Day laborers gather on the sidewalk hoping to find work....

Day laborers gather on the sidewalk hoping to find work. (Dec. 17, 2009) Credit: David Pokress

The Huntington Station spot where for 12 years day laborers gathered to be hired by contractors will officially close this morning. The Family Service League, operator of the site at Third Street and Depot Road, will lock the gate to the property and close the book on what has been a contentious issue in Huntington Town.

Last month, the town board said it would not renew the Family Service League's contract when it expires Wednesday because of declining use.

"It's a tough decision that the town made, but necessary," Karen Boorshtein, the League's executive vice president, said Tuesday. "Even though there were men who had come to depend on it, many more didn't fully utilize the site."

The site on the privately-owned half-acre parcel was created in response to community concerns about public safety. Its purpose: to get workers off the street while still providing a place to match people looking for work with those hiring.

"But over time as the job market dried up people stopped using the site and went back on the street to beat the competition," town spokesman A.J. Carter said. "It was no longer what it was supposed to be."

Residents objected to taxpayer money being used to run the site and often cited it as a nuisance and an impediment to the revitalization of the area.

Boorshtein said her staff has been advising the men to use other services - ESL classes, counseling, family support and a food pantry - offered by the League at the nearby Manor Field community center.

"We have been letting them know we are not just walking away," Boorshtein said. "This is an interim period; we will be there to help them."

Boorshtein and Carter said their offices are working together to create a resource center that serves Huntington residents. Carter said one idea being considered is a virtual job match site where workers and employers are matched after pre-registering phone numbers.

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