President’s Letter – February 2013
Well here we are frozen solid right in the middle of winter. As I write this column it is a balmy 19 degrees, keep in mind this is Holbrook not North Dakota. As I grow a little older and hopefully a little wiser, I realize more and more how much the weather effects everyday business and life. I guess it is God’s little way of saying to us hey folks I still control something you cannot change no matter what technology you people can invent.
2013 looks to be another busy year for Holbrook. Late last month both our V.P. Kevin Guilfoyle and I had the opportunity to review plans for what has been labeled the “Ronkonkoma Hub Project”. We were invited by the developers Tritec Real Estate, based out of Setauket, N.Y. to sit down and discuss everything from the size and scope of the plan to how it will specifically affect our town of Holbrook. Although it is somewhat of an ambitious project, it does appear to us that Tritec has taken into account the impact it could potentially have on the surrounding downtowns. That being said, in addition to building residential apartments with a nice mix of commuter and workforce housing they are seeking to attract more regional restaurants & retailers. They made it clear to us during the presentation that they are not looking to compete with the downtowns but rather create a development that will attract visitors from all over the island. Conceptually, they want to make this a destination with the objective to offer attractions that currently do not exist within one location in our region.
Now of course the Chamber along with our good friends over in Ronkonkoma is still reserving decision until we see the plan develop more traction and have a clearer determination on the impact & traffic studies. Brookhaven Town Planning appears to be receptive to the project as well based on feedback we witnessed at the Ronkonkoma Chamber meeting on January 24th. Bottom line, something has and should be done with that area as it has long been underutilized given the growth of LIRR ridership over the years and the fact that it is a great location given its proximity to both MacArthur Airport and the L.I.E. This project most definitely will happen and likely commence sometime in 2014 with a proposed completion sometime around 2020. We will keep everyone posted as the “Ronkonkoma Hub” plan progresses.
It has been brought to the Chamber’s attention that an application for a TD Bank is currently in progress with the Town of Brookhaven for a location to be developed within the current Waldbaum’s center on Union Ave. The Chamber has attended Brookhaven Zoning Board of Appeals hearings and provided comment along with concerns regarding this proposal. I have also reached out to both Supervisor Ed Romaine and Town Councilman Tim Mazzeis’ respective offices and am still patiently awaiting their response at the time of this writing.
The Chamber’s position on the application at this time is as follows, while we are a pro-business organization and would welcome the addition of a TD Bank within our downtown, we have a sincere concern regarding the size of this plan with almost no consideration being made for increased traffic mitigation components in an already extremely difficult area to navigate during peak hours. Zoning has granted the applicant a 42% parking relaxation which in our opinion will set a dangerous precedent for future development along the Union Avenue corridor. The location of the 3 lane drive-up window bank is proposed to be within the northeast corner of the center’s parking lot directly adjacent to the old appliance repair building on the corner of Main & Union. Given the pending issues and potential traffic concerns the Holbrook Chamber is currently not in support of this development as proposed. While we shall remain wide open to working on a sensible solution with all of the concerned parties, it would not be in the community’s best interest for the Chamber to endorse the plan as currently proposed.
I can tell you quite candidly that during my years of leading the Chamber I have been questioned by concerned residents and business owners alike asking “how did the Chamber let this happen” regarding other commercial developments? Keep in mind, the Chamber is not an official government entity and is purely in an advisory position to our government officials when and if consulted. Based on the aforementioned, the Chamber has provided its input and now the project’s future impact lies within the hands of our Brookhaven Town Officials.
In closing, to all the lovers out there we wish you a very Happy Valentine’s Day. Please remember to utilize any one of our Chamber Member florists and of course Edible Arrangements for your loved ones. Kierstens’ Jewelers is also a great place to purchase a gift for that special someone. Keep it local and keep our town thriving.
All the Best, Always
Rick Ammirati, President
Holbrook Chamber of Commerce