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Dwyer Responds on Avalon Project

'If it negatively impacts our overburdened taxpayers, I will certainly oppose it.'

Huntington school board president Bill Dwyer responds to a Newsday editorial.

On Friday, Newsday published an editorial stating that the latest proposal from AvalonBay makes sense for Huntington Station.  In the article, I am quoted as stating that as long as the development adheres to existing zoning, I would not oppose it. I would like to set the record straight on that point.

The previous AvalonBay proposal included housing density well in excess of anything allowed under current zoning descriptions.  The Town Board was attempting to create a new, high-density zoning description that applied only to Huntington Station and no other parts of the town.  The school board opposed this singular treatment of our neighborhood.  For this same reason we also successfully opposed a requested zoning variance to allow high density “senior housing” on Lowndes Avenue.

The editorial goes on to state that Huntington Station desperately needs revitalization and that bringing more people into the area would bring additional customers to stores … What stores I ask? 

New York Avenue used to be a vibrant commercial stretch that was replaced with parking lots and high density housing in the name of urban renewal.  That failed to help the area.  The Huntington Station Business Improvement District members are working hard to bring more commerce to the area, but they need more help from Town Hall, not more high density housing.

As for my personal position on the revised proposal, the financial and logistical implications of the proposed development need to be considered.  Since 2008 our school district has maintained flat per student spending while the other districts in the town increased per student spending by an average of 11.8 percent. As an elected official, I take the responsibility of providing affordable, quality education very seriously.  So when the true numbers regarding AvalonBay become clear, if it negatively impacts our overburdened taxpayers, I will certainly oppose it.  

Ilene Fucci May 16, 2011 at 02:34 AM
Every DEIS for our struggling community was grossly under estimated regarding the number of school children coming from high density housing. For example, the DEIS for Highview estimated that there would be 8 school aged children. This year there are 47 school aged children coming from Highview.
Jeff Moss May 16, 2011 at 02:36 AM
I am surprised and dismayed that a sitting BOE President would represent that there are no businesses in Huntington Station for residents, both new and established, to frequent. In representing a district that includes Huntington Station, it would be good for you to get to know the community you supposedly represent, an assertion I have heard you make repeatedly in the press and open meetings. It is sad, insulting, disappointing and disrespectful that you are so uninformed about our community. While we certainly seek to continuously attract new businesses to Huntington Station and recognize the significant impacts of Urban Renewal, portraying this community as anything less than the diverse and vibrant hometown it is, is offensive and divisive at best. In spite of the fact that you shut down a school, which has had a serious negative impact on economic development, a wonderful investment of over a million dollars has made its way to Depot Road for the new batting cage complex. The Food Plaza on NY Avenue has opened and is currently thriving (check out the fish department). We have Johnny D’s & Guiuseppe's Pizza in addition to Dominos. We have Outback, Burger King, Marshalls, Famous Footwear, Kmart & Home Depot. We have many nail salons, Shear Honesty, a popular hairdresser and many barber and beauty salon shops.
Sue May 16, 2011 at 02:36 AM
Building more housing will not revitalize HS. Bringing more businesses into the area will. But I'm not going to play tonite.
Jeff Moss May 16, 2011 at 02:36 AM
cont. >>> We have bodegas (yes it’s possible that some people enjoy ethnic food), a new bagel store on Broadway, as well as a wine specialty shop, vitamin shop, Dunkin Donuts and a Subway. We have Ahearns, a fabulous landscaping company and a number of home-improvement suppliers. We have three 7-11’s, a public library, CVS & Walgreens. I could go on and on. I hope you get the point. As School Board President, you should really get to know the ENTIRE community of families you serve. So while actively opposing developments, hiring land-use attorneys, answering editorials and getting involved in issues you think will get you elected, you might want to "stick to your knitting" and think about the issues that you can control-our schools and the educational programs you are tasked with delivering, and perhaps reinvest in a community that many of us love and call home-Huntington Station. You should visit sometime...
Mary May 16, 2011 at 02:36 AM
I think there are very appropriate ways for a BOE member to protect the tax base. In fact, the State cuts were not unpredictable and careful planning could have protected Kindergarten. As BOE President, you set the agenda. You had a chance throughout the last three years to get us on track, even in tough financial times. Instead you closed a school that the district has invested hundreds of thousands in over the last few years (roof, infrastructure, physical plant etc.) leaving the taxpayrs at a loss for their investment in buying in Huntington. Jim Cahill and you seem to ride the "fight the world" platform, but our schools are in terrible shape and need your help. Our schools need help and that's why we elected you just a few years ago. What happened?
Morgan May 16, 2011 at 04:09 AM
NO ONE is talking about "fighting the world" except one or two candidates who want us to believe extreme myopia is the way to go. This is about holding the Town Board accountable for the mess they are creating for us by pushing more housing where none is needed. All the businesses above -with the exception of the sports complex to be built - are in existing buildings which owe property tax whether there is a "thriving" business in them or not. More future tax would have to come from new buildings that don't exist at the moment.
heather May 16, 2011 at 04:38 AM
You ask what stores people can go to if they live in the Huntington Station area? Please spend more time in Huntington Station. This idea that it is Compton or some desolate land is simply not true. I do not live in Huntington Station, but I have spent many conversations over pizza at some of the local pizzerias, ordered from one of the three Subways, purchased Christmas gifts at the local antique stores, or enjoyed a nice Carvel treat in the summer. Lets not forget the Big H...My child plays Lacrosse at Manor Field.. I'm not going to write the many businesses I've used, but I would encourage you to spend more time in Huntington Station. Just because bashing the Station, the Town and the like have become popular doesn't mean it's right. I would hope as the President of the BOE you would know families and the areas in which they come from. Such a comment is hurtful. You shut down a school people really loved and rather than fighting to reopen it, you are writing articles about your feelings on Avalon and dismissing a huge part of our community. You can do better. And you should.
Jen LaVertu May 16, 2011 at 11:10 AM
Jeff the area around 5th street that the proposal is on only has the medical center, the lumber yard and the small shopping center accross the street. I don't believe NY Ave was being questioned. More Park & 5th :) It cannot support people of that magnitude as a "walkable community" ALSO.....The towns masterplan??? Horizons2020 has the area slatted for the "Hamlet Zone" Mixed used businesses with apartments above all only 2 stories....they need to stay in alignment with their own master plan all other emotional issues aside.
Amy May 16, 2011 at 11:19 AM
Similar to the comment John Paci made about "no one shopping over there" around Christmas time (Hmmm, guess all those long lines at the Big H were just my imagination), this is yet another slap in the face to proud Huntington Station residents. Also, are Huntington Station residents NOT allowed to shop in the village and the mall? I have never had any trouble finding places to spend my money. Just seems like a strange observation. I would have preferred this editorial from Mr Dwyer been about how he plans to address current overcrowding in our schools, a time frame or plan of action for reopening Jack Abrams, ways to restore full-day kindergarten, or some other education-related issue.
Joe Obermaier May 16, 2011 at 11:45 AM
I believe Mr. Dwyer said that the Station lacked the "vibrant commercial stretch" it once had. What Huntington Station has now is what has been called the 'Atlantic City' problem. There are not the walk-around spaces attracting people to come spend an evening, and their money, wandering from store to store, or restaurant to restaurant. Instead, we've created isolated oases that those who do shop in the area go from parking lot to parking lot. If I want to eat at Outback, I drive to the big H, park and go in. When done, if I want to see a movie, I've got to drive somewhere else. Or if I want to take the kids for ice cream afterwards, I've got to get in the car again. I never drive into "town," park, and then walk around window-shopping while deciding what to do or where to eat. I fear that's the same with the new Food Plaza and many of the other businesses mentioned, many of which are not in Dwyer's district, but in District 13. It may be, as was suggested to me this past weekend, that the central public parking lots in the village may have saved the village as we know it. It's certainly fostered the small-scale urban-ish hot spots that attracted so many of us to the area. Maybe that level of small-scale development is what's needed. Unless you can break the cycle of creating isolated areas of economic activity, these badly needed new businesses won't bring back that vibrancy, anymore than the mall has brought that vibrancy to Melville.
Amy May 16, 2011 at 12:10 PM
Prior to discussing the "vibrant commercial stretch" he said "bringing more people into the area would bring additional customers to stores … What stores I ask?" So, we're both right:) Truthfully, your post puts a nicer spin on Mr Dwyer's editorial...maybe you should have written it instead, since many of us have taken offense to his choice of words. Adding insult to injury, it's 1 day before the election and Mr Dwyer has chosen to make a stand about revitalization and Avalon Bay...two issues (maybe 1 combined) that many of us feel once again illustrates the lack of emphasis Mr Dwyer plans to place on EDUCATION.
Amy May 16, 2011 at 12:14 PM
Hmmm...Heather's comment seems to be missing. It's a shame because it was a gently worded response to the article. Nothing offensive about it at all.
heather May 16, 2011 at 12:37 PM
Amy, it was gone...but now its back! But thank you :)
Christina May 16, 2011 at 12:51 PM
We need a BOE to make the Town Board listen! Stop dumping in school district #3. No more housing! If you want to live in Huntington Station, purchase a house and fix it up. There are many many houses for sale or rent. We don't need a complex. Hold the Town Board accountable. Its like they just keep trying to distract us with new projects. Fix what is broken, and that is a vibrant walkable Huntington Station.
Jen LaVertu May 16, 2011 at 01:03 PM
Alot of people abuse the "mark as inappropraite" button because they simply do not agree with what someone said and it is a shame. The only reason you guys are taking any offense to what Mr Dwyer is saying is because your still emotionally caught up in the "closing of a school" this issue has nothing to do with that therefore you emotionally charged statements are clouded by the issue at hand. Amy, I know where you live, I have had coffee in your home. Don't use your car for 1 week and run all your errands and at the end of the week tell me how you did. How many days did you break down and use the car because you couldn't find a foodstore within walking distance. Then take everything else off the table, Take the BOE elction out, Take JAI out and ask yourself do you or do you not support a project that will take away funding from our schools budget? Thats where you need to focus
Jen LaVertu May 16, 2011 at 01:06 PM
This quote speaks volumes today as I enjoy my morning coffee and online newsrags :) http://huntington.patch.com/blog_posts/every-dollar-counts from a recent article on the Patch. "Our strong property values are closely tied to the quality of life in our Town and the health of our local business communities is an important part of this robust vibrant lifestyle."
Amy May 16, 2011 at 01:53 PM
It's an interesting point. I used to live in Brooklyn, and I was walking distance to anything and everything. And then when I started having kids, I wanted to move back "home" to Huntington. And I like loading up my car and driving from place to place (there's only so much you can load in your granny cart when you're schlepping from store to store). I don't expect everything to be walking distance n the suburbs/suburbia, as I'm sure people who live in the Bay and live even further from the hub have accepted. But it would be nice to see more businesses come to my part of town. No arguments there.
heather May 16, 2011 at 02:19 PM
Well, i have to agree with you Jen about being emotionally attached to JAI. Its a great school and its closing emotionally effected the children who are now crammed into all of our schools....and closing that school caused a huge emotional divide in our community... AND, wasnt it EMOTION that got that school closed to begin with? Jim Cahill was a very loud emotional supporter of closing that school...... and arent you emotional about AB? There is nothing wrong with emotion or being passionate about a cause... Why would businesses want to open in a town with a CLOSED school? Why would anyone want to buy a single family home and spend money fixing it up in a town with a CLOSED school? It was the BOE's decision to close our school, not the Towns... This is what I would hope my BOE President would be focusing on......opening our school, spending all his effort on working with the money we have to give our children the best possible education. But he is not. Since the BOE has gotten involved with Town issues, this district has taken a complete nose dive............Dont believe in AB? Fight the good fight......rally, write letters, go to Town Meetings, start a civic group.....but please BOE, we need you now to get our district back on track.
Sue May 16, 2011 at 04:05 PM
Please no offense to anyone, but I don't agree in portraying our board of Ed as one that has been single focused on fighting the town for the past year. Not only were they involved in other discussions & decisions at every board meeting, but also at every board meeting most of the public commentary was focused on requests to change their decision about JAI. Why no focus on education during all those commentaries, why no questions about our failing schools? Why didn't anyone coming up to the mike meeting after meeting bring focus to another meaningful topics. Since it has been brought up that Jim spoke about safety at the school BEFORE the boards decision to close the school had been made, I feel it is only fair to state that Adam Spector only talked about the need to reverse that decision when he was at the mike. Never once did he voice any concerns about our failing middle school and high school.
Sue May 16, 2011 at 04:10 PM
Campaign promises are easy to make, but I think the proof is in actions. I was intrigued and very impressed that when our board member Brown ran for election she promised to take trips to Albany to fight for additional funding for our district. I'm not questioning that her heart was in the right place, it's just a lot harder to do the things you think you will be able to accomplish. So when I hear candidates talk about focusing on all these things to do with our district, but I have seen only 1 single topic brought up, it seems that the larger picture is being missed or not understood.
Sue May 16, 2011 at 08:19 PM
But why here......again? It seems time that another town and school district share the expense of additional children. As you say, we have the worse roi (and test scores to go with it ) from our surrounding districts. We were overcrowded even before JAI was closed. Additional space was already needed at the primaries, woodhull and the hs. So where do these extra children fit? How big are our class sizes going to get even when the day comes that JAI is opened. Why must it be in our overcrowded district that is struggling to fit who we have?
Sue May 16, 2011 at 08:21 PM
Truly if it's such a great opportunity why doesn't any other town ask to have it? Instead they fight tooth & nail to avoid additional building and the families that will come with it ( our neighbors in e. North port for one).

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