Richmond Hill LIRR site to get $75,000 overhaul

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State Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn (D-Fresh Meadows) has secured $75,000 from the state Legislature to remove trash and other debris from the closed Richmond Hill Long Island Rail Road station and install high security fencing, her chief of staff said.

The triangular property on Hillside Avenue, Lefferts Boulevard and Babbage Street, just north of Jamaica Avenue, became part of Mayersohn’s assembly district Jan. 1 because of state redistricting.

“Nettie reached out to the LIRR probably about two months ago,” said Michael Simanowitz, the legislator’s chief of staff. “This is capital money being made available specifically for MTA projects.”

He said Mayersohn and the LIRR have since been working on estimates to clean up the property that since 1993 has been vacant. The railroad station closed in 1998 but had been leased by Simonson’s Funeral Home and used as a customer parking lot.

The funeral home’s lease of the property ended, according to the co-owner John Sommese, because the MTA told him trestles that supported the train platform were weakening.

Community Board 9 District Manager Mary Ann Carey said the site had attracted homeless people, who contributed to the accumulation of trash and debris under the railroad tracks. She said homeless people had been coming to sleep and socialize at the triangle for more than 20 years .

“I think it’s wonderful — we’re very, very grateful,” Carey said. “This is a nice way for (Mayersohn) to introduce herself to the community.”

Other civic leaders agreed.

“It’s about time — it’s a beautiful historic area and it should be maintained,” said Nancy Cataldi, president of the Richmond Hill Historical Society.

Sam Zambuto, spokesman for the LIRR, said there is no exact time frame on when the MTA will install the high-security fence and hold a simultaneous cleanup at the Richmond Hill site. He said the new fence will be made from a stronger material than the previous one and no security cameras will be installed at the site.

He said he was unaware that any cleanup had been held at the old LIRR station even though another spokesman, Brian Dolan, had said in October that the MTA was scheduling one.

Carey said the triangle is in the middle of a proposed city historic district, which would include the newly landmarked Republican Club building, Richmond Hill Library and Simonson’s Funeral Home. Carey, however, said she was not aware of any recent effort by the LIRR to clean up the site.

“I can’t tell you how many years we’ve had problems with that location,” Community Board 9 District Manager Mary Ann Carey said. “We have that constant blight on the area, it’s really a shame.”

Carey said Mayersohn’s act will help improve the area that is trying to become a historic district within the city.

“I don’t understand why the LIRR is not responsible to keep its areas clean. I don’t have the staff to go out and check, but we get complaints from the community all the time,” Carey said. “When you have that much garbage, it just attracts more garbage,” Carey said.

Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at or by phone at 229-0300, Ext. 156

Updated 10:26 am, October 12, 2011
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