A ribbon campaign has been launched in Huntington aimed at uniting residents in an effort to strengthen community ties, increase safety and lower crime in Huntington Station.
Huntington Matters Inc., organizer of the campaign called "Standing united for a safe and healthy Huntington," hopes the ribbon symbolizes that residents -- no matter where they live in the town -- are responsible for a safe and healthy community.
"This is the tie that binds us together," said June Margolin, president of Huntington Matters Inc. and a Huntington Station resident since 1996, about the ribbon.
On Wednesday, the group launched the campaign and handed out about 80 of the 10-inch wide hot pink ribbons, the color chosen to evoke vibrancy and the diversity and the passion of the community.
"We wanted a color that was powerful, something that was visual, that's going to grab you as you are driving by," she said. "We wanted something that gave an indication or sensation of new hope, new beginnings."
Huntington Station has long suffered an image problem.
After the downtown along New York Avenue was demolished in the 1960s to make room for urban renewal, portions of the community began to fall into disrepair.
Later, violence and a proliferation of absentee landlords contributed to the area's decline. Calls to revitalize the area have resounded ever since, with various events over the decades catalyzing the community to demand help.
Those included the death of a 5-year-old girl in a 1999 fire at an illegal dwelling, an increased gang presence, the temporary closing of a local school and, in recent years, several slayings.
Huntington Matters was created last fall in response to the slayings in Huntington Station of Maggie Rosales, Daniel Carbajal, Luis Ramos-Rodriguez and Sarah Strobel over a one-year period starting in October 2013.
Margolin said the campaign's aim is to have residents hang the free ribbon on a visible spot on their homes to make a statement that they are standing with Huntington Station.
Ribbons are available by emailing a request to HuntingtonMattersNW@gmail.com. A community event is slated for next month in which ribbons will be handed out. This year, more than 150 ribbons have been distributed.
Huntington Toyota is sponsoring the ribbon campaign.
Lawrence Levy, executive dean at the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University, said real change occurs when people come together.
"They have to use that energy to look to the future and figure out what do we need to move ahead," Levy said. "In this case, there's a need for revitalization and cohesion and a need for the community to come together over the idea to make its streets safe and more vibrant."
Town Supervisor Frank Petrone said he supports the campaign.
"It's time for everyone to get positive," he said. "We have a BID [business improvement district] that's active, we have organizations that are active, everyone's at the point of the positive push for the station, the revitalization, ridding the area of crime, beefing up code enforcement. The ribbon program is a positive approach that everyone is going to work together to achieve the same goal."
Margolin said her group's 165 members span the town of about 200,000 residents.
"We are a group of residents from all backgrounds and professions who have gotten together to come up with new solutions to old problems," she said.