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Brentwood's old LIRR station, and an even older one, get full renovations

The LIRR stationhouse in Brentwood is getting a

The LIRR stationhouse in Brentwood is getting a makeover, seen here Thursday. Credit: Johnny Milano

Changes are due to arrive at both the current and former Brentwood Long Island Rail Road stations.

The 31-year-old station building has been gutted for an extensive renovation while the century-old former station, after years of being vacant, is to be converted into a restaurant, LIRR officials said.

The present Brentwood station will be upgraded with new bathrooms, new flooring, free Wi-Fi and charging stations for customers, among other enhancements, officials said.

Down the block on First Avenue, the former station that is boarded up and surrounded by overgrown vegetation also will be gutted and rehabilitated. 

“For many of you, the concern is there is some homelessness issues, some loitering concerns,” LIRR community affairs manager Vanessa Lockel said of the old station building at an Aug. 21 Islip Town Board meeting. “Are we going to update it and fix it? Yes, we are.”

The former station was built around 1905 and operated until 1987,  until the current station was built for an electrified train line, according to records.

The empty LIRR-owned building, an eyesore for years, was converted into the Island's first solar-powered cafe that operated from about 2006 to 2009.   

The Solar Cafe closed after the owners, Christopher and Wendy Castro, pleaded guilty in March 2008 to charges related to fraudulently using criminal defendants in community service programs for free labor on three ventures, including the cafe, according to court and company records, and prosecutor statements at the time.

It has been vacant since December 2009.

“What does it say when anybody sees something blighted right in the center of town?” said Ellen Edelstein, president of the Brentwood Historical Society. “It gives a wrong impression.”

The new tenant is Shahid Haroon of Brentwood Foods Inc., according to the LIRR. Haroon could not be reached for comment. The company is listed as a grocery store in records. 

Construction on the restaurant is expected to start in October, pending an insurance review, Lockel said.

The work will overlap with renovations at the current station, which has been closed for construction since June and is to reopen by the end of the year, officials said. It will be given new benches and railings and will be more handicap-accessible, LIRR spokeswoman Sarah Armaghan said. Sidewalks are to be improved and new platform shelter sheds will be installed.

The Brentwood station is one of eight being renovated under the $80 million Double Track project, which will add a second set of train tracks between Ronkonkoma and Farmingdale, Armaghan said. 

Albert Bailey, who commutes to Brentwood for work as a contractor, said he looks forward to having shelter from the weather on the platform and hopes the upgrades keep "the bad element" out of the stations.

“It’s great for the community,"  the 45-year-old Wyandanch resident said. “Anything is better than a boarded-up building.”

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