The Town of Huntington and several nonprofit organizations will receive significant infusions of money to fund cultural and downtown projects, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said Tuesday.
Accompanied by cultural organization leaders and elected town, county and state leaders who packed the Chapin Rainbow Stage at Heckscher Park, Bellone said two similarly named programs, JumpSMART and JumpStart, will bring millions of dollars to such projects as demolishing the old Chase Bank at Gerard Street and New York Avenue to expand parking, funding upgrades of the Huntington Lighthouse, funding for the future Huntington African American Museum, as well as money for the Whaling and Heckscher Museums.
Suffolk Legislator Stephanie Bontempi said, “This is a truly an absolutely wonderful day. I think it is accurate to say that today was a historic occasion with respect to Huntington receiving so many significant Suffolk County grants.”
Huntington Supervisor Ed Smyth said that he and Councilman Sal Ferro had been talking with Bellone about several projects since the beginning of Smyth’s term, promoting Huntington’s downtown and cultural importance to the region.
“It’s a variety of projects that we’ve been working on in many cases for years to get them going to get them started, and most importantly, to get them funded,” Smyth said. “There’s no shortage of great ideas in the town and no shortage of great projects to move forward but without funding, it just remains an idea. With funding, it becomes a reality.”
The removal of the former Chase bank is at or near the top of the list of projects, Smyth said. That project will include removing the grass median between the Chase lot and the adjacent municipal lot to create more parking spaces. “That’s going to be one that’s the most visible and fastest,” he said.
“There’s so many good ideas,” Smyth said. But, “they crash against the rocks of municipal finance.”
Funding is expected to begin coming in the next year. The projects are:
- Huntington downtown parking and waterfront improvements ($1.25 million –JumpStart);
- Greenlawn downtown streetscape improvements ($650,000 JumpStart)
- 1653 Foundation – Artists Alley in Huntington downtown ($250,000)
- Heckscher Museum of Art – development of an outdoor café on the terrace of the museum ($100,000)
- Huntington African American Museum ($500,000)
- Huntington Arts Council – door and window replacement and ADA upgrades ($157,000)
- Huntington Cultural Affairs Institute – Chapin Stage ($170,000)
- Huntington Lighthouse Preservation Society ($100,000)
- YMCA of Long Island – Huntington ($500,000)
- The Whaling Museum and Education Center – expansion of museum ($300,000).
“The arts and small businesses are the heart of every community and these important grants will play a key role in helping our downtowns flourish. Thank you to all involved in helping propel our downtowns into a new era,” Legislator Manuel Esteban said.
Legislator Manuel EstebanAmong those on stage were: Bontempi, Suffolk Legislators Esteban, Jason Richberg and Kevin McCaffrey, Ferro, tax receiver Jillian Guthman, State Assembly members Steve Stern and Keith Brown, State Sen. Mario Mattera, Sarah Lansdale, commissioner of the Suffolk County Department of Economic Development and Planning, Bob Fonti of the Long Island Alliance of Chambers of Commerce, Barry Lites and Irene Moore of the African American Museum, Pam Setchell of the Huntington Lighthouse Preservation Society, and Robert Hughes of the Huntington Historical Society.