It’s not as big as the eight-year, $2 billion plan to turn 77 acres around a ’scaled down’ Nassau Coliseum into a biotech campus for Long Island.
Nonetheless, the newest community-based effort to generate ideas for revitalizing Huntington Station is coming from the same organizational vortex.
The organization? "Source The Station," an arm of Renaissance Downtowns, which is behind such activities as the upcoming Community Festival, planned for March 23 in a municipal train station parking lot on New York Avenue.
To be sure, the upcoming festival -- which will include children's games, art and craft vendors, community service information, food, music and tons of fun -- is a modest venture. But it is a clear indication that something bigger is going on these days for Huntington Station, thanks to the organizational efforts of Renaissance Downtowns -- a Plainview-based group headed up by Don Monti.
Monti is a well known figure regionally in real estate development and the hotel industry. Not just for the Nassau Coliseum plan -- among his accomplishments have been redevelopment plans for Nashua, N.H., Waterbury, Conn., Bristol, Conn.
More locally, he’s been involved in the effort to turn a former Superfund Site in Glen Cove into a complex of residences, businesses, offices museums, and ‘smart growth’ web of plazas, bicycle paths and walkways.
In his published statements, Monti emphasizes a “Triple Bottom Line” -- ie social, economic and environmental goals. As for the method, it is a kind of ‘co-creative’ effort. Local community residents help to shape plans -- making the community a ‘stakeholder’ in a project.
This is the process behind what is emerging as a transit oriented redevelopment of Huntington Station, from Olive St. to just south of the train station.
Utilizing the organizational opportunities of the internet, the organization -- which has as its local arm ‘Source The Station’ -- has been encouraging local residents to come up with ideas for potential enaction.
Residents submit ideas of their own, and are encouraged to ’like’ or vote for ideas. If an idea gets sufficient local support, Renaissance Downtowns will do a feasibility study.
So far, one idea has earned such a study -- a plaza-like center -- which could serve as a focal point for retail, office, residential and entertainment activities.
To its credit, Source The Station has shown evidence that it is locally based in its selection of community liaisons. That includes Andrea Bonilla, a product of the South Huntington school system, where she was an active participant and leader of clubs like Habitat for Humanity, the Latino Club, French Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, Student Government, DECA and Girls Leaders.
On the organization’s website, Bonilla states that she’s eager to “share with community members the value and opportunities that can come from working together in order to build an improved Huntington Station,“ particularly the Latino Community.
Then there’s community liaison Erika Forland, also a 2006 Whitman graduate, where she was a Captain for the varsity soccer, basketball, and lacrosse teams. Since then she’s earned a degree in English and Secondary Education and an MFA in Creative Writing for Children at the New School.
Her goal with Source The Station, stated on the Source the Station website, is to bring renewal, change, and justice “for all Huntington Station members, helping to ensure that young professionals, like herself, can live affordably and have jobs in Huntington Station.”
As conceived by Renaissance Downtowns and Source the Station, the March 23 Community Fest is one way to do that.