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Citgo Future Discussed At Joint Bellmore/Merrick Civic Meeting

Station owner agrees to curb hours of operation, responds to residents' concerns.

The North Merrick Library hosted a joint meeting of the North Bellmore and North and Central Merrick Civic Associations to discuss an ongoing concern of both communities: the Citgo Gas Station on the corner of Bellmore and Park Avenue.

The owners of the station, which geographically straddles both communities, currently have permit applications pending with the Town of Hempstead to renovate and upgrade the facilities on the property.

Proposed changes include converting the existing vehicle repair shop into a 24-hour convenience store; adding new self-service gas pumps; erecting a canopy and extensive lighting over said pumps; and clearing a path behind the existing structure to add additional parking.

Concerns regarding the impact of these changes on the people living in the surrounding area of the station prompted this joint meeting, said North Merrick Merrick Civic Association president Claudia Borecky.

“We’re worried that these changes will increase noise and traffic in an already busy intersection and negatively affect residents’ lives,” Borecky said. “Further, we’ve heard numerous reports of cigarettes being sold to minors and drug activity at this site. Extending business to 24 hours would further facilitate these activities and attract patrons who would disturb the local community.”

Dan Checkla of the North Bellmore Civic Association said that, while the existing station represents a blight on the community due to its current dilapidated state, he has conflicts about whether or not the proposed changes will do more harm than good.

"We’re concerned about the residents’ concerns about a 24-hour operation...that might be an infringement on their rights as nearby property owners,” he said. “On the other hand, the station, as it is now, is in a blighted condition. We’ve been working for years to improve this area, and the Citgo station really stands out as something that needs to be fixed up.”

Kevin O’Brien, Citgo’s attorney, attended the joint civic meeting to communicate the intentions of the station’s owners and address any complaints from members of the Bellmore and Merrick communities.

“We have to install new double-walled underground fuel tanks to comply with new safety codes,” he said. “While we’re at it, we want to make other improvements to the property, including expanding business to 24-hours a day. We’re here to listen to any feedback you might have about the proposed plan.”

One neighbor of the Citgo station, Jim Hamilton of Merrick, said that the planned changes to the establishment would only intensify his issues with the existing business.

“All the time, I hear noise, cars, kids blasting boomboxes,” he said. “I live right across the street, and if this place gets a 24-hour food mart, I’ll never get any peace. The noise will be worse than ever, bright lights will be shining onto my property. I will fight this tooth and nail.”

After further discussion with the residents present at the meeting, O’Brien conceded to some of their demands; including agreeing to scale back the hours of operation to some degree.

“Clearly, the 24-hour option is now off the table,” he said. “We’re open to discussing with the community what time they think we should close at.”

O’Brien also acknowledged the complaints against the Citgo station’s current operator, who leases the station, of selling cigarettes to minors. O’Brien said that the owners of the property intend to evict him from the premises as soon as possible. Lighting on the property will also be designed so that it doesn’t flood onto neighboring homes, and fences and landscaping will be installed to attempt to preserve the privacy of nearby residents.

What do you think about the Citgo property? Tell us in the comments below.

Liz September 01, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Looks like another witch hunt to me. While I agree that the hours should probably be scaled back, if not only to protect the "feel" of that area, why is it that every time someone wants to make a change for the better, it's met with so much sign waving and shouting, and usually only by a few people that happen to have the biggest mouths? Is what happened to Stop and Shop in Merrick going to happen to this gas station and every other place that wants to make an improvement? We don't live in the middle of no where, and if your home is right by a main road and store fronts, you are going to have people there, as well as noise, trucks and kids. Do you really feel that you've won with keeping Stop and Shop from expanding? Is looking at the old Escapes better? What's the lesser of two evils? At some point we need to move forward. Maybe we should send these people out to make a difference with the stop sign and speeding problem in Merrick. They're up in arms about Grandpa's Auto, but it's ok that people run stop signs left and right? To me, the safety of the community is more important and should be the first order of business. And Claudia Borecky is behind this again? What a shocker. Do you want to know what I think it an eyesore? Her husband's limos parked behind Foodtown. Last time I checked, that's not what that lot is for. And I'm sure if it were my limos parked there, or on the street, she'd have a problem with it.
Yesira September 01, 2012 at 03:03 PM
Hi Merrick, Yesira here from Compare Food. We are please to bring you the value and fresh foods you have come to expect from our Freeport markets to the Stop and Shop location in Merrick. We welcome any concern and questions you will have. Stay tune for Spring 2013! Yesira
KFC September 03, 2012 at 03:37 AM
Compare Food in Merrick?! Stop and Shop is leaving? This won't end well...
KFC September 17, 2012 at 09:16 PM
Yesira, Do you have more info on Compare foods coming to Merrick? How has this flown under the radar? Hey Merrick - Sometimes the devil you know...
Michael Ganci September 17, 2012 at 09:26 PM
We're looking into this during this week. MG

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