Traffic and parking issues raised at meetings
Mary Carr’s Ring camera caught Amazon tractor trailers passing by her house in the early morning hours, as many as three in one night. Besides awaking her, there was one major problem: She lives on Sheridan Boulevard in Mineola, not far from the retail giant’s last mile distribution center on Westbury Avenue in Carle Place, and no commercial traffic was allowed on the street, except for local delivery.
When Amazon gave its presentation before the Town of North Hempstead Town Board in August 2019, it promised that its delivery tractor trailers would exit the Long Island Expressway, travel south on Glen Cove Road and make the turn onto Voice Road to reach the loading docks at the south side of the facility, which had once housed a Waldbaum’s. Delivery trucks had used the same docks when it was a supermarket.
Though Carr is not in the jurisdiction of North Hempstead, she had company when it came to complaining about the trucks, and at the June 16 town board meeting Councilwoman Viviana Russell, who represents the area, introduced a resolution to ban commercial through traffic from 13 residential streets in Carle Place. The signage—which does allow local delivery—will enable traffic enforcement of the regulation.
Russell acknowledged that the resolution came about because of the commercial traffic in the Carle Place area.
“There was an issue with the bridge height on Glen Cove Road (the Northern State Parkway overpass),” she said, explaining that the posted signage fooled the trucks’ GPS systems into seeking alternative routes. She told the Westbury Times that Amazon is working on the problem and in the meanwhile has issued travel instructions on paper to its drivers.
“I also want to mention that we’ve been in contact with the Nassau County Police and asked them to monitor this area for commercial traffic,” Russell said at the meeting. “We have had several conversations with Amazon, which is currently working on this, as well as with the Nassau County DPW.”
Westbury resident Peter Gaffney commented on the resolution, noting that Amazon officials made commitments that 2 Westbury Avenue “had sufficient parking for contract tractor trailers, vans and employee vehicles. This is not true. Amazon vans are not parking on the property. They have been parking overnight at the [adjacent] Park Plaza Mall. The trailers have been using local roads in Carle Place and Mineola at all hours of the day and none of this should be happening.”
He added, “Amazon also told us that they would increase the planting buffer on Westbury Avenue to soften the vehicle noises for residence nearby. Again this is not the case. In fact, they’ve reduced the space to include additional parking, which they do not use at all.”
Russell stated, “It is really an enforcement issue to make sure they uphold the responsibilities in regards to the actual site itself. Recently, we did receive another complaint about them going through the residential streets. So we are continuously addressing it. We are ensuring our part that the signage is there so that the police can enforce [the traffic law].”
Gaffney said he had submitted pictures of Amazon delivery vans parked overnight at 200 Park Plaza to town officials.
“It’s really incredible. Amazon has to be held accountable,” he said.
Russell asked Commissioner of Planning Mike Levine to weigh in. Regarding the vans parking off the property, he noted that Amazon would need permission from the town’s Board of Zoning and Appeals.
“As far as we know there’s been no authorization for parking on that site,” Levine said, referring to Park Plaza.
The owner of 200 Park Plaza could not be reached.
Turning to the plantings on the Westbury Avenue border, Levine noted that “the plan did show a reduction in the buffer and it was something that we had raised at the time they were reducing the dimensions, but they’ll mitigate that by increasing the density of the planting.”
A spokesperson for Amazon did not return an email seeking comment.
A Resident’s Viewpoint
Mary Carr of Mineola first contacted the Westbury Times earlier this spring regarding the Amazon tractor trailers traversing her block.
In her original email she added, “Also in the past few months, Amazon trailers have been left overnight on Second Street east of Union Street [in Mineola], clearly in the areas that are marked with a particular two-hour time frame that no vehicles should park there—as well as no overnight commercial parking.”
At the June 16 Town of North Hempstead Town Board, the last held via Zoom, Carr had the following statement read into the record:
I am writing with respect to Amazon in Carle Place. Since it opened in the winter, the neighborhood of Mineola was inundated with 18-wheelers driving down Sheridan Boulevard between the hours of 8 p.m. and 8:30 a.m. (actually in direct conflict with what we were originally told that all truck traffic in and out of the facility would be overnight). Sheridan Boulevard is not a shortcut for trucks as it is a local delivery-only street for trucks. It took months to get this resolved thanks to the help of [Councilwoman Viviana] Russell and her office, who finally met with Amazon and a trustee from the Village of Mineola. We were told stories of GPS, then the size of Amazon trucks—all which should have been handled well before they signed a contract to obtain the space in Carle Place. During that time not only was the late-night noise factor of trucks barrelling down the street—not stopping at stop signs, there was numerous property damage to cars and traffic signs. However, this does not mean it will not happen again. If it wasn’t for my Ring camera, I couldn’t prove any of this. When it does [happen] once again we have to go through the bureaucratic red tape to get an answer. A few suggestions below:
- Amazon should have a dedicated person to handle such complaints that area residents should be able to contact.
- The Town of North Hempstead has street signs for local truck delivery. It is time it was enforced—or make the signs much more visible.
- The Amazon facility was to put up greenery for a sound barrier. That has not happened. What is there now is horrific—they need to put in large shrubbery well into their property line for an esthetic quality and to ensure people can still walk on Westbury Avenue.
In a follow-up email, Mary Carr wrote, “I do have to say [that] since the Amazon met with the town and village, the Amazon 18-wheeler traffic has decreased dramatically. I have only seen two come through so far. But if that were to keep up, I would alert the town immediately.”
Mayor Weighs In
Asked by the Westbury Times for comment, Village of Mineola Mayor Scott P. Strauss sent the following email earlier this year:
Early in 2020, months prior to their opening, I met with an Amazon representative who, when I raised concerns regarding large-sized delivery trucks possibly using our side streets, assured me all tractor-trailers would use Glen Cove Road and Voice Road to enter and exit the facility. None would use our side streets. However, since opening several months ago, we have been having issues with tractor-trailers from Amazon doing just that. They have hit cars, street signs and taken down a light pole. We have been in contact with Amazon, which has acknowledged the issue.
Amazon is claiming the issue stems from a height restriction on Glen Cove Rd at the underpass for the Northern State Parkway that when a truck driver unfamiliar with the area, utilizes a GPS, it directs them away from this underpass and onto our side streets. Amazon states they are working on the issue with their safety team.
The Village of Mineola has no oversight of Amazon as their facility is not in Mineola, it is in Carle Place and falls under the jurisdiction of the Town of North Hempstead under Supervisor Judi Bosworth and Councilwoman Viviana Russell, who represents that area. With that being said, we all, including Rich Nicolello, Nassau County’s presiding officer, are doing everything we can to get this rectified and we are seeking to have those who suffered losses compensated. We will do everything we can to hold Amazon responsible for what they have done.
How this apparent height restriction was missed by allegedly one of the most efficient companies in the world is a question that should be directed to them.
In a more recent email Strauss wrote, “I don’t want to jinx myself but it appears the issue has been rectified.”