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Cuomo: Central Islip to receive $10M in state funds to revitalize downtown

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaks with Joseph Hennie,

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaks with Joseph Hennie, a coach with Central Islip Little League baseball, at Touro Law School in Central Islip on Wednesday. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

New York State will spend $10 million to revitalize Central Islip’s downtown with new housing, commercial development and transportation improvements, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Wednesday.

Central Islip beat out municipalities across Long Island to secure the third annual 2018 Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant.

The investment will provide a boost to Central Islip’s growing downtown and attract young people to live and work in the community, Cuomo said.

“Millennials want to live in a downtown area,” Cuomo said during an announcement at Touro Law Center. “They don’t want to sit in a car. They want to be able to walk to a restaurant. They want to be able to walk to the train. They want to be able to walk to a cafe. That’s how they are oriented.”

Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter said the town plans to utilize the money to refurbish a roughly 2-mile stretch along the Carleton Avenue corridor, from the Central Islip Long Island Rail Road station south to Smith Street.

“Our community has built a framework for a lively downtown that complements Islip’s unique combination and access to public transportation, employment opportunities, visitor amenities and cultural diversity,” Carpenter said. “Today’s DRI award will make sure our community continues to attract businesses, jobs and families.”

Among the projects under consideration, Carpenter said, is the renovation of the vacant former firehouse on Carleton Avenue, mixed-use retail and housing development and potentially a downtown trolley.

Assemb. Phil Ramos (D-Brentwood) said the project should “integrate housing into our business district to create a built-in market for our businesses during the winter. We have vacancies and need the downtown beautified.”

The state awards $10 million grants annually to 10 regions across the state, including one in Long Island. Cuomo has toured the state this summer, awarding the grants as he campaigns for re-election in November.

This is the first year that a Suffolk County community has won the grant, and the third time Central Islip has applied for the money. Westbury won the money in 2016 and Hicksville took home the grant in 2017.

“This is about investing in our community,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. “It’s about investing in jobs and economic opportunity.”

The Long Island Regional Economic Development Council, a panel appointed by Cuomo, judges applications for the grant based on criteria including communities’ pursuit of transit hub development, proximity to workforces and an ability to capitalize on private investment.

Central Islip, state officials said, will now develop a strategic investment plan to revitalize its downtown with up to $300,000 in planning funds from the $10 million grant. A planning committee, composed of elected officials, community leaders, state planners and other stakeholders will lead the effort with details about specific projects expected next year, officials said.

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