Massapequa Park Mayor Jeffrey Pravato and other local officials held a press conference last week calling on the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) and the New York State Legislature to address the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) non-compliance issues across multiple train stations around the island, including in Massapequa Park.
“Our train station is in desperate need of an upgrade,” said Pravato. “After Massapequa, you have Massapequa Park, Amityville, Copiague and Lindenhurst with no elevators. So [disabled] people either have to go to Massapequa or go to Babylon to get an elevator and that’s not right.”
For the village’s station, in addition to elevators, Pravato wants the restrooms to be upgraded to make them easier for disabled individuals to use, along with the waiting room upstairs, which as of now, “is in disrepair.”
“We have a thousand commuters go into the city every day and they deserve better than this for the taxes they are paying,” said Pravato.
Pravato made a note that the Massapequa Park train station is getting a new roof above the platform. While the original roof is still present, there was material that was blown off that Superstorm Sandy made worse nearly seven years ago, which led to leaking issues. But Pravato feels like just fixing the roof is not enough and cited other stations that have been completely upgraded.
“We have seen train stations already have two or three [remodels],” said Pravato. “Merrick, Bellmore, Massapequa, Seaford and Wantagh all needed to be fixed and they were all built beautifully new. We need to be taken care of here in Massapequa Park. We’ve been neglected over the years. We’ve done walkthroughs with various LIRR presidents. I’ve gotten promises that it’s in the next capital project and that has not been done.”
Leading the charge on getting this done is Assemblyman Mike LiPetri of Massapequa, who is currently urging the state legislature to put the necessary funding aside in the MTA capital program to finish fixing the LIRR’s ADA non-compliance issues.
“The plan is to include [these efforts] in the capital funding for the next five years,” said LiPetri. “There’s about 15 train stations on the island that remain non-compliant. It’s important for Massapequa Park to receive that compliance. We only have stairs and escalators there and if that escalator breaks, we’re in trouble.”
LiPetri and Pravato met in January when the assemblyman first took office, with Pravato telling LiPetri that it was important to get this train station fixed. In response, LiPetri made the MTA aware of the issues with the train station, which led to them scheduling roof repairs for the fall. According to him, the MTA made clear that they need the necessary funding in order to move forward with the ADA-compliance work.
“My biggest push right now is to have this included in the 2020-21 budget,” said LiPetri. “The veterans community and the disabled community should be the top priority for any representative, period.”
In a statement to the Massapequa Observer, Senator John Brooks, who represents Massapequa Park in the state Senate, says that he’s been working on this issue for some time and believes the LIRR will follow through on getting this issue solved.
“I have been working with President [Phillip] Eng and the LIRR to address this issue for the last three years,” said Brooks. “Ensuring equal access for all to the LIRR is a priority we all agree on. The upcoming capital plan, proposed by President Eng, does include the necessary accessibility improvements along the Babylon Line to achieve this goal. Progress is being made.”
The ADA was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990. It prohibits discrimination based on a person’s disability and requires employers to provide accommodations for both its employees and those in the public who deal with these disabilities. This has led to the creation and use of disabled-friendly modifications, including handicap parking spaces and ramps, throughout many public facilities in the country.