Centerport Fire Department is getting a new neighbor soon.
Bob White, owner of the funeral home being developed next door to the fire department, answered a list of questions he received as well as questions from community members at a meeting of the Centerport Harbor Civic Association.
White previously owned two other funeral homes, one in Farmingdale and one in Bethpage.
While White said there have been no issues with traffic at the Bethpage location, he sees how it can be different in Centerport.
One of the first things White addressed was what would happen if the fire alarm were to go off during a procession. White said that everything would stop as the fire department has the right of way.
“Whether it be a blue light on a responding volunteer’s car or whether it be a fire department or ambulance vehicle,” said White, “they have the right of way no matter what and they take precedence.” He added, “If we’re late to a funeral because of a fire, so be it.”
White has spoken to the fire department and said he doesn’t think it’s a very big concern to them. He is working with the fire department as well, knowing their calendar so he can prevent booking funeral services during important days for them such as department meetings.
The biggest concern the community seemed to have when it came to the funeral home was how it would affect parking and traffic. Parking and traffic are already a big concern for the Centerport community, and many are worried that the funeral home would make it worse
“It’s not one single item,” said Tom Knight, co-president of the CHCA. He said many businesses in the area provide overflow parking and it becomes a domino effect. “Each one of these businesses impacts the other and parking is a very big part of it.”
White said that if necessary, employees would park elsewhere, however, he wasn’t sure what would happen to overflow parking at the moment. He did say that it wouldn’t run over into the fire department lot.
Traffic direction would depend on the size of the funeral service. If a smaller number of people were in attendance, direction might not be necessary. However, White estimated that there would be about five or six funerals a month.
He said that most services would be leaving the funeral home after people have already gone to work, therefore not affecting rush hour traffic.
In response to a question about what processions would do if an emergency service vehicle needed to get by, he said that the cars would move out of the way and let them get where they need to go.
When asked what he hoped the community got from his presentation, White said if anything it’s that he’s not a greedy developer and that it’s him and one other person. The two of them are going to be employees and everyone else is going to be a part-time worker.
Knight said having speakers come in and take the time to talk to the CHCA is reassuring that their voices are in some way being heard.
“The fact that everybody was here,” said Knight, “they spoke, they answered questions, they’re ready to take more questions and try to do something positive for us is a big, big leap forward.”
A prospective opening for the funeral home was said to hopefully be within the next three months according to White. He also said overflow parking is being worked out and more parking spaces are trying to be gained.
“We want to be a staple in the community,” White said. “We’re not here to create traffic problems or fight with anybody about anything. We’re here to serve the community and that’s what we’re going to do.”