Today’s news:

LIJ opens parking garage for employees at hospital

Long Island Jewish Medical Center cut the ribbon on a $29 million employee parking garage last week that it said would help free up spaces for patients and visitors at the hospital's public garage while reducing congestion on neighborhood roads.

But one civic leader said it has not been easier parking on New Hyde Park streets since the garage opened May 1.

The seven-story garage, located on the north side of the LIJ campus off 74th Avenue in Glen Oaks, holds 1,100 employee cars.

"The employee garage... was sorely needed to make parking easier for patients and visitors, and to reduce parking and traffic congestion in the neighborhoods surrounding the LIJ Medical Center campus," the hospital said in a statement.

Employees had been required to pay to use the public garage but can enter the new garage free of charge, according to LIJ spokeswoman Betty Olt.

Mike Castellano, the Lost Community Civic Association acting president, whose territory covers the area around LIJ, said parking spots have not opened up in the streets near the hospital since the garage opened.

"There's not an empty spot on the block," Castellano said. "It starts at 6:30 in the morning."

He said the hospital "has been cooperative" by forcing employees who block driveways or park in No Standing zones around the hospital to move their cars, "but it's still happening.

"It's still an ongoing issue," Castellano said, noting that trucks making deliveries to the hospital have been driving down his block even though LIJ suggests they use a road seven blocks away.

"This is what we're up against and the hospital is expanding, so we're concerned," Castellano said.

In response, Olt said the garage has not fully opened and that only a couple of floors are currently in use.

The parking garage "is one of multiple building and construction projects underway at LIJ, Schneider Children's Hospital and Zucker Hillside Hospital to modernize and expand facilities to improve health care services for the community," the hospital said.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.

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