Fairview Steet residents who have been fighting the demolition of the Aboff building at the corner of New York Avenue got a boost this week from the
While TD Bank won zoning board approval in December to tear down the three-story building and replace it with a bank branch, Fairview residents have been resisting its demolition, both for the building's historical value and because of concerns about traffic congestion and the safety of children who live in the area.
They believe that demolishing the building will change a site that serves as the southern gateway into Huntington Village.
The matter will next come before the Historic Preservation Commission on Jan. 24. Several activists say they plan to raise the issue at the next Town Board meeting on Feb.1, though town spokesman AJ Carter said the matter is not on the board's agenda.
In its newsletter Monday, the Historical Society wrote, "The building that was built as Hotel Huntington at the corner of Fairview and New York Avenues in the late 1920's is in danger of being lost. TD Bank proposes to demolish the building constructed at the apex of the Roaring Twenties which sits diagonally across from the Society's David Conklin Farmhouse museum. The society is celebrating its 100th year of owning and operating this museum, making it the oldest historic house museum in Suffolk County and one of the oldest in the country.
"The society has seen many changes over the years, most made in the name of progress. By no stretch could a proposal to demolish an iconic building marking the gateway to Huntington village and replacing it with a building more suited for Jericho Turnpike be termed 'progress.'
"Huntington is not just another post war suburban 'nowheresville.' For over 150 years, Huntington has had a real downtown that is home to stores, offices, restaurants, residences and more. To tear away at the fabric of that community is to threaten its very existence."
The building served first as a hotel and later as a series of department stores before it became the Aboff building and then home to Advantage Title in 2003.
Resident Lorraine Kelley who has spoken before the Town Board previously about the bank plan, said she opposes it because of the effect of the one-story bank on the look of the neighborhood as well as loss of a building with its history.
"The town has a master plan they put into the place a couple of years ago that says they want ot maintain the character of the village," she said. "To knock this building down would be like pulling a tooth out."
Dr. Jan Witkowski points to a 2008 town report, Horizons 2020, which laid out a plan that "charts a new course towards the future." It was published in draft form in July 2008. Under physical improvements, it reads, "Consider the following improvements to enhance the visual character of Huntington Village," which includes "Implement improvements such as landscaping, signage, and public art at key gateways" at "New York Avenue at High Street."
Witkowski was one of several people to address the Town Board on Dec.14 in opposition to the plan.
One Fairview Street resident, after describing traffic on her street, said, "In addition to safety issues crossing the street you are going to have problems just attempting to walk into town on the sidewalk on the north side of Fairview. If there are 3 drivethrough emptying onto Fairview Street we will also have the problem of cars driving over where the sidewalk currently stands. How are people supposedly to safely walk into town if cars are busy driving in and out of the drive through over what used to be sidewalks. Not only will it be unsafe crossing the street but now you won't even be able to safely walk on the sidewalk."
Clarification: This story originally reported that the matter would come before the Town Board on Feb.1. Activists say they are planning to raise the matter that day but it is not on the official agenda.