The New York State Department of Transportation is designing a $130 million project to hopefully improve a portion of Nassau Expressway, which is also known as state Route 878. Included are upgrades for the road’s drainage system, adding a path for pedestrians and bicyclists and widening the road itself. These changes nearly forced Kenneth and Keith Graham to move their business, the Garden Gallery in Inwood.
At a meeting held by the DOT in June the twin brothers’ permit was going to be terminated, forcing them to leave the site at the intersection of Bay Boulevard and 878 nearly immediately. They were shocked as they had been given no prior notice and while other businesses were to lose some property due to the project, they were the only ones being evicted.
“Our family has been here since 1996,” said Kenneth, who took the business over from his father with his brother about eight years ago. “We put a lot of time, energy and money into this location.”
The lack of any warning made the situation even worse. It was summer and it was in the middle of their busy season. Had the DOT told them earlier in the year, they could have scaled down and prepared for a move, but the situation forced them to search for somewhere to go without much luck.
Speaking with State Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) at the June meeting turned out to be lucky for the brothers. For the past few months, Kaminsky worked with the DOT to help ensure they wouldn’t have to move, and checking back with them every couple weeks to let them know the status of their situation.
“I was glad to fight for the Garden Gallery,” he said. “Small businesses are the heart of our local economies.”
Garden Gallery is staying put, but there will be some changes and inconveniences when the project gets underway. Stephen Canzoneri, a DOT spokesman in the Long Island regional office said, “The nursery will remain in place. We will remain in contact with the owner of the nursery and all businesses in the area to minimize the impact during this improvement project to bring a better Nassau Expressway to the Five Towns.”
Thankful that someone helped them, Kenneth said, “We couldn’t ask for anything move of a public official.”
Not having to move the business is a major relief to them, and their families. “It’s a family owned business, and on top of that it’s our livelihood, “Keith said. “To be able to continue the family business definitely means a lot.”