After years of permit applications, construction and traffic studies, the Oceanside Costco opened on Aug. 23 to great fanfare and with few issues. The 156,000-square-foot Hampton Road wholesale warehouse had raised concern among locals over the traffic disruptions it would cause on Lawson and Daly boulevards, but in the days after its grand opening, those worries appear unfounded.
“I honestly expected back-to-back traffic,” said County Legislator Denise Ford, who monitored the situation in the lead-up to the opening. She added that she was looking into extending Nassau Inter-County Express bus service to the area, which had previously seen little traffic. There have been few disruptions caused by the new megastore, but Ford said that her office would continue looking into possible infrastructure modifications. “Now that it’s opened, we have an opportunity to see what needs to be done,” she said.
“Knock on wood,” she said hopefully. “So far, so good.”
At the grand opening, amid the early-morning crush of residents picking up household items in bulk, the Coffman family, pushing a cart filled with milk, cookies, paper plates and towels, shopped for a jacket for their 2 1/2-year-old, Ella. Ben and Evelyn Coffman said they were excited about the store’s proximity to their home in nearby Ocean Harbor. “We used to drive to Westbury,” Ben said of a Costco 13 miles away. “Now we could walk here.”
Island Park Chamber of Commerce member Michael Ostrander picked up Ziploc bags. “It’s very convenient — instead of going to Westbury,” he said. Ostrander planned to get his tires replaced at the store soon and was looking forward to buying gas there, which has been advertised as 15 cents cheaper than surrounding gas stations. The store’s eight-pump facility is slated to open by Sept. 6, according to Costco Wholesale’s regional marketing manager, Cathy Wanklin.
“It’s great something nice was put here,” Ostrander added. “It used to be an oil depot.”
The warehouse employs 250 local residents. Rockville Centre native Wayne Izzo said he decided to work at the store after a 43-year career as a Verizon telephone worker. “I tried the retired life,” he said. “It’s a little overrated.” Izzo said that the company treats its employees well and that he appreciates the stability the job provides. “I’m gonna be here till I’m dead,” he added.
Sandra Webb, of Baldwin, is a transfer employee from Costco’s Lawrence location, seven miles west. She worked there for almost a decade. “It’s hard work,” she said, “but it’s fun.”
Maria Heller, a former Oceanside Chamber of Commerce president, said she was impressed by the store, which she described as “beautiful.” “There were a lot of red jackets around helping you,” she said of the employees. “Let’s hope they do well.”
Heller added that parking could be an issue, noting that on opening day, cars were backed up on Lawson as they waited to make the turn onto Daly. But citing Kohl’s, Victoria’s Secret and Bed Bath & Beyond, she reasoned that an additional corporate store in Oceanside ultimately benefits residents. “It really is a plus for the community that people don’t have to go outside of Oceanside to do their shopping,” she said.
The Hempstead Town Board approved the company’s application to build the warehouse in 2014. (Costco has more than 700 locations worldwide.) Addressing concerns raised in a traffic impact study mandated by the county, Costco added a right-turn signal at the intersection of Lawson and Daly boulevards in June for cars turning onto Daly as they enter the warehouse’s parking lot.
In June 2014, the company applied to the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency for tax breaks. In January, however, IDA Executive Director Joseph Kierney revealed that the application was never reviewed. According to Town of Hempstead records, nearly $140,000 in school and general taxes has been collected from Costco so far. However, the store’s annual tax burden this year will not be known until the county updates its assessment records in September.
In addition to the standard amenities available at most of its warehouse locations, the Oceanside store features a tire installation garage and a beer, wine and liquor emporium, the first of its kind in New York state, Wanklin said.
The corporation obtained a liquor license in 2016 from the now defunct Corks Wines and Spirits in the Sands Shopping Center, according to New York State Liquor Authority records. Wanklin said that because of the license, it was the first location in New York to have an in-store Costco-brand alcohol selection.
Residents responding to a Herald inquiry on Facebook about the traffic on Lawson and Daly after the store’s opening said they had not encountered any problems. Of the 10 respondents, two said they had noticed that the parking lot was crowded, but otherwise raised no concerns.
On the Facebook group Oceanside Costco Complain Here, however, there were a number of comments about traffic and the potential effect on local businesses. Heller, who said that resident complaints were common for any corporate store opening, acknowledged that there were benefits and drawbacks to the presence of a Costco.
“It’s progress,” she said. “I don’t like change, but change has to be.”