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Town officials unveil plans for James D. Conte civic center

Plans are unveiled during a dedication ceremony celebrating

Plans are unveiled during a dedication ceremony celebrating the naming of the new Conte Community Center at the old New York State Armory in Huntington Station, on Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017. Credit: Johnny Milano

The Thanksgiving weekend was a fitting time to unveil the concept design plans for the James D. Conte Community Center in Huntington Station, a former armory site named for the assemblyman who served the hamlet for 24 years, Huntington Town Supervisor Frank P. Petrone said.

An overflow crowd gathered at the Armory at 100 E. Fifth Ave. Saturday morning to see the exterior and the proposed floor plan for the interior of the building designed by Bohemia-based Savik & Murray, an architectural and engineering firm.

“It’s an appropriate time to give thanks to a public servant who delivered for all of us in many different ways,” Petrone said.

Conte was elected to the Assembly in 1988 to represent Huntington Station, rising to the post of minority leader pro tem, the Republicans’ second-ranking post. He died in 2012 of T-cell lymphoma. While in office he made a top priority of getting the Armory transferred to the town to be used as a community center.

Joining Petrone were Conte’s wife Debra, children Sarah, Samantha and Jeffrey, State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport) state Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset), Town Supervisor-elect Assemb. Chad Lupinacci (R-Huntington) and town board members Mark Cuthbertson and Gene Cook, among many other elected officials and community leaders.

The design concept for the exterior includes features such as an outdoor theater and bench seating. Features for the interior include an exercise area with exercise machines, rock wall climbing, and full-size basketball court; rooms for the arts and crafts; a recording studio; 100-seat multipurpose meeting room, meeting room for the Greenlawn American Legion, and a kitchen and cafe.

“This is exactly what my father would have wanted for this community,” Sarah Conte said. “We are beyond excited to have these plans unveiled and we are looking forward to having the building built out and to start seeing the community members enjoy the space.”

The state conveyed the armory to the town in May 2013 and since that time the building has had extensive environmental remediation and renovation work done to remove asbestos, lead and mold.

The town’s 2018 capital budget, approved Nov. 20, allots $3.75 million for the first phase of construction of the building. Officials are not sure when construction will begin. Town officials have budgeted $10 million for the project, which includes a $1.5 million state grant. Town officials said they anticipate the project will be completed at the end of 2019.

Lupinacci, who was elected to Conte’s Assembly seat after Conte’s death, said he was his mentor and a friend to the entire community.

“It’s great to see that all the hard work he did for us at the state level for a quarter century will be long-lasting right here in the heart of Huntington Station,” Lupinacci said.

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