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Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Five Towns residents oppose Costco’s gas station
More traffic on Rockaway Turnpike is the negative
By Jeff Bessen and Ann E. Friedman
Jeffrey Bessen/Herald
Increased traffic volume in an already congested area is why some Five Towns oppose Costco's plan to build a 22-pump gas station at its Rockaway store in Lawrence.

Representatives for Costco and some Five Towns residents strongly disagreed on how much traffic the proposed 22-pump gasoline station will generate at the warehouse franchise’s Lawrence store on Rockaway Turnpike.

A public form on the matter was held at the Five Towns Community Center last week.

Residents think that the gas station will create more traffic problems in an area that is already congested.

However, Daniel Baker, the Uniondale-based attorney representing Costco, said that traffic studies have shown there will not be a noticeable difference as the gas stations are members only.

Costco officials said they would meet with state representatives regarding possible traffic improvements focusing on Bay Boulevard, where the state’s Department of Transportation conducted a study.

John Harter, a traffic engineer from Atlantic Traffic and Design Engineers, hired by Costco, said that a majority of the gas station customers would all ready be shopping at Costco or members who residents of the area. Harter estimates the station would have 20 additional vehicles per hour than if there was no station.

Baker said that approximately 80 percent of the 433 Costco stores in the U.S. and Puerto Rico have gas stations. Should the Town of Hempstead approve the station, it would the first one for Costco on Long Island.

The town needs to approve a requested parking variance as the store currently has 822 parking stalls and construction the station would reduce that to 735 spots, under the minimum the town requires for a store this size.

Roy Meserole represented the Inwood Civic Association at the meeting and believes adding gas pumps to Costco will worsen an already bad situation. “The community is well served by the currently operating gas stations in the neighborhood and this would add to the congestion problems,” he said.

Meserole added that though there were not many community members in attendance, the meeting was productive. “The opposition was there, though not in great numbers, but they spoke well for the thousands of people who commute through that congestion everyday,” he said.

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