Residents in and around downtown Smithtown have formed their own civic association.
The association, to be called Smithtown United, will advocate for residents on issues including the possible creation of a sewer system and development.
Those are timely issues for Smithtown, where Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in January proposed $20 million for sewers in the downtown, and where at least two parcels, the former lumber yard on West Main Street and Smithtown Central School District property on New York Avenue, are ripe for development.
“The Town of Smithtown government works better when people stand up at board meetings with a cohesive message,” said Mark Mancini, an architect and former Smithtown Chamber of Commerce president who helped found the association.
About 60 residents, including representatives from the New York Avenue group who led the push against the district’s planned sale to a developer who wanted to build apartments, attended the inaugural meeting last Tuesday night at the Brush Barn.
The Chamber coordinated the meeting, which comes at a time when town civic associations are enjoying a renaissance. St. James residents banded together last month to push for Lake Avenue improvements and big-ticket items that could include a new library.
County and state officials said the Kings Park Civic Association and Chamber of Commerce were instrumental in attracting another $20 million proposed for sewers in that hamlet’s downtown after presenting professionally prepared revitalization plans to the town board.
“We saw, with Kings Park, what they were able to put together,” Mancini said. “They were able to come up with plans and present them to the town. Smithtown needs the same thing.”
Consensus may be hard to reach on some of the biggest issues, though, starting with sewers, which Mancini and others argued last week are needed to support business expansion and broaden the town’s tax base.
At least one resident who attended the meeting was skeptical. “What is their ulterior motive?” he asked. “To put in multifamily apartment houses.”