President’s Letter – April 2012
Greetings Once Again,
After one of the mildest and lightest amounts of snow, old man winter has quietly moved on and spring has now sprung. On Saturday April 21st, The Holbrook Beautification Committee, Legislator Lindsay and the Holbrook Chamber will host our semi-annual “Holbrook Clean-up Day”. We will meet at the Seneca Middle School on Main St. (9 AM) and there everyone will receive clean-up supplies and direction. If you want to take part in a great community cause, stop down and join your neighbors in making Holbrook a more beautiful and cleaner place.
I would like to take this opportunity and thank the Chamber’s Board of Directors and membership for installing me as their President for a 7th consecutive term. It is both humbling and rewarding to know that I will continue to lead such a hardworking and wonderful organization for another two years. We have accomplished a lot over the years but there is still so much yet to be done.
On Thursday evening March 22nd, Both the Chamber’s Vice President Kevin Guilfoyle and myself attended the Town of Islip Change of Zone Public Hearing for the Islip Pines Project located on the northeast corner of Veterans Hwy and the Sunrise Hwy West Service road interchange. Also in attendance were the Legal & Architectural team of the developer, Sayville, Bayport, Oakdale, Bohemia and Ronkonkoma Chambers and Civic groups, members of the local builder’s unions, a handful of industrial business owners and last but not least “Residents came out in droves to say no to a development plan in Suffolk” as quoted from a 3/23 News 12 excerpt. The residents were mostly all from Holbrook more specifically the Parkland Development right behind the proposed project, closely neighboring Autumn Ridge, Bishop Lane & Church Street communities as well.
The Islip Pines Project has been in the planning stages for many years and has undergone several revisions to the size, scope and overall content of the master plan. Currently, this site is zoned as a 135 acre industrial use 1 only property. The property owner is seeking a change to what has recently been deemed a “mixed use” of mid to large sized Retail, 200 residential units with the balance remaining as industry.
The proposed project has raised numerous concerns within the Holbrook community both residential and business wise. The obvious fears of the residents neighboring the Pines, is the huge influx of additional traffic to an already very busy area which will lead to both congestion and serious safety issues. Other concerns raised from Parkland residents were the location of the industrial portion of the project which is positioned next to a large number of homeowner’s backyards. Parents expressed a deep worry about excess sewerage being pumped out of the treatment plant located within the Parkland community of which the developer has acquired a significant amount of capacity. One mother spoke about the already large amount of sewerage transport trucks that currently sweep up and down a block that hosts a school bus stop and dozens of children at play. With the large proposed retail use, the sewerage treatment utilization will be significantly increased over a site which would only support an industrial complex. Autumn Ridge residents are also concerned with current traffic issues that exist with Costco and now adding even more volume with a proposed access road between the residential properties and Costco leading into the Pines.
In joining our Holbrook resident’s concerns, it should be noted that I grew up in the Parkland development and my parents still reside in the same home we moved into some 36 years ago. My Mom & Dad live only two blocks from this proposed development. Anyone ever heard the term “this is very close to home”? Well, for this child of the community who grew up to own and operate a local business in Holbrook and from there lead his town’s Chamber this is as close to home as it gets.
As if hearing from the residents wasn’t enough, the Town Board also listened to the pleas of the local Chambers concerned about some 400,000 plus sq. ft. of new retail that is planned for the site. The retail portion includes a 16 screen movie theater, 200 room hotel and several national “big box” stores and restaurants. To the developer’s credit, his team expressed their desire to provide a tenant mix hat would not directly compete with the surrounding downtowns. Unfortunately, the unanimous consensus of all our fellow Chamber leaders was that this plan would indeed have a large financial impact on many of our already struggling local retailers & restaurants due to the recessed national economy. An argument was made for the Town to assist in developing and improving the current downtown areas most specifically Holbrook, Sayville, Oakdale & Bayport. I agree with my fellow Chambers but if this retail plan is approved as proposed, the war on attrition will surely be lost by the “Mom & Pop” little guys that have long occupied, supported and served our communities. Gone for the most part will be all of the fundraiser donations to the schools, clubs and other good intention organizations. The local downtowns have helped weave the very fabrics of their respective communities. I for one can certainly speak for Holbrook and all of our Main Street & surrounding business areas.
We fully understand and appreciate the developer has a right to build on his property. Surely in this difficult economy we would like to see our fine men & women in the unions working on a project in Holbrook. Naturally, we support more tax revenue being generated for the Town and School District as well as more jobs for both the local and surrounding communities. The only issue with all of the aforementioned is this cannot come at the expense of our local businesses and the welfare of our residents. With many establishments just getting by in these hard times, someone had to speak up and speak out and that is just what this Chamber is communicating to our elected officials on the Islip Town Board. Our position as of the writing of this column is as follows; The Chamber looks forward to sitting down with representatives of the developer, fellow Chambers and Civic Groups along with Islip officials to work on a more responsible plan from all facets that will benefit and satisfy most everyone affected.
It is unfortunate, that the developer waited until a week or so prior to the hearing to reach out to the Holbrook Chamber. The Officers and Board of Directors would’ve welcomed the opportunity to provide constructive input and guidance towards the planning of the Islip Pines Project. It is our hope and intent that we shall have more of a significant voice in shaping the future of this development which will ultimately serve the best interests of all parties.
In closing, it made me feel really good towards the end of a long night in Town Hall when I heard one of the residents from Parkland speak about how the proposed Islip Pines project with its large retail concept helped him and his family “rediscover mom & pop businesses”. This speaks to us all in that we should always support our local businesses as much as possible given the proven fact that small business is truly the backbone of our local economy.
A Happy Passover and Blessed Easter to all of our friends and neighbors!
Respectfully and Always yours,
Holbrook Chamber of Commerce