For commuters using the Long Island Rail Road’s (LIRR) East New York train station yesterday morning, the stench of human excrement and barely readable signage were the start of a normal commuter day, but for Brooklyn Borough President Eric L Adams it was Exhibit A in highlighting the lack of funding and priority given to stops that serve mainly black and Latino residents.
Adams led a walking tour through the run-down station to highlight how the latest Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Capital Plan seemingly forgot to include even the most basic work on this facility.
The Plan invested $32.5 billion into specific MTA renewal programs, $3 billion of which was allocated for LIRR improvements. Of the seven stations selected as priority projects, Nostrand Avenue received $21 million, Port Washington received $13 million and Babylon Station received $38.9 million with another $25 million being split among five other LIRR stations; however none was specifically allocated for the ENY station.
“The MTA cannot start correcting blight, when a community turns white, it must correct blight whenever it sees blight and they [MTA] are not doing it here [ in East New York]. It is the wrong message being sent,” said Adams, noting that the Nostrand Avenue station received funding due to it’s location in the middle of a “gentrifying” neighborhood.
But according to the MTA, they have already made crucial upgrades to the station including lighting and safety measures and plan on improving the station further in the following months.
“Maintaining and improving our infrastructure is essential. The LIRR recently completed upgrade work on the East New York station including installation of new architectural wall panels on the pedestrian underpass, new LED lighting and new fiberglass stair covers. At the platform level, tactile warning strips were installed on both platforms. The LIRR also plans to replace the signs at the East New York station, which includes installing new directional signs for LIRR customers connecting to the nearby NYC Transit subway stations,” said an MTA spokesman.
However, during Adams’s brief tour he was able to point out infrastructure weaknesses like decaying concrete, broken sidewalks, lack of handicap accessibility and security cameras at the station as crucial signs that the MTA is ignoring the troubled station.
“You don’t know where you are. There is no signage to indicate where to come in. You would think you were in a whole other system. Where are the mirrors that should be pointing toward the corridors, so I can see who’s hiding over here. It’s all about the safety aspects,” said Adams.
The station’s MTA fare machines are caged in as a preventative measure against criminal activity. Activity, Adams claims, would be curbed if increased police presence and appropriate safety precautions were invested into the station.
“To make a station safe get the proper police enforcement here. If you have a criminal element at any other station, they replace it with good law enforcement practices and principles,” said Adams, vowing that he keep the pressure on transit and the various government agencies to ensure that the badly needed basic work, and security attention is given to the run-down station.
“This is a predominantly black and Latino working class area and they are being treated like second class citizens in a first class line. It is unacceptable and we are not going to stand by and watch it happen,” he added.