Wednesday, March 29, 2006

School Buses Headed for Shore Road?

At long last, North Shore School District buses may have found a new home. In May, North Shore School District residents will vote on a bond that would fund purchasing a lot on Shore Road and constructing a school bus maintenance facility there.

The lot is on the east side of Shore Road adjacent to the Glenwood Landing ExxonMobil Terminal. It is in the new Waterfront B zone created by the Glenwood Landing Waterfront Redevelopment and Revitalization Plan adopted by the Town of Oyster Bay in 2003. The Waterfront B zone calls for water-related uses, such as restaurants and recreation facilities, on the east side of Shore Road.

Although a bus maintenance garage is not an approved use under the Waterfront B zone, the Glenwood / Glen Head Civic Association believes using this lot for a school bus facility is appropriate. In fact, for several years we have been urging the school district to explore this location for the buses. We were delighted when North Shore School Board President Tom Murphy phoned last year to say the district was, indeed, investigating the site for this purpose.

Attracting a water-related use at the location proposed for the buses is difficult because of the industrial activities on neighboring properties. We think a school bus maintenance facility is a good solution for four major reasons:

• the entire community would benefit from solving the bus storage and maintenance problem;

• relocation would relieve bus-related problems for residents on Smith Street in the vicinity of Glenwood School;

• there would be no increase in traffic since the school buses are already on local roads;

• construction of a new building and new landscaping presents an opportunity to screen the industrial equipment on neighboring lots—an important consideration in this waterfront zone.

The advantages of an in-house transportation policy versus contracting out, the price of the lot, and the cost of constructing a garage are outside the scope of the civic association’s mandate.

If the bond passes, the review process will be controlled by the North Shore School District rather than the Town of Oyster Bay. The civic association will have four major concerns: how well the facility screens the equipment on neighboring properties, the architectural features of the building, landscape design, and how well the facility handles stormwater runoff and potential contaminants. We would hope, too, that the district would make a positive declaration (meaning that the project would have a significant environmental impact) and require a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) with public scoping (which would permit public input about what the EIS should include).

A full EIS with public scoping is what was missing during the site selection process for the new generators. In our view, if this had been required, the Long Island Power Authority could still have met its start date and the project would have been a better installation.

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