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Deer Park residents share ideas for possible downtown

Babylon Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer has suggested repairing

Babylon Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer has suggested repairing portions of Deer Park Avenue, a main corridor in the hamlet. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa Loarca

Establishing a historical center and mixed-use developments were some of the suggestions residents brought up last week during a Deer Park Community Association meeting about what they’d like to see if a downtown is added to the hamlet. 

Babylon Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer, who was a guest speaker at the March 11 meeting, said he wants ideas to come from the public. There are 27,745 people living in the hamlet, according to the Town of Babylon.

Because Deer Park is spread out, Schaffer suggested repairing portions of Deer Park Avenue, a main corridor in the hamlet, as well as Long Island Avenue and Commack Road. Though there are small businesses along sections of Deer Park Avenue and Long Island Avenue, there is no established downtown in the hamlet.

“But I feel more comfortable having all of you tell me, ‘Hey, this is how we would like you to play this all out,’ ” Schaffer said to a crowd of more than 50 people in a conference room at the Deer Park School District Administration building. “Because the only way you get buy-in and there’s legitimacy to it and it’s going to work is if everybody has had a say in it.”

The meeting was to get input from the community on what they would like to see created in a downtown. With those ideas, Schaffer said, he hopes to bring in Eric Alexander, director of Vision Long Island, a Northport-based smart growth planning group, as a consultant and put together a proposal to submit for a county grant by May.

“You could have a walkable hamlet,” Alexander said. “The residents would have to have a unified voice on that. You got to marry what the community wants, and that’s a process.”

Some of the ideas presented come after the Deer Park Chamber of Commerce released a survey in June 2019, which showed many people wanting to see a downtown along with fixing potholes and traffic. Some improvements to Deer Park Avenue, such as removing dying trees and installing trash receptacles, have already come as part of a pedestrian safety and beautification project by the Town of Babylon.  

Gina Lieneck, president of the community association and a resident in the hamlet, said she would like to see businesses with apartments on upper floors. The apartments would have to be affordable to keep the younger generation in the community, she said.

“It gives the community a nice village look for a downtown area,” Lieneck said. “It’s all up to the community, however, to see what’s better.”

Glen Annarumma said expanding parking along Deer Park Avenue, where small businesses are, would be ideal. He also wants to see a community center or a historical center. 

“We need to do something for the kids of this community,” Annarumma said. “I understand businesses are important, but we need to do something where the kids are going to flock to.”

What do you say?

The Deer Park Community Association is seeking input for areas that may be suited for a downtown revitalization.

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