March 12, 2018
On Monday, March 5, 2018, Village officials met with representatives from the LIRR and 3TC, the design-build firm that has been awarded the third track project. The objective of the meeting was to introduce us to the design-build team and level set on expectations for the project as it impacts the New Hyde Park community.
Accompanying me at the meeting from the Village was Deputy Mayor Donna Squicciarino; Village Clerk – Treasurer Cathryn Hillmann; Superintendent of Buildings and Public Works, Tom Gannon and Village Attorney, Peter Trentacoste.
We shared directly with the design-build firm the concerns that have been expressed by Village residents over the last 24 months since the project was announced. We discussed how the Governor’s office and the LIRR has agreed to address these concerns in our MOU and the expectations that those commitments have flowed down to 3TC.
Having reviewed the request for proposal and the bid documents for the contract, I was confident that those commitments have not been lost. The resulting contract between the LIRR and 3TC will be shared with the Village to provide further transparency. Meanwhile, we were pleased to hear that the design-build firm was very aware and conversant in those commitments and they became the topic of our meeting.
One of our chief concerns was to maintain a high level of awareness of what is going on with the project as it affects New Hyde Park.
Included in the 3TC consortium is the firm of Rubenstein Associates who is responsible for developing and implementing the communications plan and public outreach. Rubenstein is assisted by the firm CJ2, who will deploy two Community Ambassadors as our point of contact for all issues that arise. The public outreach plan has begun as CJ2 has already had a follow up meeting with Village Clerk-Treasurer, Kate Hillmann. Kate provided names and contact information for local organizations that will be helpful in reaching people who are likely to be affected.
CJ2 will also establish the 24 hour, 7 day a week hotline number to call with any problems. This number will be displayed on the Village web site, on the electronic sign board and on banners in the area of the LIRR. For example, 3TC plans to hang a banner on the Safety Storage building they recently took possession of.
3TC will provide the Village with a four week look ahead plan of the activities that will happen in our area. The four-week plan will be updated weekly.
In the next four weeks, we can expect to see the following activities:
- Clearing of vegetation along the right of way
- Soil borings
- Digging test pits to confirm the location of underground utilities
- Preconstruction surveys of nearby homes and other structures
- Surveying of land in and around the main line
We have also agreed to establish weekly meetings with the Village to provide a forum to share information in both directions.
Another key area of concern was that the Village continues to have input into the planning of important aspects of the project that have great impact on New Hyde Park. We identified Superintendent of Buildings and Public Works, Tom Gannon as the Village point of contact on technical matters. Tom has already participated in a meeting with Nassau County DPW and 3TC concerning how drainage will be accomplished at the Covert Avenue crossing. I am happy to report that the most intrusive option of building new drain lines to the recharge basin on Stewart Avenue across from Nuzzi Field will not be pursued.
The Village is likely to engage the services of an engineering firm to provide us with opinions of the potential impact of design elements. The expense for those services would be reimbursed by the LIRR from the community benefit fund we negotiated.
There will be another meeting with the utilities to discuss how power lines will be addressed. The Village strenuously opposes the notion of erecting large steel utility poles along the right of way. We feel this will be a great detriment to the suburban character of our Village. We have been pressing the LIRR and the utilities to explore burying the power lines as an alternative.
We will provide input to and review a traffic plan that will be prepared by 3TC to handle the traffic through our Village when work begins. This is a major concern. We are very interested to begin this work.
One of the concerns we shared with the Governor’s office and the LIRR during our negotiations, was that Village has input in how well the design-build firm is fulfilling their commitments. We insisted that some form of liquidated damages or financial incentive be included in the LIRR contract to compel the design-build firm to honor the commitments in our MOU with the LIRR. The result is that the Village will provide a written evaluation of the design build firm’s performance. This input will determine the extent to which the design build firm will receive a substantial financial incentive each quarter.
The mechanism for this is for specific Village residents who are most affected to complete a survey every three months. Please contact Kate Hillmann at email@example.com if you are interested in being a delegate to provide this important input.
Input on Design Elements
Another critical area of concern for us continues to be how the project will look after it is built. We have stressed all along that this project must be done so that it does not harm the suburban character of our village. There is an opportunity to have a finished product that enhances that character. We are determined to see that happen.
We shared our plans to redevelop our industrial zone along 2nd and 3rd Avenues into a revitalized center of our community with retail shops, cafes and attractions coupled with new residential properties. We described our plan to adopt a common colonial style throughout the district. It is our intention to have the new LIRR platform and structures reflect that style and create a visually appealing transition.
If we are successful, this may very well become the model for state and local government collaboration that Governor Cuomo seeks this project to be.
To this end, today I signed a $5,000,000 grant application to launch this part of the project.
Other Items Covered
3TC also shared that the decision has been made to demolish the taxi maintenance depot at 124 Covert Avenue. The land will be used by the contractor for staging equipment and building the bridge structure that will support the railroad tracks over Covert Avenue. The property will be returned to the owner when the project is completed.
We also discussed other key elements of the project including parking, staging areas and identification of construction workers. Other topics of the project will be discussed at future meetings.
All in all, we struck a collaborative tone with 3TC. We agreed that we share mutual goals of completing this project safely, and on time and with minimal impact to the people of New Hyde Park.
Nevertheless, we are clearly embarking on a project whose scope and drain on Village resources is truly unprecedented. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation in the weeks and months ahead as we manage the effects of this project. We will continue to do what is best for New Hyde Park.
Lawrence J. Montreuil
Mayor, Village of New Hyde Park