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Farmingdale people: Mayor Ralph Ekstrand

Farmingdale Mayor Ralph Ekstrand, 57, sits on a

Farmingdale Mayor Ralph Ekstrand, 57, sits on a memorial bench on the Village Green next to Village Hall. (May 8, 2012) Credit: Brittany Wait

Editor's note: All week long, Brittany Wait is profiling people around Farmingdale, from community leaders to residents she bumps into around town.

She walked Main Street while chatting with new Mayor Ralph Ekstrand, 57, on Tuesday.

Community Associations: Past president and board member of the Farmingdale Breakfast Rotary Club and the Farmingdale Chamber of Commerce; current chairman of the finance committee for the Farmingdale United Methodist Church.

How long have you lived here?

I’ve lived here in Farmingdale since 1980, but, believe it or not, I’m not considered a 'Daler. I grew up in Staten Island and Brooklyn. The nickname of all these sports teams are Dalers. You have two choices with Farmingdale. When you’re here 50 years, you can be a Daler, or if you’re born here.

What initially brought you to Farmingdale?

My business. My partner and I took over Moby Drugs in 1980 and we loved Farmingdale so much that we moved here. It’s really a great place to raise a family. My three kids all went through the Farmingdale school system.

When you first moved here, what was most notable about the community?

I always called it the “Leave it to Beaver” community. When we moved in, our neighbors came over to talk to us. One of them even gave us a welcoming cake.

What else does the community offer residents?

Farmingdale doesn’t have a waterfront. However, we have a train station that’s designated as a historic landmark. Believe it or not, when the train first came out here from Brooklyn and Queens, Farmingdale was the last stop for decades. Farmingdale became a hub at the turn of the last century, the late 1800s. There were six hotels right around the train station and they would cater to the people who would stay overnight. We decided the best thing to do to develop the area is to look at our train station. We have three trains that go directly to Penn Station nonstop in the morning for commuters. It starts at Ronkonkoma and picks people up at Farmingdale and in 45-50 minutes, you’re directly in Manhattan. That’s a very salable commodity. We’re going to use our train station as our mainstay for the development in the area.

What challenges do you think the community faces?

We need to solve the parking problems. One thing you’ll learn about Long Island is the biggest, No.1 concern of villages and towns is parking. Long Island tends to be the worst with the high cost of living. Also, we’re hoping that merchants can hang on until this development comes in. I firmly believe that by bringing in new development, new people and new money, will turn around our little village.

How would you define the character of this community?

It’s very diverse. If you look at the restaurants here, we have Croxley Ales, which is an English pub, then right across the street you have the Wild Wild West Saloon, which obviously is American Western cuisine. You go up the block a little bit, you have the Republic Pub and you go on this side of the street you have the Library Café. You also have a Dominican restaurant. We have all different types of restaurants that cater to all sorts of people. Did I mention that we show family-oriented movies on a 30-foot screen over the summer at the Village Green?


 

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