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Central Islip community leaders submit top downtown upgrades

The final list of projects now goes to the state for approval. Revitalization funding will come from a nearly $10 million grant the hamlet was awarded.

About $10 million in state funding will be

About $10 million in state funding will be spent to improve Carleton Avenue in downtown Central Islip. Photo Credit: Daniel Goodrich

A wish list of Central Islip upgrades is now in the hands of state officials, who will decide which projects to fund through a nearly $10 million downtown revitalization grant.

A 17-person committee, co-chaired by Islip Supervisor Angie Carpenter, worked on narrowing down proposals for the past six months. Development is focused along the Carleton Avenue corridor, from the Central Islip Long Island Rail Road station south to Smith Street. Central Islip was the recipient of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s 2018 Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant.

The 11 projects total more than $20 million in public and private investments. The state grant will fund $9.7 million of the costs. Projects backed by public entities would be eligible for full reimbursement through the grant, while privately sponsored initiatives would be eligible for up to 33 percent state reimbursement.

Some committee members spoke about their top picks.

Margarita Espada, founder of Teatro Experimental Yerbabruja: “I am a resident of Central Islip. I walk in Central Islip around the Carleton Avenue corridor. If people can walk into the downtown, stop in for coffee, stop in to shop, that would bring in people. We need to look for projects that would invite people downtown. There are old buildings, a lot of history. It’s important to showcase that.”

A proposed historic trail will stretch 5 miles and include markers for about 25 historic sites. The project costs $29,000 and is eligible for $20,000 from the grant.

Todd Johnson, board member of the College Woods Civic Association: “The idea of sewers coming into the downtown area will be the backbone of any future positive development in Central Islip.” He also supports a mixed-used building proposal at 69 Carleton Ave. “If that can be turned around, not only does it bring something positive, but it takes away something that detracts from the community.”

The mixed-use project totals $4.5 million and is eligible for $985,000 in state funding. A proposed sewer connection along Carleton Avenue between Smith and Suffolk streets costs $8.7 million and is eligible for $2 million from the grant.

Nancy Manfredonia, with the Central Islip Civic Council: “The key project would be the old railroad parking lot because I think that has the ability to give us some community space and also have people living there and stores there that will add to the vibrancy downtown. … That will be a combination housing, retail, office space and hopefully an arts center.”

Building a mixed-use development on the old LIRR site has a price tag of $10 million and is eligible for $3 million in state funding.

MaryAnn Pfeiffer, CEO of the Youth Enrichment Services: “I’m excited about the work that will be going on at the community center at Recreation Village and the senior citizens center. This funding will really be able to bring back kids and families and seniors into the facilities in a state of the art, redeveloped area, that we can engage everybody in the community in.”

Proposed upgrades at the recreation center are estimated at $1.5 million. Renovations to the senior center cost $1.8 million, and the project is eligible for $1.3 million in state funds.

Other committee proposals:

  • Connecting an existing sidewalk on Carleton Avenue to a sidewalk on Smith Street.
  • Improvements to the downtown streetscape to improve the pedestrian experience.
  • Establish a reimbursement fund for upgrades to buildings along Carleton Avenue, including exterior and interior improvements.
  • A new park and playground at Recreation Village.

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