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Foes of Building Demolition for Bank Win Support

Huntington 'not just another post war suburban 'nowheresville,' Historical Society says.

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.

Elizabeth Michael January 19, 2011 at 08:27 AM
I used to live up on Nassau Rd. I would walk into the village to shop. The butcher, the bakery, the fruit stand, then to the A & P. I bought so much paint in Aboff's over the years. It is a beautiful old building. It needs to be brought back to life. Fairview does not need a drive through bank, there is not enough room for it. It is not a good idea. It is very dangerous at that corner. Too many blind spots. I know the roads. It's a bad idea. Do we have enough banks now???? Don't we have enough cars downtown. Walk into Huntington. Turn the building into something that will benefit the village.
Walt January 19, 2011 at 11:55 AM
The place is an 80 year old eyesore.Get over it.
Marita Eybergen January 19, 2011 at 02:10 PM
I am in no favor of them tearing down this building to make a TD bank, but this building needs to have something done with it. Yes it is the heart of the village but the building has no character. It does not look interesting and there is no charm to this building to even make you notice this building. To me it looks like an ugly white building maybe that is why the town approved for it to be teared down. Maybe if someone where to reface the building to bring back some of its heritage and old charm, it would look better as you drive into the village. Look how beautiful Gunderman and Gunderman's building looks.
Lisa Gulino January 19, 2011 at 03:17 PM
Banks, along with mattress stores and doctors offices, belong on larger, commercial roads. The Village should have a diversity of appealing and interesting shops and restaurants that entice us to walk, commune with friends, eat, and shop (with plenty of opportunity for impulse shopping!). I'd like to see incentives for attracting businesses that make our lovely, historical Village a lively and pleasureable place to spend a few hours and a few dollars. Everytime I walk through the dreary, dank arcade from Main Street to Gerard Street, I imagine it brightly lit, full of fresh air, and lined with stalls for small vendors like local craftspeople and healthy fast food (good, cheap felafel anyone?), and perhaps some of the vendors and organizations we see at the Huntington's Fall Festival each year. There are so many things we could do to raise the quality of life in Huntington.
lauren January 19, 2011 at 08:07 PM
Put the bank at the old Tilden Brakes in HS 1000 New York Ave!!!
lauren January 19, 2011 at 08:07 PM
Put the bank at the old Tilden Brakes in HS 1000 Ny Ave!!!!
Allasn January 19, 2011 at 10:19 PM
I have no idea if it would be economically feasible to convert to stores/offices on the first floor and luxury condos on two floors above ala NY Ave and Gerard Street...and sand blast down to the original brick.
Jen LaVertu January 20, 2011 at 12:12 PM
actually I would like to see a healthy fast food chain at the old Tilden Brakes like PANERA BREAD!!!! There are NO fast foods places vesides Burger King (YUCK!) all the way past downtown. Stop supressing growth and achievment in Huntington Station and give us stuff that will improve our quailty of lives from the inside out.
Christina January 20, 2011 at 12:48 PM
I woul LOVE a Panera at the old Tilden Brake nightmare lot, but there would be a problem of people hanging out in there ALL DAY. They would need to monitor that so PAYING customers could enjoy a quick lunch in the comfort of Panera Bread. I also agree that we need an alternative to Burger King. Yuck is right!
Marita Eybergen January 20, 2011 at 04:16 PM
Kim you're right. We definitely need to start thinking positive energy. Let's start moving ahead with a good year and maybe others would feel the same. Besides not all stores in HS have people hanging around , that is because the store owner does not allow this to happen. It is up to the store owner to recognize this problem and do something about it. Take a good look at Community Supermarket on Depot Road that store owner does not allow loittering. And yes, I think Panera would do great there. Maybe the town will invite them to come to HS.
Jen LaVertu January 20, 2011 at 06:27 PM
We need to start somewhere and if we all take the "it's so scary" aspect and don't take a chance then it will always be the same if not worse. ANYTHING is an improvement over what we have now @ 1000 NY Ave. Putting ALOT of people coming in and out of a building to eat (like you see at the mall) actually scares AWAY the criminal element. Thats why we need commerce! All along with Avalonbay I kept saying "business NOT residents" will chase the criminal element away. Fact of the matter is criminals like low profile spots where people are not....put LOTS AND LOTS of people in the middle of a bad spot and they scatter.... I am telling you, Panera would work and I am starting to hear of some other viable ideas coming from the woodoworks.......
Christina January 20, 2011 at 09:38 PM
I guess some of you have never been in Panera. If you go to the one in Walt Whitman mall, there are people that PARK themselves there for hours with their laptops and buy one cup of coffee. So when people like me want to go in and have a nice full lunch (buying more than a cup of coffee ) with a friend or two, there isn't a place to sit . So, I never said "bad" people, I eluded to non-paying people. I would love for more commercial places in Huntington Station. I agree, more paying customers equals less crime. Please no more housing!
Patched Out 2 January 20, 2011 at 10:24 PM
I am definitely behind this idea! I saw alot of activity over there today at 1000 NY Ave. so I hope someone is on the phone with Panera!
Clifford Sondock January 29, 2011 at 04:18 AM
Don't let the NIMBYs stop redevelopment of the Aboff building or any other new development in HV. HV needs more stores, restaurants, offices and apartments. Entrepreneurs need to be confident that if they come, HV will embrace them. Town Govnernment needs to resist appeasing anti-growth activists.
Vivienne Wong January 29, 2011 at 04:26 AM
@ CLifford - you don't have a clue! Huntington Village (ps - we in the Township have never ever called it HV) anyway, tomorrow I will walk on my way to the Huntington Library and count and then post all the empty stores. We have some stores vacant for 3 years. Please..
Kas January 29, 2011 at 04:50 AM
@Clifford- I have to disagree, although I understand your concern. There are two things at play here. First, we can not turn away business in our town for we depend on that business for our very survival. But second, those businesses that want to play in our sand box because they understand that this is an above average income town must also abide by what we want and desire. If you want to build it here, build it as we want it. That is really not too much to ask for a major bank that wants to profit on our town. And our own town hall should share some of that desire, at the very least.
Peter Gollon January 31, 2011 at 02:38 PM
The purpose of local zoning is to regulate development consistent with the needs of the community. When variances are granted, while they must take into consideration the desires of the property owner or developer, but the OVER-RIDING CONSIDERATION MUST BE THE NEEDS OF THE LOCAL COMMUNITY. This demolition of the Aboff building and construction of a new TD Bank would provide three things to the central Village area of the Town, NONE OF WHICH WE NEED: 1. Loss of an historic and perfectly sound building in the Village; 2. More traffic coming to use the drive-up banking windows; 3. More banks. Within walking distance of the center of the Village we already have ELEVEN full banking facilities: • HSBC • Chase • Citibank • Community National Bank • Gold Coast Bank • Wells Fargo Bank • Bank of America • Bethpage Federal Credit Union • Chase Bank – 2nd location • Capital One • First National Bank of Long Island If the TD Bank people want to go where banks are needed, the stretch of New York Avenue between Broadway and Jericho Turnpike is an obvious area. And if they insist on being number twelve in the Village, there is an available building – previously used as a bank – just two short blocks away at New Street and Carver Street. Come to the Town Board meeting Tuesday night and make yourself heard – whether or not this is on the agenda. Peter Gollon

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