Residents this week pressed government officials and the developer of the Wyandanch Rising revitalization on further details of the project’s next phase.
The more than three dozen residents at a meeting Wednesday at the Wyandanch Senior Nutrition Center were given an overview of future work being done by developer Albanese Organization Inc. of Garden City. The company has completed two apartment buildings with retail space and a nearby plaza with an ice skating rink. The work is part of the larger Wyandanch Rising initiative, a $500 million public-private revitalization effort that’s been moving forward since 2002.
Albanese chairman Russell Albanese told the crowd of plans for more apartments, commercial space and the creation of a health and wellness center near the existing apartment buildings that will house the county-owned Martin Luther King Jr. Health Center and a YMCA.
Some residents said they were caught off guard by all of the plans, others disappointed that some of the work will not begin until 2019. The residents pushed officials and Albanese on the hiring of locals for permanent jobs, environmental concerns and how the new LIRR station would be policed.
“I think this meeting could have happened a lot sooner,” said Jacqueline DeVille, chairwoman of the health center’s advisory board. “But as we go we’re just going to hold them all accountable.”
The meeting was the first communitywide gathering since June 2016.
DeVille pressed Suffolk County Legis. DuWayne Gregory and Albanese about going forward with moving the health center and not waiting for the YMCA to finish obtaining its funding. It was announced Wednesday that the YMCA has received $3.5 million in state aid. However, the organization is still more than $4 million short in its financing needs.
The town has been promising a move for the health center, which is run out of a former A&P supermarket, for nearly seven years. In February 2011, then-Town Supervisor Steve Bellone laid out plans to relocate the center to a new building on the west side of Straight Path.
“We were promised a free-standing building,” DeVille said, noting that the center has outgrown its space. “I don’t feel as though the health center has got to wait for a YMCA.”
Albanese said that because the center and YMCA will have a common entrance and some shared spaces, it would be “much more efficient to do it all at once.” He said preliminary design work has begun on the building.
Gregory assured residents that officials and Albanese will continue to engage the community on plans.
“There are people who are looking for failure” with the redevelopment, he said, addressing longtime critics. “We’re determined to make it a success because that is what you deserve.”