After several contentious months and efforts by the Bellmore Lions Club and REAL Church to resolve what both consider an unacceptable situation, there has been no resolution regarding Sunday morning and afternoon use of a section of the Bellmore Long Island Railroad parking lot, which is used by both organizations for Sunday functions.
The Lions Club has hosted a Sunday Flea Market for several years, while REAL Church holds its most-attended religious services.
Both organizations were permitted by the Town of Hempstead to use limited areas of the parking lot for the events but they have been unable to agree on how to allocate its use or determine what each organization is entitled to.
Lions Club President Nina Lanci said her organization provided cones and signs to allow churchgoers additional parking and expressed frustration about the church's reluctance to work directly with the club and its decision to engage in dialogue primarily with the Town of Hempstead.
"We have on many occasions tried to discuss this with REAL Church, but they do not wish to talk to any members of the Lions Club," Lanci said. "While the parking field is obtained by us with a permit, we have set aside a good portion of the parking spots for church customers and have provided volunteers to enforce this. To our surprise, this has not satisfied REAL Church."
According to REAL Church Pastor Michael Burns, the Town of Hempstead placed at least six signs in the train station which read, "Church Parking Sunday Only – ToH."
He said that Town of Hempstead Commissioner Bruce Halbert has been actively involved in an effort to remedy the problems and there has been no dialogue with the club since the Town of Hempstead took action by posting signs and establishing certain requirements with the issued use permits in the parking lot.
Lanci said Lions Club members visited the parking lot on the Sundays when there was no Flea Market to see how many spots Real Church customers actually used or needed.
"Their need or use is hardly apparent," she said. "It troubles the Lions Club that we have set aside more spots for REAL Church than they are actually using and it is still not satisfactory to them."
Both parties denied allegations that REAL Church is attempting to purchase the property, as it is owned by the Town of Hempstead.
"We have not purchased the parking area nor do we want to 'get the fair shut down'," Burns said.
However, the parties are not proximately close to reaching a mutual understanding regarding use of the parking lot.
"I don't see what else could possibly be done to satisfy the REAL Church, especially when they choose not to have dialogue with us and we already set aside additional parking for them," Lanci said.