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Increased LIRR Parking Fees Mask Management Issues

I have been commuting on the Long Island Railroad for more than 40 years.

I sweltered in the old diesel trains during the dog days of summer. I sat in frigid cold cars during the dead of winter. I remember smoking cars, bar cars and college classroom cars.  I recall Montauk-bound cars with large wicker lounge chairs and vested waiters serving gin-and tonic to weekend revelers.

I can still hear the bantering that surrounded raucous card games played atop “borrowed” advertising posters. My mind’s eye even sees Dashing Dan on the side of every car.

I do not regret my time on the train.  I made many friends there; composed more than one successful sales presentation and saved years of wear-and-tear on my car.

If I use my current property tax as a barometer of the relative levies that I’ve paid over the last four decades, I estimate that our family has funded the calculated equivalent of more than $1,100,000 in real estate taxes since 1968.

Yes, more than ONE MILLION DOLLARS!

That’s a sizeable chunk of change.

Over the last ten years or so, I have watched the steady decline of the parking garages at the Huntington LIRR Station.  Maintenance at the two facilities – save for a few strokes of a paint to cover graffiti; the placement of lolly columns to shore-up the crumbling concrete; and the installation of charging stations for the few electric cars that are used by commuters – has been non-existent.

These two garages are major assets of the Town but they have been allowed to crumble into disrepair. In fact, the February 9, 2009 Desman Associates report commissioned by the Town clearly illustrated that the South Structure was in “fair to poor condition.”  The report went on to say that the “structure is experiencing age and corrosion related deterioration that should be addressed in order to prevent major structural issues in the future.”

Desman’s analysis continued with pages of structural concerns and remedial recommendations.  But today, nearly 4 years later, the garages continue to erode.  Nothing; – literally NOTHING – has been done to address the problems identified by the consulting team.

The deterioration of the parking garages is a blatant illustration of Town management’s lack of basic administrative acumen. It’s a failure of enormous financial and managerial proportions.  And now that the decline has reached the crisis stage, the bureaucrats are trying to bury their failures in a classic knee-jerk reaction. They are attempting to raise the user fees to astronomical levels in the hope that their failure to maintain the structures will not be felt by the entire tax-paying community; – only the LIRR commuters whose voices are not loud enough to cause embarrassment.

It is curious to this commuter that during this extended period of managerial failure, the Town Board has found money to fund far less important (some might say “frivolous”) projects.

For example . . . .

They decided that hand laying hundreds of thousands of red bricks on the sidewalks of Route 25A and Route 110 from Huntington Village all the way into Huntington Station was more important than maintaining an asset that is worth tens of millions of dollars.

They concluded that purchasing hybrid buses with multi-six figure price tags and allowing them to meander up and down Route 110 with only a handful of passengers on each trip is a more prudent expenditure than maintaining an asset that accommodates thousands of commuters every day.  Have we any idea what it costs to operate those buses on an annual basis?

They determined that placing a mini-park in front of a pawn shop and an auto parts store on Route 110 in Huntington Station is a better use of Town funds than maintaining the single-most important asset that LIRR commuters have at their disposal. They have decreed that stretching our school, road and public service infra-structure to its breaking point by allowing dense housing on East 5th Street is a smarter choice than maintaining the LIRR parking garage. And even as this story is written, they have decided that installing a waterfall at the entrance to the LIRR Ticket Lobby parking lot is a better use of our precious funds than maintaining the parking garage.

We could all go on with these examples ad-nausea. The errors, imprudent decisions, fool-hardy expenditures, inappropriate choices and blatant mistakes that this Administration and its managerial staff have made over the years are mountainous.

And now they come before us, legislative sledge-hammer in hand, and seek to raise the LIRR garage parking fee to $600 per annum. Their plan is downright offensive.

Most commuters do not make the daily trek to New York City because we WANT to. We commute because we HAVE to.

Generally, we are wage earners who can only maintain our Huntington properties and their overwhelming tax burdens, by seeking employment in a major metropolitan area.  None of us really wants to spend three hours a day commuting.  We would rather spend that time with our family.

Properly maintaining the LIRR parking garage without an overburdening user fee is really just a question of priorities. And the Town’s priorities are clearly at conflict with those of us who pay the financial tab every year.

What’s your opinion?

 

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18 comments to Increased LIRR Parking Fees Mask Management Issues

  • Liquor License Man

    Well argued, and well put.

  • Matt Harris

    How much money does the Town make in rental income from the cell antennas placed on the top deck of the South garage, and does that money go to the garage maintenance, or just into the general fund?

  • general fund=cookie jar

    I can’t wait to see the people being removed from town hall in hand cuffs when the audit is complete.

    Any word on when the audit will be complete?

  • Huntington tax payer

    You also paid a lot less 40 years ago.You get what you ask for.Demands by consumer = Increse in Fee!

  • Denise Roche

    “”Can anything be done at this point?”"

  • Going After the Larger Tax Base

    Agreed. I would bet the highest paying tax base largely make up NYC commuters who bring in larger NYC salaries. I remember when the station was a more a dirt pile that station (pre 1993), and is certainly MUCH better now than it was, and yes, I prefer the garage. But the truth is…the commute isnt all that great from Huntington to NYC. I would much rather drive to the Port Washington line which has many more trains and a much shorter commute (20-25 min drive to Great Neck/Manhasset, 20 min to NYC, shortening commute by 20 min). I don’t do this because they charge around 500-800 a year to park, often in private lots (although I can tell you a number of people from our town pay anyway just for the better commute). You may get a few bites (largely by people in the urban housing across the street who are packing up those small apartments), but most won’t..and all you have is an empty garage, upset commuters who are the largest of the tax base, and STILL…a tax revenue shortage. So this is not a solution.

  • rocket88

    It’s mess I agree but the old adgae holds true. You get what you vote in office. Nothing more, nothing less. A shame.

  • Save Huntington

    HOLD ON! How could anyone forget the Sandy & Susan Berland (aka Dix Hills elitist) Memorial Ice Rink where millions in bond were issued so the priviliged children of Dix Hills could skate. Yes, there are many absurduities in this town and the leadership has spent the last 10+ years lining their pockets to keep it all going.

  • me

    I truly can understand your point with the lack of maintaining the 2 garages especially the south side, we would love nothing more than to have them fixed up. These garages have been neglected since they were built. They are disgusting and the town should be embarrassed how they are kept. But again, it’s in the station so who cares. IMHO is that the garage (south side) is hidden so out of sight out of mind. Same goes for the Hart bus depot, it’s in place where no one cares how it is kept. As for us residents that do not use the train to commute to work, we do appreciate the upgraded sidewalks, the watergarden, the street pole lighting. As for the plaza area, what sickens me is that PIUS is going to be in the middle of this whole project. This is a main station hub and any help to our area is welcomed. The Huntington station area in general has been neglected for years. I also would like to know where the rent money is going for the solar panels that we have to look at every day, I thought they belonged to the town to generate power for the station parking garage. As for Avalon Bay they just threw that one in the station as well. The area around the south side of the train station has not been reconfigured for the traffic pattern since the garage was built. Once Avalon is built it will be worse adding hundreds of more cares into our jammed area already. For us residents that live here (Six blocks radius) we have to tolerate the commuters that visit us only Mon thru Fri. We have to fear our safety everyday because of the fast-pace moving cars entering and exiting the garage especially during rush hours. Try to get out or in our streets during that time is just insane. We did not want this garage but we have to deal with it. Before it was built it was just a small parking lot that our residential area could handle. So for $12 a week it’s a far cry from what we have to deal with everyday.

  • KK

    I would like to add that I have been parking in the south garage for years. I have noticed the deterioation too (as do most of my fellow travelers), and I am almost getting to the point of being afraid to drive in there. When I can, I get a friend to drop me off in the morning. I have seen news stories of parking garages collapsing, so I know all too well this could happen here. This has been the only place where I have read about someone bringing this to the public’s attention. Thank you Justin for this serious wake-up call.

  • me

    I guess the commuters won’t have to worry about the $600 fee it is now S75 to residence and S150 to non-residence. But either way the garages need to be fixed and cleaned up. Unfortunately, we still have to deal with the traffic and the site of the garage with it’s solar panels (South side). Glad to read the commuters will be happy now, it will cost you less then $1.50 to park a week.

  • Mr. Huntington

    Dear ‘ME’…..not sure where you get your information regarding the $75.00 – you are incorrect. It will cost the $75.00 if you want to park OUTSIDE the garage in the gang infested streets around the garage. The $600.00 still stands – sad but true – and until we rise up and take a stand it will be passed and there will be NOTHING we can do after January 1.

  • Hton

    Justin wanted to know, it is $115 per rider per day based on an article posted about the Hart Bus System

  • chickadee

    When I was a commuter I paid $30 a year to park. I got the 5am train. The lot was empty when I got to it in the morning. I am retired now & want to be voted off the island!!! It is absurb what is going on in Huntington Station these days. That “park” that is being built by Olive/NY Ave is just the icing on the cake. I couldn’t believe the brick work along NY Ave. Sure its nice looking now but totally unnecessary. those bricks will probably heave during the winter time. Plain concrete would probably last longer. Someone got a good kickback.

  • criminal

    the brick walkways are put in with grants…grants funded by our tax dollars and then the town acts as if its free money.
    Of course Justin’s $1.1million real estate tax estimate should have been spent on maintainance. Our town boards have continually squandered our actual tax dollars and raise costs/taxes for projects such as this that we have already paid for. Huntington tax payer above just doesnt seem to comprehend that.Yes the tax we paid was less years back and yes the cost of maintaining was less. There was no maintainance so where has that money gone? The parking garage absolutely needs improvements but we should not be nickel and dimed to death. Where has our tax money gone? We have paid for it time and again.

  • chickadee

    When I was commuting to NYC I did not have a NYC salary as I am sure a lot of others don’t. I was a Letter Carrier. I bought my home for $36,500 in the 70s. I am being taxed to death on my limited income. What I pay for taxes per month here now is more than my monthly mortgage with taxes used to be!!! I don’t see what my money is buying for me. I feel like a step child of Huntington Station. I have to call to have my garbage picked up, somehow the garbage men never see it in the street when they pass my house.(It has been out since the night before). I have to call for the “free” leaf bags, never quite make it to my house the first pass…..Have to call to have my papers picked up on recyling day…….I am fed up with the TOH…….Is it too much to expect the job to be done the correct way without a phone call from me????

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