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President’s Letter – March 2018

Hi Everyone

Spring is almost here and many of us are looking forward to warmer temperatures and getting outdoors again.

The Chamber met recently with both Suffolk County Economic Development and members of the Ronkonkoma Chamber and Civic Associations to discuss future development on the south side of the Ronkonkoma Hub. Several months back the county sent out a “Request for Qualifications” to the Island’s major developers to come up with their best concepts for utilizing the county owned land on the Islip side of the LIRR tracks. Four developers responded, each with their own unique ideas. The County will be working closely with the Town of Islip and community leaders to examine the best available options.

Many of our members are concerned about how the large-scale development at the Hub and Islip Pines will affect our downtown. Years ago, small downtown communities had to adapt and compete with “big box” stores and shopping malls. Now it is online shopping who is or soon will be the dominant player in the retail world. In order, to survive and thrive in today’s environment, a downtown must reinvent itself. It must attract restaurants, medical offices and specialty stores that will attract visitors.

Current zoning laws which were last rewritten in the 1970’s must be amended to address today’s realities. A mix of residential apartments and condominiums within a downtown creates a walkable community and less expensive housing alternatives for our residents.

We need only look to the transformation in Patchogue. Forward thinking village officials amended zoning laws, fought for increased sewage capacity and denser residential zoning. Now they have a vibrant and healthy downtown with an occasional parking problem. Downtown Holbrook was initially promised increased sewer capacity and we will see to it that those promises are kept!

As stated in last month’s article, the Chamber secured over $125k in State and County grant funding to complete a major street lighting project along Union Ave. from Main St. to Knickerbocker Avenue. An additional $100k was secured in state funding to widen and improve Railroad Ave between Coates and Main St. These worthwhile projects will visually improve our downtown and increase pedestrian safety.

Unfortunately, on a sad note, the utility poles situated in the roadway of Furrows Rd (near the corner of Main St.) will remain there indefinitely. It seems that the commercial property owners of 960 Main St. did not wish to allow relocation of the poles by dedicating a 3ft strip of land to the Town of Islip. The Chamber had secured over $180 K in grant funds to install new drainage, curbs and sidewalks in return for the dedication. The project would have been a “win win” for all parties concerned. The Town may eventually consider eminent domain to resolve the issue.

On April 24th there will be a Special Election for the NYS Assembly seat vacated by former Assemblyman Al Graf. The candidates Deborah Slinkosky and Doug Smith are both Holbrook residents and we urge our members to get out and vote.

Finally, the chamber would like to wish everyone a safe and Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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