parking lot were concerned at the start of the project and relieved at its conclusion.
“We’re very happy,” said Deanna Bradshaw, general manager at Rookie’s Sports Club. “It’s been five months and we’re just thrilled to see it open. You know, hopefully our customers will come back.”
Rookie’s “lost a lot of money” during the project, Bradshaw said, because the main entrance to Rookie’s was blocked by the chain link fences that enclosed the parking lot during construction.
“Hopefully now people will come out and check it out and see how beautiful it is and, you know, come back to Rookie’s; we miss them,” she said.
The larger patio constructed adjacent to the parking lot, she said, may be used by several establishments for outdoor dining in the spring.
“Halleluiah,” said Mary Alice Meinersman at Bon Bons Chocolatier. “That’s the way we feel. We are so happy.”
Steve Stone at neighboring business Title Boxing was outspoken throughout the construction project, working with town officials to address merchant concerns; but now, the chain link fences are gone and the pavement is smooth.
“I guess it’s true that miracles do happen during Christmas,” Stone said.
But for most merchants, he said, the feeling of having the parking lot back is more one of relief than one of extreme happiness.
“We’re never ever going to be able to recoup [the business we lost in the past six months],” he said.
Through the project, the town set out to make such improvements as resurfacing, installing a bioswale drainage system and adding spaces.
“It [the parking lot] has not been redone since practically it was built in the 1950s,” town spokesman A.J. Carter told Long Islander News during phase one.