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Yet another 7-Eleven?: Island Park residents raise concerns about traffic

The new 7-Eleven will be on the corner of Austin Boulevard and California Place South, across from the Starbucks.
The new 7-Eleven will be on the corner of Austin Boulevard and California Place South, across from the Starbucks.
Matthew D'Onofrio

On a three-mile stretch of road from Oceanside to Long Beach, motorists encounter four 7-Elevens. There’s a fifth one on nearby Lawson Boulevard — and soon there will be a sixth, on Austin Boulevard, near the Long Beach Bridge, which has a number of residents concerned about increased traffic congestion.

The five current 7-Elevens include one on Atlantic Avenue, another on Lawson Boulevard, one on Long Beach Road in Oceanside, another on Austin Boulevard in Island Park and yet another on Long Beach Boulevard in Long Beach.

“Once we heard a 7-Eleven was coming out of nowhere, everyone was up in arms,” said Patti Ambrosia, an Island Park resident and the head of the Island Park Civic Association’s Austin Boulevard Committee.

She said residents are confused about the need for another store within a mile and a half of the one on Long Beach Boulevard. The main concern, according to Ambrosia and other residents, is the increase in traffic coming off California Place South onto Austin Boulevard, because one of the driveways of the Starbucks at 4507 Austin Blvd. is accessible via California Place South, and the driveway of the incoming 7-Eleven would be parallel to that.

“I’m happy the corner is finally being developed,” resident Kelly Ann Foster, who lives down the block, told the Herald. She noted that the surrounding area would be more aesthetically pleasing and more promptly cleared when it snows, adding, “After all, it’s another 7-Eleven in a line of 7-Eleven’s, as ubiquitous as a bank or nail salon. But better that than empty stores.”

However, Foster added, “I’m concerned about traffic flow.” She suggested the entrance on South California Place be closed to alleviate congestion.

“I’m all for the 7-Eleven,” resident Dana Gray-Lanyo, who lives a three-minute walk away from the incoming location, told the Herald. She said she thinks it will be convenient for her to get milk, but she also raised concern over the potential “traffic jam” on California Place South.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said resident Brian Stein, who lives between the 7-Elevens in Island Park and Long Beach. He said he looks forward to the convenience. However, like other residents, he, too, is worried about the access from California Place South “for flow purposes.”

“I don’t mind the 7-Eleven being there, but not the driveway on South California Place,” resident and local business owner Anna Califano D’Amaro said. “It’s horrendous. The traffic, we can’t even get out of there.”

She said there are already complications with traffic due to the Starbucks, which has two entrances — one on Austin Boulevard and another on South California Place. She said one entrance and exit on Austin Boulevard for the 7-Eleven is “the only solution,” because the alternative is an entrance and exit on Baker Court — where the back of the building would face — which could potentially cause similar traffic problems.

In response to the new convenience store, the Island Park Civic Association held a meeting at the Island Park Public Library on Sept. 11, attended by residents, Town of Hempstead and Nassau County officials, and a 7-Eleven representative. The town and county representatives reportedly told residents that the plans would be re-evaluated, according to Ambrosia.

“The building department is revising the plans, and we’re working with Nassau County Department of Public Works and 7-Eleven executives to come to some sort of agreement for the best interests of the residents and visitors of Island Park,” Hempstead Town Councilman Anthony D’Esposito told the Herald.

According to his office, the application was filed on Sept. 30, 2015, and the permit was issued on Aug. 2. D’Esposito said no variances were granted because they were not needed, as the building conformed to town code and was approved “as of right,” meaning the planning board was not involved. Construction for the new 7-Eleven is already underway.

“I think it’s a little crazy to have a 7-Eleven so close to another 7-Eleven, but I guess there’s nothing we can do,” County Legislator Denise Ford told the Herald. She noted that she and county Department of Public Works have concerns about cars exiting and entering the property, and are investigating possibilities such as closing the entrance on South California Place.

“Cars going across Austin would cause a big traffic jam,” Ford noted. She said the location will be modeled after the Long Beach location.

When contacted by the Herald, the construction and planning manager for the 7-Eleven, Eric Roemer, declined to comment. “Everything is in DPW’s hands,” he said.