The future of Huntington Station’s commercial strip along Route 110 is gradually taking shape under the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative.
In January, the state awarded Huntington $10 million to upgrade the hamlet’s cluttered commercial area, with new housing, and changes for traffic and parking all a part of mix.
Proposals on the table are sponsored by the town, local institutions such as the Huntington Public Library, or, in the case of housing, two holding companies, one of which was formed seven months ago.
Several public meetings that have been going on for the last few months have revealed the projects that are most likely to be presented for state approval. Huntington residents have proposed numerous ideas, from moving social service programs to the area to repairing the derelict State Armory on East Fifth Street.
Some longtime residents of Huntington Station have been wary, reminding everyone of failed urban renewal projects in the late 1960s, but others have been eager to see upgrades for the area and have offered numerous suggestions.
The DRI team acknowledges the past failures of renewal, writing, “…by the late 1960’s, the federal urban renewal program had led to the demolition of the 86 businesses surrounding the railroad station that comprised the economic center and vital core of Huntington Station. This failed program altogether eliminated the economic, social and cultural center of Huntington Station, creating blight, a lack of a downtown, and the overall devastation of a cultural epicenter.”
The proposals emphasize walkability and safety for an area known for busy traffic and a roadway that can be difficult to traverse. Numerous crashes, often involving bicyclists or pedestrians, have been recorded in the crowded area over the years. They favor larger sidewalks, and less parking.
The DRI statement said the goal is to transform the area through mixed-use projects, expanding the availability of broadband, relocating or burying utility wires, creating a centralized park or public gathering space, implementing a business façade program and making streetscape and transportation improvements.
Several experts acknowledge that transforming the area could mean big changes for the small businesses shoehorned into the Route 110 strip.
The proposals as identified now are grouped into four general topics:
- Connectivity and safety: Street improvements,making the area more walkable, adding kiosks to provide information, and strengthening broadband.
- Culture and community: Renovations for two key Huntington Station institutions that provide services to residents, the Station branch of the Huntington Public Library, and the community room and food bank services of St. Hugh of Lincoln Church. A third project would be for a community center at the incoming Dolan Family Health Center, which is moving to 1572 New York Ave., from Greenlawn.
- Business and economy: A film and television center on 4.9 acres of space, to be located just south of the Long Island Rail Road tracks. This town-proposed project envisions studios, screening room, production offices and more. Also in this category is money for improvements for business facades, such as windows, signage and exteriors.
- Housing and revitalization: Housing ideas are mostly clustered in the general area of the Depot Road-New York Ave. intersection, at 1291, 1264-1268 and 1328 New York Ave. Another housing proposal would take Lot 22 of the LIRR parking lot north of the rail station.
The DRI local committee will next meet in October.