Government officials and a small group of curious citizens congregated at Columbia Street and Lowndes Avenue on Tuesday afternoon to witness another step in the Town of Huntington's plan to revitalize Huntington Station.
Town Supervisor Frank Petrone said the demolition of three dilapidated houses was just the beginning of the Take Back the Block program – the latest measure to breathe new life into the Huntington Station community and bring affordable housing to the area.
"Our Take Back the Block dreams are coming true," Petrone said. "The purpose of this project is to provide affordable housing for stable families, and not those involved in criminal activities. We've taken this block back … today [the revitalization of Huntington Station] is starting."
The town has been working to acquire the three residences since plans for the rebuilding was proposed last year. Ownership of the private property was attained this past July, when the houses were purchased by Suffolk County and with money from the Town's Affordable Housing Trust Fund for $778,000. An additional $100,000 is being contributed for infrastructure improvements, and a Restore NY Communities grant of $1.56 million will fund the construction of 16 units of affordable housing.
"This is the product of a lot of hard work between all levels of government," Councilman Mark Cuthbertson said. "We will continue to make this a vibrant community."
Once constructed, the 16 units, contained in eight duplexes, will be made available by lottery, and granted to first-time home-buyers who meet income requirements and are members of the Huntington school district. The lottery will be held in September 2011 in order to have the future residents moved in by December 2011.
"Housing is something we need in the Town of Huntington," Councilwoman Glenda Jackson said. "We're looking toward bigger and better days."
Town officials said in order to complete the project, the Community Development Agency will need to obtain a zone change and subdivide the property into eight parcels, as well as acquire health department approvals from Suffolk County.
"This project really goes to show how the different levels of government work together," Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy said. "One of the best ways to reduce crime in the neighborhood is stability. It becomes contagious when people see government involved in the community. We're giving a sense of hope."
The acquisition and demolition of the three residences was the third project under the Take Back the Block program, and was perhaps was the most physically present step toward the town's goals.
Before the razing, Levy exclaimed, "Let's knock down these buildings and build up this community!"