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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.

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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