Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone joined Smithtown officials Thursday to celebrate the opening of Bellemeade Municipal Parking Lot off Main Street, an event they touted as the first step toward downtown revitalization.
The lot, constructed for $490,000, consists of 139 painted asphalt parking spots with drainage to eliminate what were once flood conditions. It plays a role in a grander project creating jobs, growth, and the “heart and soul of a place where people gather,” Bellone said. “We deal in a world where we celebrate parking lots.”
Smithtown officials say they expect to close Monday on the purchase of two new parking lots in Kings Park and are looking into buying a lot near the Irish Viking bar in the St. James business district, all moves they hope will free up on-street parking and encourage more shoppers to visit the downtowns.
The county is expected to help with some of the funding for those purchases and with the $20 million construction of sewers in Kings Park and planning for a system in downtown Smithtown, although the Kings Park project is stalled in the State Legislature.
Bellone and Smithtown Supervisor Edward Wehrheim made their remarks in the parking lot, in front of sketches of three recent or scheduled residential projects — the Lofts at Main and Maple, TGD Commack and Country Pointe Woods — that will add more than 200 units to the town’s housing stock. The Lofts at Maple and Main, in downtown Smithtown, will add nearly 10,000 square feet of retail space to what has been an empty lot across from town hall for more than a decade.
The Smithtown business representatives who attended the event gave the new parking lot high marks.
“It’s a step in the right direction, said Jeff Troiano, a Smithtown Allstate insurance agent whose office is on Main Street.
The event also highlighted the relationship between Bellone, a Democrat, and Wehrheim, a Republican. Bellone last week announced he was appointing Wehrheim to the Long Island Regional Planning Council.
The town couldn’t “have a better partner than County Executive Steve Bellone,” Wehrheim said Thursday. Bellone, shortly after, spoke of the importance of “vision and leadership to make things happen” and called Wehrheim “someone who knows how to get things done.”