With Lowe's on a planned a 103,000-square-foot home-improvement store and a 26,500-square foot garden center on the site formerly occupied by the iconic , which closed in 2007, the Town of Huntington is left with a big hole to fill.
Town Board candidates were asked at a Leaugue of Women Voters-sponsored Meet the Candidates forum Thursday at Harborfields Public Library what could be built on the site that would most benefit residents.
"Its incredablly disappointing, " said incumbent Town Board member Susan Berland. "We need to build something there that's going to generate jobs."
The longtime Town Board member recomended a mix use housing project for the site or a businees that could supply much needed jobs to the area.
"I fully plan to work with Lowe's and their representaives and help them with this process," said Berland. "It's a prime piece of real estate it's a great place to build something and we need to build something that's going to help our economy grow in the Town of Huntington and keep our jobs here."
Huntington Bay Mayor Herb Morrow, a Republican Town Board candidate said the site is ideal for retail development and he would support a project that creates jobs which is not too intense in terms of the of the traffic problem in the area.
"The to 80,000 square feet and that will happen over the next couple of years," said Morrow. "I will look to a project that had mulitiple stores but not a strip mall. Maybe a high-end addition to the mall area but not something that brought too much traffic in or too much intensity to an already very crowded section of Huntington."
Town Board member agreed that the loss was dissapointing.
"I think that we have to work with the private sector and really be creative about what comes in there and be really open-minded to it," said Jackson, an incumbent Democrat. "As someone who has sponsored annual job fairs, there is certainly a need for jobs so we certainly need something that is going to generate jobs and certain revenue," said Jackson.
Jackson said housing opportunities are should be on the table.
"I just think that we certainly have to be open to different opportunities that we could have in that particular site," said Jackson.
Independence and Republican Party candidate said he would work with Lowe's in an effort to keep the store here before moving forward.
"Just recently they filed permits in Smithtown to build a store," said Cook. "If I was on the Town Board, I'd find out why."
Cook said he would see if he could get them back into Huntington.
"I'm not sure why they pulled out, who knows, but if they filled permits in Smithtown that says something. I would work with Lowe's and try to get them back, if that wasn't the case then we could bring something else very similar to that.
He said as a businessman, he would do whatever he could to bring business back to Huntington.
Edtor's note: Write-in Town Board candidate was not invited to attend any of the Meet the Candidates events.