Residents urge safety measures at Baldwin station W.H. weekend service
In anticipating a heavy snowfall in the two-day storm, local transit officials have taken safety precautions in preventing major delays and an easy commute for Long Island residents on Tuesday.
State Assemblyman Brian Curran hosted a forum at the Rockville Centre Library on Jan. 30, addressing local concerns about the Long Island Rail Road — including the poor safety and parking conditions at the Baldwin station and the lack of weekend service on the West Hempstead branch. The panel of officials included Robert Brennan, the LIRR’s director of government and community affairs, and Patrick Gerakaris, branch line manager of the Babylon, Far Rockaway, Hempstead, Long Beach and West Hempstead branches.
Baldwin resident Florette Fraser expressed concerns about commuters who take the Babylon train from either the Rockville Centre or Freeport stations but often park in the lots around the Baldwin station, leaving less space for residents who take the train from there.
“I don’t understand why I have to get out of my house 40 minutes early to get decent parking,” Fraser said. “The prime spots are left for people coming in from other towns, like Oceanside or maybe Freeport, and I’m talking about the spots between Grand Avenue and Milburn Avenue.”
Safety a concern
Meda Meraday, a member of the Baldwin Oaks Community Association, said that the Baldwin train station is not safe due to its lack of lighting — specifically under the station and in the parking lots on Sunrise Highway — the absence of police in its vicinity and a defunct escalator that reduces the safety of elderly and disabled riders.
Brennan said that the municipal parking lots around the Baldwin station are under the jurisdiction of the Town of Hempstead — 95 percent of the spots at railroad stations are usually under the local municipality, he added — and that he would report these complaints about parking to town officials.
Given the recent snow emergencies across the South Shore, during which the LIRR normally implements a weekend train schedule, Malverne Mayor Patricia McDonald opened the floor to discuss how this procedure often forces commuters on the West Hempstead branch to take more dangerous routes to work, since the branch’s weekend service has been suspended for the past four years.