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Board 13 approves new garage at LIJ

Community Board 13 approved the construction of a seven-level parking garage for Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, but it attached several important conditions reflecting the concerns of neighborhood residents.

In other business at the Monday night meeting in Queens Village, the board turned down an expansion request by a southeast Queens van service and approved an effort to rename a Cambria Heights street in honor of a school crossing guard. Councilman David Weprin (D-Hollis) spoke briefly on efforts underway at City Hall and in Albany to balance the city budget.

By a vote of 32-0 with four abstentions, the board adopted a resolution endorsing LIJ's garage construction project and allowing the use of attended parking. Attended parking, in which garage workers park cars in order to use space more efficiently, would increase the capacity of the new garage from 1,100 to 1,600 spaces and the existing garage from 900 to 1,200.

In giving LIJ the green light, board members signaled their agreement with the hospital's argument that the new garage would alleviate the problem of hospital workers, patients and relatives parking on neighborhood side streets.

But the board also stipulated that LIJ explore the option of building an access road to connect with Marcus Avenue on the Nassau County side of the complex. Such an access road would reduce traffic on the side streets of New Hyde Park, but previous attempts by the hospital to obtain the necessary land were unsuccessful.

The community board also asked that access to the campus via 74th Avenue be restricted to hospital employees, and that free or low-cost parking on campus be offered to workers and visitors of long-term patients.

Finally, the board requested that LIJ set up an advisory board consisting of members of the surrounding communities, to be consulted on future projects.

The resolution was adopted despite strong opposition from the Lost Community Civic Association, which represents homeowners in New Hyde Park, Glen Oaks and Floral Park.

"I don't think they made the conditions prerequisites," Lost Community President Oscar Berenberg said in an interview. "They made it like an option, whereas we wanted it as a clause."

Berenberg, in remarks to the board, said attended parking would make the garage too expensive for many motorists, and Queens was absorbing more than its fair share of the traffic headed to and from the hospital, which spans Queens and Nassau counties.

Bernie Brandt, Lost Community's vice president, re-emphasized the need for a Marcus Avenue connection and mocked the opposition of the residents of North Shore Towers, whose golf course would abut such a road.

"You can't run a road along 74th Avenue because it will intoxicate (their) golf balls," he said.

Berenberg, who is not a community board member, said it was particularly galling to see some of his neighbors who are members voting 'yes' or abstaining.

"Somebody didn't have the guts enough to say 'no'," Berenberg said.

Following the discussion and vote, the board rejected a request by Cedi Transportation Service, which operates vans in Rosedale and Laurelton, to add three vehicles to their existing fleet of 20.

"There are far too many van services," said Rich Hellenbrecht, chairman of the community board, noting also that the area already had a wealth of public transportation options.

But the board supported an effort to rename part of 221st Street between 115th Road and 115th Avenue for Betty Davis, a school crossing guard who worked there for nine years. State Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans) requested the renaming and Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) intends to bring the matter before the Council.

Weprin made a brief appearance, telling the board about efforts underway to close the city budget gap. He said the addition of video slot machines to off-track betting parlors was "controversial" but also something the city should consider. He urged the legislature would reinstate the commuter tax in some form, but admitted hopes were dim.

Weprin also said he was dead-set against options such as closing firehouses or setting up East River tolls, calling the latter a tax on Brooklyn and Queens.

Reach reporter Alex Ginsberg by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 157.

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