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On a walking tour, Smithtown and Suffolk officials talk improvements to the town's hamlets

Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio, left, and Suffolk County

Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio, left, and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, right, walk on Main Street near town hall on a walking tour of downtown Smithtown, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015. Credit: Newsday / Lauren R. Harrison

Downtown Smithtown is poised for revitalization.

That's what Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio discussed Tuesday afternoon during a short walking tour of the area.

Vecchio pointed out locations that are ripe for redevelopment, such as a vacant lumber yard on West Main Street directly opposite Town Hall, where owner Salvatore DiCarlo has submitted plans to erect a three-story complex of about 60 apartments and roughly 11,000 square feet of retail shops.

Vecchio also emphasized the importance of installing sewers -- noting the extra capacity would allow for the construction of apartments above stores, which town code permits, and the expansion of the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts to add a bar/lounge where patrons could gather before a show.

"The goal is to get sewers here," said Vecchio, adding there is a sewer connection in the vicinity of the Smithtown bull monument. "Different parcels will certainly gentrify, that theater will boom again, you'll see more restaurants, and I think you would just have really a vivacious downtown" after sewers are installed.

As the pair walked, Bellone told Vecchio that he had the "right kind of vision for what's needed in downtown Smithtown . . . At the end of the day, we can figure out infrastructure, but without the vision, it doesn't work."

Bellone relayed similar words to the Kings Park Chamber of Commerce and Kings Park Civic Association, saying that he would help them get county, state and federal funding for sewers if a vision for downtown Kings Park was developed with the support of all stakeholders. The community groups and a donor have hired Vision Long Island, a planning group that develops smart-growth plans.

It's not the first time talk of improving the downtown areas has emerged.

In February, the planning department submitted a draft update to the town's master plan to the town board, including various recommendations for downtowns throughout the town's six hamlets, said David Flynn, Smithtown's planning director. They included the creation of pedestrian-friendly business districts and civic attractions such as museums and parks in downtowns, as well as the construction of on-street and off-street parking and apartments above and behind stores.

In April 2014, the Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency selected Smithtown and Kings Park hamlets, along with three other municipalities, to receive a total of $300,000 in planning services from the Regional Plan Association, an independent urban research and advocacy organization that works in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut metropolitan region. The organization is analyzing the downtown areas in both hamlets for future redevelopment, officials said.

On Tuesday, Vecchio also said the downtown's proximity to the Smithtown Long Island Rail Road station and restaurants would be attractive qualities for young people.

Bellone shook Vecchio's hand and said he was committed to trying to bring sewers to the area.

"November 4th, the day after the election, we have a meeting," Vecchio quipped to Bellone, who is running for re-election.

Also on the walking tour were: Deputy Suffolk County Executive Eric Kopp, Suffolk County Director of Planning Sarah Lansdale, Deputy County Executive for Administration Peter Scully, Suffolk County Director of Sustainability & Chief Recovery Officer Dorian Dale and Smithtown Town Councilman Thomas McCarthy.


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