Senior facility mailing angers Huntington residents
A Massachusetts-based company mailed a brochure around Huntington to build support for a proposed assisted living facility but did not send it to residents who live closest to the project site and who have publicly opposed it.
Judy White, the Centerport-based spokeswoman for Benchmark Senior Living, acknowledged the developer did not send the flier to residents on Old Northport Road.
"The feeling was we knew how they felt," White said. "The reality was we knew we were going to be reaching out to them individually. Frankly their concerns are much more important than some of the larger community."
But residents who didn't get the mailing are crying foul.
"They have some rehabilitation to do with us now," said Connie Scaglione, an Old Northport Road resident who has helped organize opposition to the facility. "Their message by excluding the neighborhood was to say to us, 'You people are insignificant, you don't matter or your input, we only want people who are going to support us.' "
White said a meeting with the Old Northport Road community could come at the end of this month or early in May. She said Benchmark has received "huge" feedback from the mailing. The glossy three-part flier went out a few weeks ago, describing the plan, its benefits and asking for support through either a letter or attendance at a meeting.
Benchmark has proposed building an 87-unit, three-story facility on the 6.39-acre hilly, wooded plot near Washington Drive. It would be the company's first facility on Long Island. Huntington Town spokesman A.J. Carter said Benchmark has not yet submitted a formal application.
"We're a small community that has concerns," said Joy Osmun, an Old Northport Road resident. "If you see our signs, they are handmade, and then you have a multimillion-dollar corporation using their resources to get their point across."
Residents said they are opposed to the facility because the commercial building would change the area's character. They also have concerns about environmental issues, including the proposed sewage treatment plant. They submitted a petition to the town in December opposing a zone change to the land.
Joyce Lemonedes, who has lived on Old Northport Road since the 1970s, said she isn't against senior living establishments but a three-floor facility with a treatment plant "sounds like a very bad deal for us."