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Village Board Encouraged by Talks With Garden City and Verizon

Senior VP of Verizon Meets with Garden City

Mayor Jack M. Martins revealed that Mineola and Garden City officials met at the Verizon plant last Wednesday to hash out the issues that have been inconveniencing the residents of 13th Avenue since last December. He also disclosed that Garden City met with the senior vice president of Verizon who is authorized to have substantive discussions regarding screening and putting sound attenuation around the objects on the roof that are making noise.

The Board of Trustees announced at its April 21 meeting that it was going to meet with Garden City at the plant. Those talks spawned the reaching out to the senior vice president.

“I met with the mayor [of Garden City] and the Superintendent of Buildings [Michael Filippon] and we discussed the circumstances out there,” Martins said. “They acknowledged there was a concern, and they would be reaching out to Verizon to ask them to voluntarily address the issue. Verizon’s local manager for that facility said he did not have the authority to go beyond that which was required in the permitting for the work that was done there.”

Garden City took the additional step of requesting that a person of higher authorization meet with them. The senior vice president went to the plant to assess the noise last Wednesday.

“They asked that the senior vice president from Verizon meet with them,” Martins iterated. “It happened [on May 5] and the person came in and tested the facility and saw firsthand the noise and is going to remediate the situation.”

The question now is what form of remediation will take shape? Martins stated that Garden City has gotten commitments from Verizon and that they will be hiring a consultant to evaluate the best way to negate the noise in that area. He feels that these developments will lead to a solid solution and that Mineola is prepared to hire a consultant as well.

“I will be exploring that during the next few days and I’ll come back to the board with suggestions before our next meeting,” he said. “They’ve been receptive to us thus far. We’ve been able to participate directly in discussions with Garden City. They have invited us to be active participants as far as evaluating the noise. It’s incumbent upon us now to focus on that.”

Martins thinks that having two consultants involved will speed up the process of putting a solution on paper. “They’re going to hire a consultant and we should be prepared to hire a consultant so that we can evaluate their proposal and that they can evaluate ours as well,” he said.

On April 22, Anton Community Newspapers learned the board sent a recorded copy of the previous Mineola board meeting to Garden City to give them an idea of what residents were going through. This prompted them to go to the plant and survey the property themselves. According to Martins, that yielded a great response.

“If that was what prompted them to go there, then great,” he said. “I think that firsthand viewing or hearing really allowed this thing to move forward more quickly than it had in the past. As much as we would like to relay the various iterations we hear [at Village Hall], certainly something could be lost in translation.”

Resident John Ferriera, who has been a fixture on the Verizon issue since complaints began, said at last Wednesday’s board meeting that putting screens around the objects that are making noise isn’t enough and that more drastic measures need to be taken. Ferriera told the Mineola American that he has retained legal council and has spoken with his attorney as early as May 4.

“The reality is, now that everyone agrees that there is a problem, retaining the consultants, having them go out and evaluate the issues and coming up with necessary alternatives to screens, that may take some time,” Martins concluded. “There is an active dialogue and we’re trying to handle the situation amicably.”

Last week, Ferriera dialed 911 saying that smoke was coming into a neighbor’s backyard. The Mineola Fire Department responded, along with Garden City Police and other authorities thinking there was an actual fire. Mayor Martins asked that no one call 911 unless there’s a serious emergency.

“Let’s not play games,” he said. He went on to say that it’s unsafe to have firetrucks and police cars on the road, considering they have to move so fast and risk the possibility of an accident; and if there’s no real emergency, it puts servicemen and innocent people in harm’s way.

Many of the residents who have been protesting the handling of the situation surrounding the Verizon plant have made their voices heard. The residents want justice, but that may not be the wisest cause of action.

“I can understand the frustration that we hear there and they want us to go in with guns blazing but that would be the wrong step to take,” the mayor stated. “The reality is it would take longer to get things done if we do that. I’m looking for a logical solution to the problem.”

The next board meeting is tonight at Village Hall on Washington Avenue in Mineola.