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Study: Bigger population needed for Hicksville hub revamp

Commuters pile into a morning train at the

Commuters pile into a morning train at the Hicksville LIRR station in an undated image. Credit: Howard Schnapp

The population immediately around Hicksville’s Long Island Rail Road station would have to double to 9,200 or more in order to foster a walkable downtown area, according to an analysis by an economic consultant.

“You probably have too little density surrounding the train station to make it a strong marketplace,” Todd Poole, president of 4Ward Planning Inc. and land-use economist, said at a public workshop on Hicksville redevelopment last month. Poole said there’s a population of 4,600 people in the half-mile area around the railroad. “If we’re going to make it a strong marketplace I would expect that that half-mile population density is probably twice that much if not two and a half times that much. That’s when you start to develop a marketplace for housing, for goods and services that give a place vitality.”

Poole’s economic analysis was just one piece of the ongoing public process to reshape the area around the Hicksville LIRR station, which is undergoing a $121 million renovation. The effort to build transit-oriented development around it dates back more than a decade.

In October, Oyster Bay began holding a series of public meetings and workshops scheduled to run through March about how to use a $10 million grant from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s downtown revitalization program.

Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino has said the final plan will be based on public input.

The meetings are led by a local planning committee that includes state and local representatives. The next two meetings are scheduled for next Thursday. A planning committee meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. at the Hicksville Athletic Center, and a public workshop is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Hicksville Community Center.

Erik Wood, associate principal at HKS Architects PC, the New York City branch of the international firm that is working as a consultant on the effort, said last month that the next public workshop will focus on what projects should be priorities in Hicksville’s downtown. A future public workshop will look at how the grant money should be spent, Wood said.

Lionel Chitty, executive director of the Hicksville Chamber of Commerce and a planning committee member, said in an interview that community outreach is continuing as the panel discusses areas for revitalization and what residents would like to see.

“There will be no density beyond what the community wants,” Chitty said. Chitty said the contemplated amount of new housing in the downtown — 500 to 800 units — hasn’t changed.

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