What to do with the gate at the end of South Lord Avenue in Lawrence brought a standing room only crowd to Lawrence Village Hall for the Nov. 9 board of trustees meeting to discuss safety and convenience surrounding the closed gate, an entrance and exit to the Inwood Long Island Rail Road station.
Many residents use this gate to get to the LIRR station, which provides access to parts of Inwood by foot, traveling underneath the Nassau Expressway, according to Stuart Katz, a Cumberland Place resident.
Katz spoke to the board, expressing his dissatisfaction with bolting the gate earlier in the month. As someone who used this access point regularly, he was surprised to see the gate closed.
“Quite a number of people missed trains because we were not notified that had happened,” he said.
He also said closing the gate created a more hazardous situation as pedestrians were forced to walk routes and cross streets that had much more vehicular traffic.
“Many of us have children who live in Inwood, we have grandchildren who live in Inwood, they’re inconvenienced now that they need to walk up Doughty (Boulevard), come across Central (Avenue) to come and visit us, putting our children and grandchildren in danger,” Katz said. “You’re endangering our children, there was no notification, we were not aware that it was being voted on by the board, I find that highly irregular and wrong, quite frankly, we’re very disappointed that took place and we would like it removed for good.”
Deputy Mayor Paris Popack said the gate closure was about balancing resident safety.
“We had a lot of complaints about vagrants coming through,” Popack said of when the gate was closed with a combination lock, which would regularly be broken. “With this, we decided to close it for the safety of the neighborhood.”
Trustee Tammy Roz, noted a Lawrence resident said the community wanted the gate locked.
“We were presented by someone from the community who told us that everybody wanted it closed and there are people coming through and exposing themselves and people are coming up to people’s houses and looking through their windows,” Roz said. “The person who wanted it, changed his mind publically, so we were encouraged to vote to close it, so we all voted to close based on somebody who lived here because we were concerned about your safety, when we found out nobody wanted it, we were like, ‘Open it up, we don’t care.’”
Her support to open the gate was met with applause.
Mayor Alex Edelman then called on the residents to raise their hands if they opted for the gate opened. The audience unanimously voted yes.
Since the meeting, the gate has returned to its previous state secured by a combination lock.