Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the MTA’s third track project is still chugging along through local communities after Governor Andrew Cuomo declared the third track project was an essential service.
In recent weeks, as many neighbors of the Merillon Avenue LIRR station in Garden City and surrounding communities remained home due to the state’s stay-at-home orders, they witnessed PSEG Long Island constructing poles, which are reported to be as large at 120-feet with more than 93 feet visible aboveground, from the view of their backyards and porches.
Last week, Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin, Assemblyman Ed Ra, Nassau County Legislator Laura Schaefer, councilmen Tom Muscarella and Dennis Dunne, Sr. stood with neighbors in the village to call on the MTA LIRR and Third Track Constructors (3TC) to remove the poles and consider alternatives. They also urged the LIRR to halt construction of all gigantic utility poles along the main line.
Clavin, Muscarella and Dunne wrote a letter to the LIRR on June 16 in opposition of the poles in part saying to conform to the original plans or to devise an alternative that is acceptable to residents.
“Whatever happens, all we are asking for now is for 3TC to temporarily halt construction of the poles and revisit other options,” Clavin said. “These communities should not have to stare at monster poles in front of their homes if there are other alternatives. We need to put a stop to it now.”
3TC explained that there were late design changes to the size and location of at least four poles, which are located adjacent to the Merillon Avenue station at Nassau Boulevard and Weyford Terrace. 3TC, who are the design-build contractors for the project, said that the approval of the design change for the poles was not required since the poles are owned by PSEG-LI that are placed within LIRR property.
On April 8, the village’s Third Track Committee of the Board of Trustees sent a letter to the MTA/LIRR raising grievances to how the project had been progressing.
In the letter, the village raised concerns over many project-related issues, including the fact that it was never asked or consulted with the placement of the four to five metal 120-foot high utility poles between the bridge at Nassau Boulevard and Weyford Terrace. The village said that it was their understanding based on prior MTA/LIRR representations that “all poles west of Nassau Boulevard to New Hyde Park Road would be on the north side of the main line.”
The village asserted that the installation of the poles is in direct conflict with prior discussions with the village and the EIS for the third track project. The village has also retained legal counsel—Beveridge and Diamond—to assist it with reviewing its options with respect to the placement of the utility poles along the third track. If the board determines to pursue legal action, it would need to protect possible legal arguments and advice that it receives, and therefore the board will not discuss many matters in public.