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Group task: How to spend $9.7M to boost downtown Central Islip

A committee has six months to come up with a list of development projects along Carleton Avenue to fund with state revitalization money.

About $10 million in state funding will be

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

A committee is on the clock to meet a state-imposed deadline to determine how to spend nearly $10 million to revitalize a stretch of Central Islip.

The 17-person committee met last week and began brainstorming how it will distribute $9.7 million among prospective development and rehabilitation projects on Carleton Avenue.

Committee members were told by representatives of HR&A Advisors Inc., a consulting firm in New York City, they have until the end of March to prioritize where the money will go. Central Islip was the recipient of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s third annual 2018 Downtown Revitalization initiative grant. HR&A will be paid $300,000 to guide the committee. The consulting firm was chosen by the state and is being paid from state funds.

“You will drive the identification and prioritization of the process,” Jee Mee Kim, with HR&A, told committee members. “You’re really our boss. You will tell us what to do.”

Islip officials have said grant money will go toward refurbishing the Carleton Avenue corridor, from the Central Islip Long Island Rail Road station south to Smith Street.

Nancy Manfredonia, a resident of Central Islip for 50 years and the special projects coordinator with the Central Islip Civic Council, sits on the committee.

Manfredonia, like others on the committee, expressed skepticism they can meet the deadline. She said she understands the profound task the committee has in front of it. 

“I am looking for a little more input from the consultants and the state,” Manfredonia said. “If we are going to meet this tight deadline, we will need some serious suggestions from them. … Money talks, and $10 million is a lot of money. It’s a real godsend. I don’t want to see a lot of fluff. I want to see some serious ideas and some serious projects that we can get to work quickly.”

Among the community stakeholders on the committeeare Islip Supervisor Angie Carpenter, Long Island Ducks owner Frank Boulton,  Norman Wagner, school board president for the Central Islip School District, a representative with Suffolk County police and a representative of National Grid. Carpenter serves as the committee's chairwoman.

Some projects under consideration include renovating a former firehouse on Carleton Avenue, building a mixed-use retail and housing development, renovating the railroad station and improving nearby streets.

The committee will meet once a month through the spring. There will also be three public forums to collect community input, officials said.

Carpenter expressed to the committee last week that sustainable projects are key.

"We don’t want to do a show thing that five years down the road, someone goes, ‘Well, that was a total waste,’" Carpenter said. "But five years down the road, they’re going to look at it and say, 'They got it right. They knew what they were doing.’”

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