Valley Stream Latest Happenings

Why renovations at the Long Island Rail Road Gibson station are months past deadline with no end in sight

Commuters are left in limbo over construction of a near century-old train station waiting room.


A legal roadblock with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation has forced the construction of the waiting room at the Long Island Rail Road’s Gibson station to stop cold in its tracks.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said "construction progress has been delayed due to a more extensive, detailed review by SHPO." A roadblock that is unavoidable, but temporary, amid its plans to upgrade the Gibson waiting room. Charles Pincus, a Gibson commuter, calls construction a chronic nuisance that has left riders like him in suspense over when doors will open again.

The Takeaway

  •  Renovations of the waiting room at the Long Island Rail Road’s Gibson station has been delayed by a legal roadblock with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation. The halt is due to the need to preserve the station’s historical elements.
  • Commuters express frustration over the delayed construction and lack of clear communication from the MTA. Despite some updated signage, several feel uninformed and inconvenienced.
  • The station, built in 1929 by William Gibson, holds significant historical value, complicating the renovation efforts. The state preservation office requires detailed documentation on proposed changes to ensure the historical integrity of the station is maintained.

“There’s been no explanation and no accountability whatsoever in this,” said Pincus. “Every other place gets a station except ours.”

Major overhauls to Gibson began late last year with the calendar circled for this April for station renovations to be completed. It has now been over two months past the expected deadline, and a peeved Pincus is puzzled over why, in his eyes, commuters were not adequately informed of the delay.

MTA officials say signage was updated to give notice of the delay . Meanwhile, transit workers must wait for clearance from the state historic preservation office to continue their alterations due to the station’s historical importance and its need to be preserved from overly invasive changes.


State preservation office hits the brakes on station renovations

Village historians agree without question on the station’s historical worth, having been around for nearly a century. Its origins trace back to its eponymous founder, William Gibson who built the structure in 1929 to the tune of $55,000. For years, Gibson legally wrangled with the Long Island Rail Road to give his residents access to the region by rail. The railroad eventually agreed under one condition: he would build the station himself — and so he did — and so it stands today.

New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation officials requested documentation from the MTA in April on the windows proposed to replace the existing ones to preserve their historic aesthetic as well as information on the roof and wood canopy. Once all requested documentation is received and reviewed, the agency will notify the MTA of its next steps.

MTA media liaison Dave Steckel said that without a clear timeline from the state agency, it is unclear when station renovations will be completed. Currently, extensive work needs to be done on the station’s interior including:

  • Reconfiguring the bathroom to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act regulations
  • Rewiring new lighting in the waiting room and bathroom
  • New plumbing in the bathroom and the waiting room for heating

Frustrated commuters speak out

Pincus is not the only commuter whose patience is wearing thin.

“It’s taking forever.”

That is how daily LIRR commuter, Robert Ziemak, summed up waiting for the waiting room construction to finish, but qualified his frustration by saying it does not personally inconvenience him.

“I just come a couple minutes before the train, so it’s no big deal,” he said. “But I mean, for the older people, they go in there and sit down in the air conditioning. Right now, there’s nothing available for them.”

Renelle Wilson, a daily Gibson commuter, said she felt only slightly vexed by the construction “in terms of weather because you can only really stand down there during certain waiting times.”

Wilson added she was not notified of the construction or when the waiting room would reopen.

Daily commuter Valentina Jaco said construction has been going on for so long that they have turned it into a running joke with her family.

“I thought it said it was going to open in spring 2024,” Jaco said. “So, I thought it’d be done. I honestly don’t know what they’re doing. It’s a joke in my family that they’re building a palace here. It’s taking so long to build something that we don’t even know what’s going to be built.”

All jokes aside, Jaco contends construction crews have been a thorn on commuters who must compete for parking space with construction vehicles.

“Sometimes there will be construction trucks here,” Jaco said. “It’s hard to turn in, especially if you’re getting dropped off. You have to wait for them to move. I’ve had an incident with one of the construction crews where they were actually kind of rude because I was waiting for like two minutes to get out of the car. And they were yelling, ‘This is not a waiting room. You have to get out,’ because they needed to use their car.

“Sometimes there is a hassle with them.”

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