In a community with more than 40,000 people, and many more who pass through each week, Valley Stream’s roadways receive a lot of attention from residents and elected officials. These roadways are more than just asphalt, however. They’re also made up of the homes and businesses nearby.
Village residents are familiar with West Merrick Road — east of Hook Creek Boulevard and west of Rockaway Avenue — and its service-oriented businesses that call it home. At a recent Envision Valley Stream meeting, when members were asked the first thing to come to their minds when they hear “West Merrick Road,” a popular response was “car dealerships.”
West Merrick Road has many car dealerships, but a few of them will soon be moving to other locations down the road or to Sunrise Highway. South Shore Hyundai is moving to the Green Acres Shopping Center on Sunrise Highway in May, while Acura of Valley Stream and South Shore Honda are shifting to different locations on West Merrick Road. Honda’s new dealership will be on the south side of the Merrick Road at the corner of Montgomery Street. Acura will be across Montgomery Street, also on the south side of Merrick Road at the old Toyota dealership location, according to Thomas McAleer, the village’s superintendent of buildings.
Enterprise Rent-A-Car is moving from the corner of Central Avenue to where Boening Florist used to be, and Bical Chevrolet will soon be remodeling its facility, McAleer said. He added that applications for all the projects have been submitted and are currently being reviewed.
“Having the car dealers build, improve and modernize their facilities is good for everyone,” said Mayor Ed Fare, who added that his administration has taken a pro-business stance since it took office.
Charlie Chiarello, the owner of Classic Coffee Systems, which has been on West Merrick Road for 18 years, said his business is in a convenient location, but the large number of car dealerships makes the road aesthetically unappealing.
“There is no ‘neighborhood feel,’” he said, “and other than to get your car fixed or to purchase a new car, there is no reason to visit the west end of Merrick Road in Valley Stream.” Chiarello added that he would like to see additional development on West Merrick Road, including business offices and apartment buildings.
President of Envision Valley Stream David Sabatino would also like to see some new development on West Merrick Road and highlighted some vacant plots or properties for sale at a recent meeting that could potentially be redeveloped.
“We’re approaching a time where more of these businesses are leaving and a lot of these buildings are so old they’re being demolished where we can start planning for a different West Merrick Road,” he said. Sabatino would like to see Merrick Road in Valley Stream take after Merrick Road in Rockville Centre where there are townhouses and apartment buildings in between the busy road and residential area.
Since West Merrick Road mainly has service-oriented businesses, residents don’t have a reason to walk or shop on it, Sabatino said. “There are two large residential areas on either side of Merrick Road and their ability to really connect with Merrick Road is limited,” he said.
Beverly Martin has lived two blocks away from West Merrick Road for nearly 14 years and said one her biggest issues with the roadway is the upkeep of some of the storefronts. She would like to see more business owners clean and maintain their properties to a higher standard.
According to Fare, village officials have showed some properties to developers in an effort to spark discussion. He added that a developer looked at the St. Therese Council of the Knights of Columbus property, which is up for sale, last week.
“It is changing,” said Vinny Ang, the research assistant to the village Board of Trustees, of West Merrick Road, “and I think it’s going to change for the better as far as the residents are concerned and the village as a whole.”