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Building named for former Smithtown Highway Superintendent Dowling

Main Street in Smithtown on Feb. 20, 2012.

Main Street in Smithtown on Feb. 20, 2012. Credit: Erin Geismar

The Smithtown Town Board last week unanimously approved the renaming of the Smithtown Highway Department building on Route 347 after former Highway Superintendent James E. Dowling.

Dowling served from 1960 to 1997, said current Highway Superintendent Glenn Jorgensen.

"He built this place -- the highway department," said Jorgensen, who began working as a laborer in 1969 during Dowling's tenure. "In 1960, it was a little nothing building, and over 37 years at the helm he made it the complex it is now."

Dowling, 90, of St. James, said, "It's very nice that they thought of me to do that."

"I spent a very great part of my life there . . . and doubled the size of the grounds there," said Dowling, a World War II Army Air Forces veteran.

Dowling said he also had a large task outside of the department grounds.

"I had to build all the town roads, which were farm roads just about in the 1950s," he said. "In the 1960s and 1970s, we rebuilt all the roads and made them modern highways with drainage and curbs. That was a real challenge, because no one was doing that out here."

Jorgensen praised Dowling as an innovator, saying he was among the first superintendents to use a procedure where workers made a road base out of the old road, and then paved. "It was a money saver, a time saver, and kind of even going green," Jorgensen said. "That's how we build roads today . . . though, now, we have much more innovative machinery."

The dedication ceremony will take place later this year at a yet-to-be-determined date, Jorgensen said. Dowling said he was happy to "be able to see [the ceremony] . . . I had a great team of people who worked for me."

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