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01/17/16 6:00am
01/17/2016 6:00 AM


As part of the buildup to his State of the State address and budget presentation Wednesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo revealed a variety of initiatives last week designed to aid Long Island in a variety of ways.

Those plans include spending more than $1 billion to reinvigorate the area’s transportation infrastructure and protect local environments. For the most part, however, the East End seems to be left out of the mix. READ

06/10/15 11:49am
06/10/2015 11:49 AM
The Riverhead train station remains unoccupied. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

The Riverhead train station remains unoccupied. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

A little less than a year ago, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced it had finally found a tenant for the long-vacant Riverhead train station, which was built 105 years ago and closed as a station in 1972 due to low ridership.

Islandwide Transportation, a Mastic cab company, had signed a 10-year lease last August to use the train station as a waiting room and depot.

Fast-forward to this year: The station is still empty and officials are talking about allowing the Guardian Angels, who began patrolling the Railroad Avenue area last week, to use the building.

The Angels, however, would have to wait until the situation with Islandwide is resolved, as the MTA is planning legal action against the cab company for back rent, MTA officials said.

“EMD Transportation, doing business as Islandwide, is delinquent on its rent and has been for some time,” MTA spokesman Sal Arena said by email.

“To the best of our knowledge, the cab company has never actually used the Riverhead Station space,” Mr. Arena said. “Efforts to locate the company and its principals have been unsuccessful. We are now ready to take legal action to regain control of the space. Any decision about future use of the station building will have to await the outcome of that litigation.

“Meanwhile,” he added, “we will be reaching out to update town officials and to discuss how the space might be used down the road.”

Officials did not say how much Islandwide owes in rent, but the agreement they signed specified rent in the amount of $19,000 for the first year of the lease. That rate was scheduled to rise gradually, reaching $24,790 by the 10th year.

Islandwide was also supposed to make improvements to the station at its own expense, and to keep the waiting room and bathrooms open for Long Island Rail Road customers during peak railroad hours. Mr. Arena said that while no work has been done on the station by Islandwide, that would not have precluded them from occupying the building.

Representatives of Islandwide did not respond to the News-Review’s request for comment.

Finding a tenant for the Riverhead train station has been a losing battle over the years.

Riverhead Town actually leased the building from the MTA for a dollar in 2002 after the MTA did about $1 million in renovations there.

Under that agreement, the town was supposed to keep it occupied by a nonprofit organization for the next decade, but was unable to find any takers, even when the building was offered rent-free.

The Riverhead Business Improvement District moved its office there in the late 1990s but departed after about a week because its lone employee didn’t feel safe there.

Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa said during a recent tour of the area that he’d like to use the train station as a headquarters and training center, although town officials said at the time they were unsure of the status of the lease to Islandwide.

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04/21/15 3:30pm
04/21/2015 3:30 PM
First responders on scene of the accident in Laurel Tuesday afternoon after a train collided with a tractor. (Credit: Grant Parpan)

First responders on scene of the accident in Laurel Tuesday afternoon after a train collided with a tractor. (Credit: Grant Parpan)

A single-car Long Island Rail Road train collided with a tractor at a farm in Laurel Tuesday afternoon, according to Riverhead Police Lt. David Lessard.  (more…)

08/19/14 4:00pm
08/19/2014 4:00 PM

LIRR riders board an eastbound train out of Riverhead last summer. (Credit: Steve Rossin, file)

Due to construction projects and track repairs, buses will be replacing Long Island Rail Road trains running between Ronkonkoma and Greenport beginning Sept. 2 and ending Nov. 16, the MTA announced.

The buses will replace four weekday trains — two eastbound and two westbound — between the two train stops while ties are replaced and grade crossings are restored.  (more…)

01/15/14 5:00pm
01/15/2014 5:00 PM
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | A state Supreme Court ruled Wednesday controversial Metropolitan Transit Authority payroll tax is unconstitutional.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | The state Court of Appeals upheld a controversial Metropolitan Transit Authority payroll tax as constitutional Tuesday.

The MTA payroll tax is constitutional, according to the state’s highest court.

The New York Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s ruling in June backing the controversial tax, which has long been opposed by Republican lawmakers and fiercely defended by Metropolitan Transit Authority officials.

Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano had sought to have the tax declared unconstitutional, and filed an appeal against the lower court’s ruling. But without comment, the Court of Appeals declined to hear the case Wednesday, dismissing the suit.

The tax was approved in 2009 and imposed a .34 percent levy on payroll for all employers, including schools and governments, in New York City and the seven surrounding suburban counties.

“This concludes a series of court rulings confirming that the [tax] is constitutional, and that funding the operation and improvement of essential transportation services provided by the MTA is a matter of substantial state concern,” the MTA wrote in a statement.

Mr. Mangano had claimed that the tax was unconstitutional because it altered tax policies of municipalities to fund something that wasn’t state-wide.

In a statement, Mr. Mangano’s office didn’t comment on the dismissal, choosing to claim victory for a partial rollback of the tax it said was inspired by the suit.

“County Executive Mangano’s lawsuit to protect Long Islanders against the MTA Payroll Tax was victorious in 2011 as it resulted in Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature eliminating the burden of the MTA Payroll Tax for thousands of small businesses.” said spokesman Brian Nevin in an email.

Then-County Legislator Ed Romaine and State Assemblyman Dan Losquadro, both Republicans, had also opposed the tax.

“I strongly disagree with the decision of the court,” said Mr. Romaine, now Brookhaven’s Town Supervisor. “I think there were constitutional grounds to challenge [the tax].”

Mr. Romaine said the tax would “make New York uncompetitive” in attracting new businesses, saying the levy was an unfair burden on local government, schools and taxpayers.

“We don’t see the dollar that we send to the MTA come back as investment in public transportation in Suffolk County,” he said. “We’re being taxed to provide services to New York City.”

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