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Smithtown civic association shares vision for downtown

Smithtown United Civic Association president Timothy Smalls

Smithtown United Civic Association president Timothy Smalls Credit: Jessica Rotkiewicz

A Smithtown civic association wants to remake the west end of downtown with a new municipal building, a sports and senior center and dozens of apartments and town houses near Main Street and the Long Island Rail Road station.

“This is not a six-month endeavor. It would take years. But we’ve got to start,” said Timothy Small, a retired National Grid vice president who is president of the Smithtown United civic association. Small and other association members, including Smithtown architect Mark Mancini, began work on the plan this year.

It calls for construction of about 90 town houses and apartments near Main Street and the LIRR station, consolidation of town offices and preservation of ballfields. The plan, which still needs a developer, would require the purchase of a former lumber yard on West Main street as well as a 13-acre Smithtown school district property, where an earlier high-density proposal for apartments had failed last year.

Association officials said they would present the proposal to the town board later this month. Town planner David Flynn said the proposal appeared workable. “If the board wants to go in the direction of stimulating a downtown and protecting a neighborhood, this will do it,” he said.

Smithtown United members conceived the plan to reverse what Small said was the decline of the Smithtown hamlet’s downtown. The business district has more than a dozen vacancies and little of the sidewalk energy some other Long Island towns and villages have captured in recent years.

But major elements of the Smithtown United plan remain unsettled. Chief among them is construction of a sewer system. Without it, most town officials and business owners say, expanded businesses and multi-residence buildings on the scale Smithtown United envisions are impossible. But cost estimates for the system top $55 million. Though Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo this year pledged $20 million each toward sewers in Kings Park and Smithtown, it’s not clear how the town or its residents could supply the remainder.

And plan backers also would need the cooperation of the school district and East Hampton developer Salvatore DiCarlo, who owns the former lumber yard. DiCarlo has his own pending site plan for retail and apartments on his land.

A spokesman for the school district said the Board of Education and the district superintendent had seen the proposal, but had made no decision about disposal of the New York Avenue property. An attorney for DiCarlo said he was not familiar with the proposal.

Town leadership is another uncertain element, with the town supervisor’s seat and two town council seats at play in the November election.

Councilman Ed Wehrheim, one of three candidates for supervisor, said he was impressed by the plan but could not commit until he saw cost estimates for purchase of the district property and consolidation of town offices there.

Robert Cartelli, who owns a plumbing business in Smithtown and is president of the Greater Smithtown Chamber of Commerce, said the plan likely would be revised before it was finalized. But it held promise, he said: “My downtown Main Street could undergo an improvement and become one of the absolute crown jewels of the island.”

Details of the Smithtown United civic association’s plan

  • Two-story buildings along portion of West Main Street, with ground-floor retail and second-floor apartments. Town houses and mixed-use buildings in vacant former lumber yard. Three-story apartment buildings near LIRR station.
  • Traffic circle could replace stoplight at corner of New York Avenue and Main Street.
  • Purchase the 13-acre school district property, but keep ballfields and consolidate town offices in school administration building.
  • Sell satellite town offices.

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