Written by Eric Holden Friday, 24 February 2012 00:00
Nassau County is conducting an alternatives analysis to address transportation needs in the central part of the county and representatives from the Nassau County Planning Commission (NCPC) presented the main components of the study to local residents at the Carle Place Civic Association meeting on Feb. 15.
The study focuses on the Nassau Hub, which contains many of the iconic areas people associate with Nassau County such as the Roosevelt Field Mall, Hofstra University, Nassau Community College, Museum Row, Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, the County Government Center and Eisenhower Park. The Hub has long been an area with heavy traffic and other transportation problems.At the Feb. 15 meeting, Nassau Planning Department rep Aryeh Lemberger said, “If we do nothing, traffic is going to continue to grow. Based on what we already know, traffic generally increases by 1.5 percent each year. If we have any development, then it gets worse. We’ve heard clearly that traffic is an issue, and that there needs to be some alternatives to using your automobile in and around this study area.”
Theoretically, the Nassau Hub Study will define new transportation options and identify land use strategies that will help promote economic development, create jobs in the study area and improve access and mobility, which will enhance the quality of life for all Nassau County residents, said a Hub Study representative.
Recent studies by the department identified problems of growing roadway congestion, a limited transit system, slowed population growth and an overall stagnation of economic growth in the county. Additionally, these studies identified strategies for directing growth to existing downtowns and targeted development areas, including the Nassau Hub Study Area, as well as encouraging the use of public transit as a means of supporting growth without further exacerbating traffic congestion.
Planning Department reps said at the meeting, “We’re looking to see if there’s a need for an improved transit service within this area. We’re not looking at today, we’re looking at the future as well.”
The Planning Department rep added that this new transit system would not necessarily be free to ride on, but no pricing has been established as of yet since the concept is still in the study phase.
Lemberger added that his team is keeping a close watch on new developments on the Nassau Coliseum property, while continuing to move ahead with the original plans regardless of what becomes of the land.
“If the county develops the Coliseum property, no matter what is put there, it makes sense to put transit there,” he said, adding, “On the other hand, transit can be a catalyst for economic development. It’s been proven across the country in many different places – including Jersey City – that transit investment can spur economic development. Businesses want to locate where they know their workers can get there as easily as possible.”
One of the top options being looked at for the hub is a streetcar route, similar to the systems in place in major cities like Toronto, Tampa and Portland. “What we heard from the business community is that they prefer the streetcar also,” Lemberger said. “The simple reason is that the streetcar is a fixed asset. There’s set tracks in the road, and that’s attractive to business. They want to know that that transit system is going to be there in the long run.”
Several Carle Place residents told the planning reps that they felt a new transit system cutting through the area would only make traffic worse and turn the quaint Carle Place hamlet into a crowded Jersey City-like atmosphere.
Carle Place Civic Association Vice President Nancy Ann Jarvis, a staunch opponent of the plan, spoke out against one of the ideas being discussed in the plan - a new train station in Carle Place.
“I can assure you the residents of Carle Place are very strong,” she said. “From my experience, I can tell you that the residents of this community do not want a new station here. I think that would bring more public transportation to our small community, and I think it would ruin our little hamlet. We preserve that with all integrity.”
The next Carle Place Civic Association meeting is March 21.