Press Release From Elizabeth C. Black
Trustee Huntington School District
Candidate for the Suffolk County Legislature – 18th LD
Last Thursday (June 2, 2011) the Suffolk County Planning Commission approved the Avalon Bay construction project which Avalon Bay desires to build on East 5th St., Huntington Station. The good news is that the communities of Cold Spring Harbor, Greenlawn and East Northport will be spared the resulting pressures that such projects place on the community’s infrastructure and the inevitable decrease in the quality of life. The bad news is that Huntington Station will not be so spared.
The first time Avalon Bay brought its application to the County Planning Commission the plan was approved upon the condition that the proposed land use regulations should apply to all the lands throughout the town that are in the vicinity of our railroad stations. It was this requirement that killed the project. The fact that the Huntington Station community was against the project was not enough for the Town Board to drop their support. It was only when the Planning Commission expanded the land use regulations to include the lands in the vicinity of the railroad stations at Cold Spring Harbor, Greenlawn and East Northport that the Town abandoned the project. Projects that increase the density of residential use on the scale proposed by this project are wrong for Cold Spring Harbor, wrong for Greenlawn and wrong for East Northport. The Town Board was forced to recognize this fact. What they still fail to recognize is that such projects are equally wrong for Huntington Station. On June 6, 2011 the town Board approved the project with a 4 to 1 vote.
It seems clear to me that overwhelmingly the community does not want this project. Also, it is okay for this community to not like this project. We have watched a steady stream of prime commercial property converted to high-density housing, parking lots and parks. Recently Newsday cheered on the Avalon Bay Project stating that it “would get revitalization started”. Started? Where have they been? The community sees better. We see this as a continuation of a failed strategy, and one that will prove irreversible. There has been little measure of revitalization that has occurred from these “revitalization projects”. Some have done little more than take tax paying properties off the tax rolls and transfer the cost of services to other taxpayers.
At the same time that the Town was approving the project, the Huntington School Board voted 7 to 0 against the project. We live in a time when education is under assault from a voracious economy and the prospects for the near future appear grim. With the Avalon Bay project we have identified another agent against whom we must rally our ever decreasing resources. Those government officials who support and advance high density residential development of our property appear to be either mindless or in conscious disregard of its consequences on our children’s education and on the general quality of life for all. The zeal with which they seek to overcrowd our schools, hospitals and highways is matched only by their disregard in enforcing building codes and fighting crime.
We are being governed by some individuals who try to placate us with their jingles and slogans and do not address the critical issues facing our neighborhood. Huntington Station does not need this project. The School District does not need this project. Our highways, hospitals and sewage system do not need this project. The only thing that will be advanced by this project is the unarticulated folly that rests in the minds of those Town Board members who would vote in favor of it and the County officials, elected and appointed, who enable them.
Elizabeth C. Black