Updated: Huntington Democrats Issue ‘Talking Points’ on Melville Project

Updated: The Huntington Democratic Committee issued suggested talking points Monday night for members plannng to attend Tuesday’s Town Board meeting and public hearing on the Melville Town Center proposal.

Several points raised in the Democrats’ letter express doubts about different aspects of the proposal, calling it “vague on the developers’ impacts with the potential for unintended and avoidable consequences.”

But the committee did not take a position on the overall project itself but rather posed questions for members if they planned to address the board on Tuesday. The letter did include a sentence to recommend the tabling of the second of two resolutions, which would expand the project to area beyond the immediate downtown center.

The letter said that Johanna Stewart Suchow, a civic activist, and Don McKay, a former Democratic candidate for Town Board who has opposed other projects, had presented information to a subcommittee of the town committee.

The letter also encourages the board to define what it means by a plan to “pause” individual projects at certain points, and to strengthen affordable housing and environmental protections.

The proposal would create a downtown area in the Maxess Road area, and mixed-use retail/housing. Tuesday’s hearing is the third in the series of public hearing on the matter.

Both the groups opposed to the project and those working for more housing have been calling for their allies to appear at Tuesday’s meeting.

Councilman Sal Ferro, one of the supporters of the Melville program, said, “We’re just trying to do what’s best for Huntington.”

UPDATED: On Tuesday, Roger Weaving, president of the Huntington Township Housing Coalition, responded, “I am disappointed to see the Democrats come out  against the Melville Town Centre with a laundry list of delaying tactics.  They are a more sophisticated list than the civics used to produce, but then the Democrats have more lawyers and so can craft clever-sounding arguments that amount to “don’t do this- not in our backyard!”.

It sounds very noble to say “don’t make any changes until you’ve looked at all these things”.  And every project that will be built under these zones will need to address the environmental issues.  But as we’ve seen with the sewer line slated to run under New York avenue between Huntington train station and Jericho turnpike, that pipe alone has taken more than 20 years.  Claiming all these things must be assessed before allowing an overlay zone is a classic NIMBY strategy that assures that our young people will continue to leave, our elders will not be able to downsize, and our tax base will continue to crumble.

Don’t be fooled:  The Democrats couldn’t get the overlay zone, first proposed by Frank Petrone as the MEC plan, passed while they were in charge, and they are miffed that a Republican board might get the job done.  See the delaying tactics for what they are:  inside politics that is NOT in the best interests of Huntington.  The Democrats should rise above the partisan fray and work for the larger community’s good.

I always say “don’t tell us no, tell us how”.  The Melville Town Centre plan is a good example of ‘how\, and the town board should pass it.”

The Town Board meets at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.

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