Mineola residents of Latham and White Roads near Jericho Turnpike turned out in force at the village hall on October 9 for a special use hearing in great opposition to a proposed 24-hour convenience store and gas station put forth by Bolla Market at the current empty lot at 449 Jericho Turnpike.
The site was once home to a Getty gas station and auto repair facility which had occupied the site since 1959 but which had burned down in 2007. The vacant 20,000 sq. ft lot was purchased by Harry Singh’s Bolla Market company in April 2012 with the intention of constructing a new proposed Exxon station with six gas pump islands able to dispense gas and diesel, sheltered by a 24x150 q. ft. canopy and a 2,250 sq. ft. 24-hour convenience store on the property. A year-long review process came to head during the public hearing before the village board, with every resident present speaking in opposition to the proposal.
“(There’s) nothing but gridlock there,” said Ed Heyguk, due to cars in and out of both streets.
Carol Provenzano of White Road said that the construction and operation of the 24-hour station would “deny me and my husband... of quality of life,” due to noise and light pollution.
“Getting out of Latham Road is problematic enough,” said David Kayem, referring to Sylvan Learning and Speedwire. “It is impossible to live in that area with a 24-hour operation.”
Ken Cotroneo and White Road resident Matilda Wojis asked about the volume of cars at other Bolla gas stations on Stewart Avenue in Garden City and one on Jericho Turnpike and Glen Cove Road also owned by Singh and if any other community has “stood up” against a 24 hour station.
“I do want that area beautified, it really is unsightly to look at over the years... so we really do need something at that corner,” Wojis said.
Anthony Tramonte of White Road also saw concern over cars heading south, saying he would “throw myself” in front to make them stop and that he has observed other Bolla locations without a gas station “and there’s nothing positive.”
Fellow White Road resident Maria McCarey had collected 124 signatures in opposition to the 24 hour station, saying that “my children alone play softball on weekends; they practice in that lot... the traffic is going to be so increased that it’s going to be a danger to our children in Mineola.”
Bolla plans on screening the municipal lot to the south of the station’s location with a masonry wall and numerous evergreen tree plantings, however, McCarey believed that the lot “equals crime, encourages loitering, unsafe activity, drinking alcohol, smoking, littering, hanging out in a municipal parking lot at night. We have little bags that people have drugs that they must have used.”
Thomas McManus of Beebe Road said that the village should refuse to pickup waste at the facility. Bolla has stated that a private carter would pick up trash from a dedicated receptacle two to three times per week.
Susan Chin of White Road said that ”we just don’t want a convenience store. We just don’t want a 24-hour convenience store. We just don’t want them.”
Tom Raad of Latham Road said the entire proposal was a “poorly developed presentation,” as the store “acts as a gravity” for students and youths. “That convenience to me just doesn’t measure up.”
Barton Loewenthal of Andrews Road added that “those are not what I came to Mineola for,” meaning the increased traffic and 24-hours of operation. “What are we trying to be, Times Square?”
William Pfeffer of Beebe Road believed that the station would put food establishments that already exist on Jericho out of business, saying “I think we should keep them and keep (Bolla) out.”
Michael DaSilva of Marcellus Road proposed cutting the station’s hours back, telling executives, “let Mineola be your first... make us their first non-24-hour Bolla.”
Due to the lengthiness of the hearing, mayor Scott Strauss left the comment period open and that the hearing would be continued on November 13 at 6:30 p.m. at the village hall.