Letter: Opposition to Melville Proposal Relies on Backward Thinking

It’s hard to stay quiet when some policy makers and former elected officials are trying to sabotage a great economic development plan in the Town of Huntington that has been talked about for over a decade.

To read the argument that we should keep unused office and commercial space and empty parking lots “empty”for the long term, is backwards thinking and unrealistic in a post-pandemic world.

We know that across the country and Long Island,  commercial space is not being filled like it used to,  as corporations have downsized and turned to more remote options.  Why would we continue to lose money as a Town when the Melville plan reimagines what must be done in the 21st century.?

The Melville mixed-use development will be an opportunity to spark innovation by opening the doors of small businesses and restaurants, while creating a walkable downtown that many Huntington residents and Long  Islanders seek out across the many vibrant areas of our Town such as Huntington Village and Northport Village.

What better place to create more housing opportunities for young people, first responders, seniors and teachers than on already developed land in empty parking lots, with ample parking space.

While most new housing developments on Long Island are beautiful and something the community will be proud of, which this project will be the same, I’m excited about the opportunity of this plan providing  20% of the units below market rate.

We know the demand of housing in Huntington and across Long Island is high and the supply is low, so for many, this Melville plan is a no brainer. With companies like Cannon and SUNY Farmingdale down the road, college graduates and young professionals can actually look to stay in Melville rather than being forced to search for housing and jobs in neighboring suburbs in Westchester, New Jersey and Connecticut.

I give credit to Supervisor Smyth and 3 of the Board Members for allowing a public hearing this plan that will save Melville for the better by creating open park space, building needed housing and allowing the creation of new small businesses and restaurants. Unlike the critics who are fighting to save the empty parking lots and unused commercial space that turn into a ghost town after 5 PM.

Hunter Gross is a housing advocate, and vice president of the Huntington Township Housing Coalition.

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