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LIRR issues

Dear Editor,
Besides the noise from work at the Bayside LIRR rail yard (“Another push to shut down work at Bayside Yard” – July 28), there are also ongoing problems at the Bayside Long Island Rail Road Station that impact several thousand dally riders.
I give the LIRR full credit for installation of new concrete ties and ballasts. This will insure a safer and more comfortable ride. They have also recently completed repairs to sections of the westbound platform edge.
However, there is still other significant outstanding maintenance and repair work to be done.
The original wooden support beams for various sections of the canopy have deteriorated. Pigeons have moved into the rotting bottom section of the westbound canopy stairs roof.
Other portions of the canopy roof are also in need of repair. The metal structure supporting the overpass connecting the east and westbound platforms has begun accumulating rust.
There is also a hole in one of the eastbound staircases.
Why does the LIRR allow these issues to grow even worse? When will the necessary repairs to these structural deficiencies be dealt with and completed?
Sincerely,
Larry Penner
Great Neck

Another push to shut down work at Bayside yard

Bayside residents have had enough of a yard the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) has been using as a “temporary” staging site for overnight construction work on the Port Washington line for the at least the past six years.
Neighbors of the rail yard say they are often woken up several times a night by the work and loud diesel engines pulling in and out of the yard.
In addition to the noise, residents contend the site is being used to store flammable chemicals and other potentially hazardous materials.
“This is not a safe situation for any of us, it’s beyond inappropriate,” said Karen Digiacomo, who lives next door to the yard on 217th Street just south of 40th Avenue. “All of this has been done with complete disregard for us. We have been more than patient.”
Digiacomo said if the LIRR fails to take action, her and her neighbors have discussed filing a class action lawsuit.
Stephen Panagiotakis moved to his house on 218th Street next to the yard one year ago with his wife and two small sons. The overnight noise is a nuisance, he said, but so are the trucks entering and leaving the site all day long.
“There are trucks barreling down 40th Avenue,” he said.
Tony Avella, the Democratic nominee for City Council, said when he was last in office as a state senator in 2018 he spoke with LIRR president Phillip Eng about the issue.
“Eng promised to reduce activity, but now it’s worse than ever,” Avella said at a rally with residents on Monday calling on the LIRR to end activity at the site.
Assemblyman Ed Braunstein said he also sent a letter to Eng and the LIRR about the issue in 2017, suggesting the agency find an alternative site for the staging work. He suggested moving the operation to Willets Point, a far-less residential area mostly surrounded by Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. He followed up again in 2019.
“The people in this neighborhood have been tortured by the Long Island Railroad for long enough,” Braunstein said earlier this week. “People do not deserve to live like this.”
Representatives from the MTA and LIRR did not respond to requests for comment.
While the LIRR has been unresponsive in the past, Avella said this time around they might have an ace up their sleeve. On Sunday night, Avella said Senator Chuck Schumer called to congratulate him on his primary win, and asked if there was anything Schumer could help with.
Avella mentioned the issues at the Bayside yard, and Schumer said he would reach out to LIRR officials to discuss the matter. Avella said Schumer’s help is important because many train operations are overseen by federal agencies.
“Having the senate majority leader on your side is a big deal,” Avella said.

Farmers market brings fresh food to Laurelton

For years, Dianna Rose walked by the parking lot of the LIRR station in Laurelton and wondered why there was never a farmers market in the space. In her mind’s eye, Rose saw beautiful white tents filled with vendors selling flowers, produce, and everything in between.
Last year, that vision became a reality when Rose launched the Laurelton Farmers Market, the first Black-run farmers market in Southeast Queens. Now in its second year, the market brings flowers, food, and community to the residential neighborhood.
“Our mission statement is to cultivate community and to be a place where community grows,” Rose explained in an interview this past week. “The Laurelton Farmers market was cultivated because of our community and the lack of access to farm fresh produce and homemade small batch products.
“I love a good farmers market, and I just didn’t understand why Laurleton didn’t have one,” she added.
Rose had the idea to call the railroad directly to see if they would support her dream. She was put in contact with various different departments before finally connecting with someone who supported the idea. The LIRR became an official partner to the project and continues to help it develop.
Simultaneously, Rose worked to pitch the idea to her community by posting about it in The BlaQue Resource Network Facebook Group.
“I said ‘hey, who would like to see a farmers market in Laurelton’ and the response was amazing,” said Rose. “We knew it was gonna be a success. The community had already seen the vision.”
Despite the widespread support, the Laurelton Farmers Market’s inaugural season was complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The biggest hurdle we had last year was getting farmers to come to the market,” Rose explained. “Many farmers were already booked at markets or didn’t have the capacity to support additional markets. This year we are proud to say we don’t have that issue.”
The market launched its second season on May 15 with a wide selection of produce, seafood, flowers, meat from an on-site butcher, and handicrafts from various artisans.
“Now people are coming and seeing what they expect,” said Rose. “It has been such a beautiful response and people keep coming back.”
The Laurelton Farmers Market has also found support from many of Queens’ elected officials. Rose thanked State Senator Leroy Comrie for being particularly supportive of the market and for helping to secure the LIRR partnership.
Borough President Donovan Richards and Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz are also both supporters and frequent visitors of the market as well.
Rose is confident that the market will help support the local community and business. She is particularly excited by the market’s partnership with Ernest Foods, the first Black-owned organic supermarket in Jamaica.
Ernest Foods is set to open its brick-and-mortar location this summer and has already begun selling produce at the Laurelton market.
Rose also has plans to open two new markets throughout Queens this summer. A market in St. Albans is set to open in June followed by a Queens Village market in July. The new locations will also be in the parking lots of LIRR stations thanks to the partnership.
After the success of the Laurelton Farmers Market, Rose is hopeful that more people will be inspired to take on similar endeavors.
“I’ve had maybe ten people call me since launching the farmers market last year, whether it’s a community group or an individual, who say that they always wanted to do a farmers market. People are unsure and don’t know where to start, so it helps to see that it’s been done before. It’s motivating.”
The Laurelton Farmers Market is open every Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the parking lot of the Laurelton LIRR station. Interested vendors can apply at laureltonfarmersmarket.com.

More information about the market is available on Instagram (@sovereignmarkets) and Facebook (@laureltonfarmersmarket).

Station neglect

Dear Editor,
There are ongoing problems at the Bayside Long Island Rail Road Station that impact several thousand dally riders.
I give the LIRR credit for installation of new concrete ties and ballast that will insure a safer and more comfortable ride. They have also recently completed repairs to sections of the westbound platform edge, but there is still other significant outstanding maintenance and repair work to be done.
The original wooden support beams for various sections of the canopy have deteriorated, and pigeons have moved into the rotting bottom section of the westbound canopy stairs roof.
Other portions of the canopy roof are also in need of repair. Pigeons droppings can be seen at the bottom of the westbound stairs and second set of stairs for the eastbound platform.
The metal structure supporting the overpass connecting the east and westbound platforms is accumulating rust. There is also a hole in one of the eastbound steel staircases.
Pigeons have also found a second home in the hole on the roof over the ticket office facing the platform.
Why has the LIRR waited so long to allow these issues to grow even worse?
Sincerely,
Larry Penner
Great Neck

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