Smithtown residents and officials hailed two revitalization proposals as cause for optimism in downtown Kings Park and Smithtown.
In Kings Park, a proposal from a Queens planning consultant but based on community input would bring more pedestrians and potential shoppers to the area by relocating the farmers market to a more central location, closing curb cuts and improving street crossings. The Smithtown proposal, from a local civic group, calls for apartments and town houses to be built off Main Street and near the Long Island Rail Road station. It also calls for the town to buy the Smithtown Central School District headquarters on New York Avenue and convert it to a municipal building and park.
Neither proposal came with a price tag and neither appears on the town’s five-year, $30 million capital spending plan, posted earlier this month on the town website. And, to be fully realized, both proposals rely on sewers, which officials say are needed to build additional restaurants, bars and apartments. State funding is in place for a Kings Park system, but $20 million promised for downtown Smithtown will likely not cover the entire cost.
The “lion’s share” of the work of revitalization and its cost will be borne by private interests, Supervisor Edward Wehrheim said. In coming months, town officials will work on new zoning rules to entice developers to the area, he said. Town officials will also look for grant funding from other levels of government.
“The residents that live in our town, with their varying backgrounds and experience, are coming together and saying that this is a possibility,” said Councilman Tom Lohmann. “This is a starting point.”
Kings Park Civic Association president Linda Henninger, who managed the farmers markets in Kings Park and St. James last summer, said “it was exciting to see that the Kings Park Farmers Market creates stronger economic spillovers and benefits our local businesses.”
Councilman Tom McCarthy said that the town should move ahead with revitalization in both hamlets, even if full funding for sewers in downtown Smithtown isn’t guaranteed. “We’ve got to do what we can do now,” he said.
In that hamlet, the town can encourage development at promising locations such as the school district headquarters or town-owned land near the LIRR station with on-site plants, he said.
Later, when — or if — a sewer system is built, officials can require hookup, he said.