Jen Hebert is a Democrat running for election to the Huntington Town Council. The educator, former school board president and mother of three discussed issues with HuntingtonNow.
There are two seats available as of January.
What are the top two issues facing Huntington?
Development and Housing Our town needs a comprehensive, balanced approach to housing that is responsive to both the desire to maintain the charm and neighborhood aspects that brought people to Huntington, and the need for additional housing for single-income earners, young adults and seniors. We simultaneously have a need for housing and empty commercial storefronts along the Jericho Turnpike corridor and in other areas of Huntington Township. I believe we could address both these issues by partnering with the developers to repurpose some of these vacant spaces as housing.
Environmental Concerns. It’s of paramount importance that we protect our waters and green spaces before it’s too late. We’re using far too many chemicals and pesticides to treat our lawns and gardens, and it’s contributing to the contamination of our water. We need to enact bold, creative solutions to address these issues that include upgrading our antiquated septic systems and extending our sewer districts.
We can also enhance our outdoor spaces and the community’s enjoyment of them by making small changes. I would propose a composting program at town parks and a commitment to plant native Long Island plants in our parks. In addition, I’d like to see more of our parks and beaches made accessible to our neighbors with special needs.
What needs to be done?
Concerns regarding the overdevelpment of our neighborhoods and green spaces is shared by residents and community members throughout Huntington. We need to stop allowing developers to down zone properties. They purchase these properties knowing they are zoned for single-family homes, and allowing this to happen clearly benefits their pocketbooks but ends up hurting us as a community. Neighbors and residents don’t want dense housing, and our infrastructure, schools and first responders will be overburdened by it.
I strongly believe there are still opportunities to add housing in Huntington that would be a benefit to our town. As I suggested, we have empty commercial spaces all over Huntington. I would like to partner with the developers to redevelop these spaces as safe, modern housing for young people, seniors and veterans. I think Huntington benefits from having people of all ages, and at all different stages of their life, living in our community.
What are your thoughts on the Downtown Revitalization Initiative in Huntington Station?
As a former school board member of Huntington School District, the effort to revitalize Huntington Station is near and dear to my heart. I’ve attended most of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative meetings with great interest. I’m very happy the committee has taken community input, as they decide how to allocate the funds. I am in favor of many of the ideas that have been proposed including the addition of better street lights for safety. But I was disappointed that the James Conte Recreation Center hasn’t been included in the plans. The idea of building the rec center has been talked about for years. There was even money allocated for it, and yet ground still hasn’t been broken for this important project. The families of Huntington Station deserve this rec center and have waited long enough.
What else should voters know?
As a former Huntington school board member, I have the experience and the proven record of being a strong, dedicated and accessible leader for my community. If elected, I would work the job as if it were a full time position, so I could provide our community with the time, energy and resources that the job demands and Huntington truly deserves.