HICKSVILLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Commuters are bracing for headaches when the parking garage that services the largest LIRR station on Long Island shuts down beginning Sept. 12.
Located across from Hicksville's modest downtown, riders are working with community planners to make the area safer and more pedestrian friendly, reports CBS2's Jennifer McLogan.
"I am here 43 years. People know what I do, what I serve," says Philip Zourous, proprietor of the landmark Sweet Shop restaurant.
Zouros says he yearns for the day when Long Island Railroad customers can safely negotiate four lanes of traffic on Broadway to come in and enjoy a good meal and dessert.
"Better for the community, no question about it," he says.
Diners at Zouros' restaurant concur, complaining the current road is difficult to get down and there's an urgent need for parking.
"Roads are designed for high-speed traffic to move as many cars through as quickly as possible," said Elissa Kyle of Vision Long Island.
Kyle is working with the local civic groups to come up with a plan how best to spend a $10 million state grant to revitalize the area.
"You can't expect people to walk 300 or 400 feet out of their way to get to cross walk," she said.
So far residents are demanding a pedestrian walkway, improved cross walks, curbing, trees, a new entry drive to the LIRR station and 200 residential units above stores.
"It is a really long commute for me so if there's affordable housing around this train station, that would be so perfect," said Daisy Ude, a college student.
Downtown changes come as Hicksville commuters prepare for a big headache. The $65 million problem-plagued garage must close for repairs. The town of Oyster Bay is suing the contractor. All 1,440 spaces will be lost for three months.
Leaders say they will shuttle thousands of riders from the former Sears parking lot a half mile away.
Workers will begin striping the lot next week to create temporary parking stalls. Town parking permits will be required.
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