By Tom Momberg
The small traffic island in front of the Bayside Long Island Rail Road station on 41st Avenue has a history of neglect.
This summer the shrubs planted around the half-circle plaza became overgrown with weeds. What used to be grass alongside the paved pathway is now only a few patches of dirt littered with trash, cigarette butts and empty beer bottles.
“When you look at it, it’s something one person could spend a couple of hours a week to take care of,” said Bayside resident Tim Farrell, who commutes through the station every day. “It’s great the (Business Improvement District) is hosting events here, but then there is this entrance to the community that is in this constant state of decay.”
Farrell said he has been trying to find out who was responsible for maintaining the roughly 100-square-foot plaza, but without any luck.
“It’s obvious to me nobody wants to take responsibility for it,” he said.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the state agency that oversees LIRR, said the plaza is under the jurisdiction of the city Department of Transportation.
The half circle is on MTA property, but at least part of the plaza is zoned as city property, lined with streets and sidewalks, according to the city Open Accessible Space Information System.
The DOT said it does not have the equipment to take care of green space and is only responsible for paving in park space and plazas.
This was also discovered by Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), who expressed concerns about safety at the site, calling upon the DOT to repave the cement paths on the traffic island.
“At that time, I was shocked at how bad it was. There has been a problem throughout the city in maintaining sites like this,” Avella said.
He said there is a general agreement on city property for the DOT and the city Department of Sanitation to at least pick up trash and groom traffic circles, plaza triangles and boulevard medians once or twice a year.
In response to the lack of responsibility taken for the small plaza at the Bayside train station, Avella said he is in the process of finalizing a $50,000 grant to be awarded to the Bayside Village BID to take on maintenance at the site.
“Unfortunately, it takes the state a while to process these grants,” Avella said. “I am going to see what I can do to push the city to do something with this site in the meantime.”
Reach reporter Tom Momberg by e-mail at tmomb