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Former Colleague Salutes Tom Sobol

It was with great sadness that I learned of the passing of Tom Sobol, former assistant superintendent of the Great Neck Schools. So many visions flash through my mind of him and of our relationship. With deference to the many wonderful colleagues with whom I have served, Tom was, simply stated, the most outstanding individual with whom I have had the pleasure of serving in my 44 years of being an active educator and in my 23 years of continued involvement in retirement. No one has left such a huge and lasting legacy in so short a time in our schools.

While at Great Neck, we bonded and shared many good and not-so-good times. When one or the other had a particularly poor day, we drove to Jones Beach and played shuffleboard to unwind.

Tom was the creator of the Village School in Great Neck. It was one of the first alternative schools in the nation and is still going strong. It really should be named after him. It was his idea and his plan.

I don’t know of anyone who used the English language with such eloquence, clarity and dignity. We have lost a great human being, a great leader and I a good friend. I’m sure others in Great Neck have similar feelings and remembrances of Tom.

Gil Blum

Power To The People

State utility regulators will issue a formal recommendation on whether, and by how much, our PSEG Long Island and the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) electric utility rates should increase over the next three years on Sept. 28.

AARP is pleased that the state Public Service Commission (PSC) recently urged a reduction in PSEG’s original proposal for a three-year, nearly 12 percent hike in electric delivery rates—the highest in the history of the Long Island Power Authority.

Long Islanders simply can’t afford a double-digit increase in the price of one of life’s necessities, especially since they already face the third highest residential electric costs in the continental United States.

Long Island’s utility consumers are struggling: the number of customer arrears and final termination notices surged early last year, while 17,000 LIPA residential accounts—about 46 a day or two households every hour—were terminated in 2014. And an AARP survey of Long Island’s 50-plus voters last year showed nearly half are “extremely” or “very” concerned about being able to pay their utility bills in the coming years.

We think the PSC’s suggestion of a reduction in the proposed rate hike of about one quarter—which would still result in a nearly 9 percent increase over three years—should be the starting point of a discussion with LIPA, not the end.

An AARP analysis found PSEG would raise rates on the backs of low-usage consumers and saddle ratepayers with more of its expenses for power supply cost overruns, major storm restoration costs and shortfalls in interest on borrowing.

Older Long Islanders, especially those on fixed or limited incomes who are typically low energy users, shouldn’t have to carry the load here. They can’t afford it.

Whatever the PSC’s recommendations on Sept. 28, AARP urges LIPA to exhaust any and all options to further reduce the hike.

Bernard Macias

Associate State Director
of AARP for Long Island

Participate in Car Free Day Sept. 22

Millions of Americans today, including many Great Neck residents, utilize various public transportation alternatives on a daily basis. They include the local and express bus, ferry, jitney, light rail, subway and commuter rail services. All of these systems use less fuel and move far more people than conventional single-occupancy vehicles. Most of these systems are funded with your tax dollars.

Depending upon where you live, consider the public transportation alternative. Try riding a local or express bus, commuter van, ferry, light rail, commuter rail or subway.

Leave your car at home. For local trips in the neighborhood, walk or ride a bike. For longer travels, consider many public transportation alternatives already available provided by Metropolitan Transportation Authority, New York City Transit, MTA Bus, Long Island Rail Road, Metro North Rail Road, Nassau Inter County Express (NICE) Bus and others. They use less fuel and move far more people than cars. In many cases, your employer can offer transit checks to help subsidize a portion of the costs. Utilize your investments and reap the benefits. You’ll be supporting a cleaner environment and be less stressed upon arrival at your final destination.

The ability to travel from home to workplace, school, shopping, entertainment, medical, library etc., is a factor when moving to a new neighborhood. Economically successful communities are not 100% dependent on automobiles as the sole means of mobility. Seniors, students, low and middle income people need these transportation alternatives. Investment in public transportation today contributes to economic growth, employment and a stronger economy. Dollar for dollar, it is one of the best investments we can make.

 —Larry Penner

Asks For Support of Interfaith Nutrition Network

Many of us will be observing Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and what better time for us to reflect on the many blessings that have been bestowed upon us. To live in such a beautiful community, surrounded by friends and family, to be able to worship and observe the teachings of our faith.

One of those teachings is that of compassion for the weakest members of our society. Compassion for the stranger, for the widow, for the orphan, for those struggling with poverty and sometimes even with homelessness. Each of us is tasked with turning our feelings of compassion into acts of compassion and kindness.

One of the best ways to do that is by supporting the work of The INN (Interfaith Nutrition Network), which has supported Long Islanders in need for more than 30 years—with food, with clothing, with shelter, with support services and with love.

Please share the blessings in your life with those who haven’t been as fortunate by making a donation to The INN in whatever amount you can afford. Donations may be mailed to: Dave Golbert, 7 Lee Court West, Great Neck, NY 11024. Please make your check payable to:  The INN.

As our sages teach us, “Blessed are those who share with those who have less.”

—David Golbert

Says LIRR Isn’t The Only Way

In the early 1990’s, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority & Long Island Rail Road conducted the East River Tunnels Life Safety Study. This report clearly documented the need for investing several hundred million dollars to bring the East River Tunnels back up to a state of good repair. All four tunnels built between 1904 & 1909 outlived their useful life long ago. They have been in desperate need for major upgrades decades ago. Sadly since that study, over the past Five Year Capital Plans, the MTA & LIRR programmed insufficient funding to perform these tasks. As a result, over time there has been an increase in the frequency of major service disruptions due to storm and signal problems in the East River Tunnels. These problems periodically also occur between the Tunnel Portals and Harold Interlockings west of the Woodside Station. The MTA & LIRR also failed to develop a specific implementation plan with Amtrak who actually owns the tunnels to complete this extremely required work.

There is no room to run additional trains into or out of Penn Station during either a.m. or p.m. rush hours via the East River tunnels with connections to Long Island. Three of the four tunnels running inbound during a.m. and outbound p.m. rush hours have very tight spacing between trains. One tunnel is shared by the LIRR, New Jersey Transit and Amtrak for reverse train movements with equally tight spacing during rush hours. There is no platform capacity at Penn Station to accommodate any additional trains during rush hours. Penn Station is currently operating at 100 percent capacity during both a.m. and p.m. rush hours. If one of the four tunnels is temporarily out of service, the result is numerous delays and cancellation of trains.

Fast forward to today. Intelligent LIRR Port Washington branch riders know how to deal with the growing unreliability of service by utilizing alternative means of travel. Instead of waiting hour after hour at Penn Station looking at the clock, take the #7 express subway line from Times Square, Manhattan to Flushing, Queens. This trip averages 25 minutes. Connecting services are provided by New York City Transit Bus from Flushing on the Q12, Q13 and Q28 or Nassau Inter County Express (NICE) Bus on the N20 to Great Neck or Hicksville and N21 to Glen Cove (remember that the first stop to get off any east bound NICE Bus is at the City Line). There are also the QM2A or QM3 NYCT express bus route.

All of these bus routes pass by or are within several blocks of various LIRR stations on the Port Washington branch. A simple transfer to a north or south bound bus route also provides connections to other neighborhoods. Why stress yourself waiting for the train when you can also ride the bus?

Larry Penner

Answers Shop Delight Supporter

I realize that I must be more specific in responding to the letter from the respected President of the Great Neck Chamber of Commerce, Hooshang Nematzadeh, that was printed last week. True, his function as president is an attempt to develop business areas in Great Neck, but this is only one function of his responsibilities. The second must be the community, and by this I mean the residents. He cannot lose sight that other villages in Great Neck have a desired way of life as well, and he must keep this thought in his advocating mind when suggesting recommendations of various projects.

Nematzadeh’s intimation that there was glee and joyfulness amongst the residents abiding at or near the Shop Delight application [site] is totally incorrect. More aptly, it was relief for a project that just didn’t fit the criteria for this large space. The village leaders of both Great Neck Estates and Kensington studied and recognized all of the pitfalls that this supermarket would present. After almost a year of requests from the Mayor of Great Neck Estates and his trustees, just on one issue alone, parking, was never addressed by the applicant. His quote was that the supermarket would require 125 to150 cars per hour. This parking lot accommodates approximately 200 cars. Perhaps 90 of them are monthly permit holders by either adjoining residents or commercial tenants and their clientele. You can do the numbers. He claims that the Planet Fitness parking problem has been avoided. This is quite far from the truth. Controlling the enormous traffic buildup on turns from Middle Neck Road, from and to the narrow entrance and exits, would be havoc. I’m not even mentioning the vehicles that constantly enter the wrong entrances.

There is also the problem of huge trailers and trucks making deliveries which cannot maneuver these entrances, and their only solution would be to double park on the already over-trafficked Middle Neck Road. This major artery, at this point, funnels into the heart of our village, and needless to say, would impact on the traffic and safety aspect, both to cars and pedestrians crossing.

This would as well drastically impact the Village of Kensington’s Beverly Road, which would turn into an alternate route to avoid the overcrowded Middle Neck Road. Try picturing this scenario. Just the traffic and parking alone would negate this absurd project. This is already a major issue that exists at Shop Delight’s present location, and regardless of how many summonses it is issued, for code violations of every type, if indeed they are issued, just charge it up as the cost of doing business.

Let Nematzadeh be present to witness a huge trailer attempting to make a delivery on that strip, and he will appreciate my comments. I can spend an inordinate amount of time writing on other code violations that this supermarket owner is guilty of, i.e.: fork lifts running back and forth on the sidewalk, using the storefront sidewalk as an outdoor market, and the filth of their garbage disposal which is exposed to rats, and vermin, to mention a few.

Most of these flagrant violations have over time been photographically documented, and I would welcome Nematzadeh the opportunity to view them himself. The truly basic conclusion is from an old saying, “You can never put five pounds of apples in a two pound bag.”

Kindly reconsider your support in this endeavor. It just doesn’t work for this type of operation. I feel confident that you will use sage judgment. The vast majority of these communities have expressed their sentiments in the same exact way.

Bruce Funk, President, Board
of Directors, Kenwood Gardens

Drivers, Walkers Need To Be More Careful

We were reminded the other day, in observing another close encounter between a car and a pedestrian, that those who are driving and those who are walking have to be a lot more careful and much more considerate of each other.

And drivers have to be a lot more considerate of each other, too.

For example, take what still goes on in the Welwyn Road area near the main branch of the post office and the Shop Delight market.

The owners of Shop Delight pay the Park District over $5,000 a year to establish convenient free parking in the lot across the street and Great Neck Plaza has taken steps to improve pedestrian safety in the area with signs and a designated crosswalk.

There’s been some improvement there, but problems still remain. Drivers, who have had well over a year to learn of the free parking arrangement, still selfishly insist on double-parking in front of the store, creating jams, backups and hazardous conditions for pedestrians.

Pedestrians still insist on avoiding the crosswalk and crossing wherever they find it to be convenient.

The situation in the Waldbaum’s parking lot is also problematic. Too many cars there tend to go too fast and too many drivers are placing their cars in the traffic lanes blocking sight lines and causing backups.

We don’t want to leave out the area surrounding the railroad
station when it comes to safety concerns either.

So, drivers and pedestrians, please be more careful and show more consideration.

Andy Newman

Criticizes Shop Delight Rejection


Chamber of Commerce’s Hooshang Nematzadeh (right) speaks with Judi Bosworth at a recent Chamber meeting

A Letter Submitted by Hooshang Nematzadeh, President of the Great Neck Chamber of Commerce [Read more…]

Gas Blowers Are A Pain

Some say a man named Dom Quinto is to blame for the cacophony our ears are exposed to on a daily basis from March, almost until December, caused by the gasoline powered leaf blowers that he supposedly invented in the ’50s.

Others attribute its invention even farther back to Satan himself.

It may surprise you to know that most of the villages in Great Neck have laws on the books prohibiting their use from June through Labor Day. Thomaston, for example, bans them from May through September.

So, what’s the problem? Is enforcement impractical?

We recognize that landscapers see these blowers as a great aid to their work, and assume that if they had to use manual tools, it would greatly slow them down and cause them to charge much more for their services.

Just the other day, we watched—and were unavoidably forced to listen to—landscapers down the block using three machines in unison to blow grass clippings, some leaves and dust (and who knows what else) off our neighbor’s lawn and into
the street.

We wondered what the point was in using three blowers at all, especially since the landscapers never bothered to pick up what they had blown into the street. We almost laughed when a gust of wind blew most of the debris back onto the sidewalk and the lawn.

While we’re critical of Quinto’s invention, we’d like to praise Chester Greenwood, the man who patented the steel garden rake in 1936.

But has the rake become obsolete, just like the dial telephone?

Greenwood is also credited with another invention that could come in handy in protecting yourself from the noise of those gas blowers.  Greenwood invented earmuffs in the 1870s, also handy in keeping your ears warm during the winter.

Still, we’d like to salute our other neighbor’s contribution to our street’s peace and quiet. Each week he works together with his son to mow their lawn with matching push mowers and they even use a rake and a broom for cleanup.

The low-level noise from the whirring of the blades on those mowers is almost soothing.

—Andy Newman

Great Neck’s A Summer Festival

Sure it’s the summer season, a time when things are usually a little quieter and usually less busy on the peninsula, as many kids are at camp and lots of families are away on vacation. But, if you’re in town, you’ve got to realize that Great Neck has had a lot to offer this season.

From the concerts on the weekends in Steppingstone (which we’ve written in praise of before) to the Great Neck Plaza Tuesday evening shows, to the series of promenades and sidewalk sales sponsored in the Plaza by the Business Improvement District, there’s been plenty of entertainment and activities available, catering to a wide variety of tastes.

In one recent six-day period, the community could enjoy a talented Fleetwood Mac tribute band concert highlighted by a memorable finale, augmented by four drummers and a 16-piece brass band, watch Great Neck resident Pamela Levy produce an incomparable Plaza evening of opera featuring eight stunning Great Neck student voices and a guest appearance by Nikki Blonsky of Hairspray fame and then top it off with a unique one-man show at Great Neck North High School by Roger McGuinn, the creative force behind the very successful ’60s rock group, The Byrds (“Mr. Tambourine Man”).

We’re heading toward Labor Day and the back-to-school rush, but there’s still time to enjoy the remaining concerts and activities that are available, as well as the beauty of Great Neck itself.

—Andy Newman