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Long Island Music Hall of Fame pulls out of Wyandanch Rising, town says

In 2014, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone unveiled a sign for the Wyandanch LIRR station renaming it the Long Island Music Hall of Fame stop.

A rendering of Wyandanch Rising, where the Long

A rendering of Wyandanch Rising, where the Long Island Music Hall of Fame was to be built. Photo Credit: Torti Gallas

A museum that was intended to be a key draw to bringing people to Wyandanch’s downtown is no longer a part of the hamlet’s redevelopment plans.

The Long Island Music Hall of Fame has dropped plans to open its first museum in Wyandanch, Babylon Town officials said. The hall had announced in December 2014 that it was building a “world-class, state-of-the-art museum” in the center of Wyandanch’s downtown revitalization effort. Dubbed Wyandanch Rising, the redevelopment is a $500 million public-private revitalization effort that's been in progress since 2002.

At the time of the announcement, the hall touted the museum as a “cornerstone of the development” in Wyandanch that would feature “interactive exhibits, performance areas for professionals and students, and musical and historical memorabilia.”

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone spearheaded the Wyandanch redevelopment while he was town supervisor and pushed to bring in the museum. At the 2014 announcement, Bellone unveiled a new sign for the Wyandanch Long Island Rail Road station renaming it the Long Island Music Hall of Fame stop. Bellone had said the museum would become a “destination for Suffolk County residents and visitors throughout the metropolitan region."

“It was always a part of Steve Bellone’s vision,” said Tony Martinez, town deputy supervisor. “But sometimes vision meets reality.”

Neither Bellone, nor board chairman for the music hall Ernie Canadeo   returned requests for information about why the museum dropped its plans.

Based now in Melville, the LIMHOF was founded in 2004. Though it inducts members biannually, it does not have a museum space. Last year, hall of fame officials announced plans to launch a tour bus to serve as a Mobile Education Museum housing exhibits, archives and educational programs.

In Wyandanch, the museum was to have used 10,000 square feet of a planned 100,000-square-foot commercial building that will house a YMCA and the HRHCare Martin Luther King Jr. Health Center. In 2016, Babylong Town received $1.2 million from Suffolk County for the interior of the museum. Martinez said the town will use that money to create a cultural event space in the building that will be run by the YMCA.

“The Y runs the Boulton Center in Bay Shore, so they have the capacity to provide that cultural component that the music hall of fame was going to provide,” Martinez said.

Anne Brigis, president and CEO of YMCA of Long Island said in an email that the organization would offer “creative, cultural and performing arts programs with linkage” to the Boulton Center, but had no specifics because she said programming is still being developed.

Suffolk Legis. Robert Trotta (R-Fort Salonga), who was the lone dissenting vote in giving the money for the museum, said he was not surprised to learn about the pullout, saying such museums are not viable.

“This was just Bellone with his big fantasies that this is going to make things better,” he said.

Trotta said he is “troubled” that the town would still use the funding, which was specifically passed for the museum. “I would think we’d have to vote on it again,” he said.

Martinez said the town does not view the pullout as a setback and that other aspects of the redevelopment will work to draw in visitors. 

“I think we’re doing a pretty good job of attracting people from outside the area with the ice skating rink and with the programming we have there,” he said.

Next steps in Wyandanch Rising

A 124-unit, five-story affordable housing apartment building

Location: north of the two existing apartment buildings

Expected completion: By the end of 2019

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A community resource center in a single-story building

Location: Next to the new apartment building

Expected completion: By the end of 2019  

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A 100-unit, five-story building with senior apartments

Location: Around the train station parking garage.

Construction due to start: Late 2019/early 2020

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A four-story building to house a YMCA and the HRHCare Martin Luther King Jr. Health Center

Location: East of the existing apartment buildings

Construction due to start: Late 2019/early 2020

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An undetermined amount of townhomes

Location: South of the train tracks

Construction due to start: 2020

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