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Mill Basin residents want answers from Lowe’s

Mill Basin residents are demanding answers from Lowe’s executives about how the new store on Avenue U will impact their quality of life.

“We’ve been trying to reach out to Lowe’s for a year,” explained Paul Curiale, president of the Mill Basin Civic Association.

Among the questions for Lowe’s representatives is whether drivers will be charged a fee for parking.

“The parking lot %u2013 will it be free?” wondered civic member Debbie Malone.

If so, “you’re going to have all the people from Kings Plaza parking in Lowe’s,” Curiale pointed out. “We have good questions. Lowe’s should come here to answer them.”

Another concern is that dollar vans will use the free parking lot as a makeshift headquarters.

“One of the issues that came up at the community board meeting [in 2008] was dollar vans parking there,” recalled East 51st Street resident Debrah Smith.

Maureen Rich, a spokesperson for Lowe’s, told this paper, “Per the plans approved by the city, the Lowe’s of Kings Plaza will provide free parking for customers and employees.”

Curiale wondered how the new store would impact traffic patterns.

“Are you going to have a traffic light there?” he said.

Residents said communication between Lowe’s and the community has been so minimal that some people thought the new store was kaput.

“They were so quiet. I thought they had gone away,” Smith said.

Lowe’s contends that it has reached out to the community.

Rich said. “Lowe’s real estate team met with local civic leaders and the community board when the process began and also provided contact information for follow-up questions. We work hard to be a good neighbor in every community we serve and we are always happy to listen to ideas and answer questions as best we can.”

The Mill Basin Civic has repeatedly called and written letters to Lowe’s requesting that a representative attend a civic meeting to answer residents’ questions about the new store, which will open adjacent to Kings Plaza. But the civic says it hasn’t received a response.

“We’re trying to get Lowe’s here. Lowe’s should come here because we are the prime people who shop at Lowe’s,” Curiale said.

Time is of the essence, apparently. One resident said a sign is now posted at the construction site announcing the store’s opening date as February 2010.

Rich said, “We will always consider meeting with a community group and in fact, often do so actively throughout the planning process.”

The store is being built as-of-right. After spending five hours reviewing project records at the city Buildings Department office, Curiale learned, “The plans I have now say there’s only one structure going up. We were concerned about a second structure because it would be enormous.”

Department records call for a single-story Lowe’s store and several hundred parking spaces, Curiale said.

“The only thing they have to do is there has to be an opening near the water,” Curiale said.

“We’re trying to keep tabs on them,” Curiale added. “They have the right of way.”

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