Additional parking for downtown Huntington, an expansion of The Whaling Museum and Education Center in Cold Spring Harbor and power to the Huntington Lighthouse are just some enhancements residents can expect to see with nearly $4 million in funding awarded from two Suffolk County programs aimed at improving the vibrancy of local downtowns.
One of those programs, the JumpSMART Small Business Downtown Investment Program, offered $25 million to eligible nonprofits and small businesses. The money came from the $286 million the county received through the American Rescue Plan Act.
The county’s Jumpstart program was established in 2013 and it is funded through the county’s capital program.
Town Supervisor Ed Smyth said $1.25 million was awarded for town projects. Of that, $1 million will go toward razing a building to make way for a parking lot and the rest will go toward waterfront improvement projects along Huntington Harbor.
In 2019, town officials approved purchasing a parcel with a former bank building at the northwest corner of New York Avenue and Gerard Street for $3.05 million. The plan was to raze the building in 2020 to create a parking lot and connect it to an adjacent municipal parking lot, but demolition plans were stalled by the pandemic. Later estimates to demolish the building came in especially high, Smyth said, so they asked the county for help.
“More parking makes Huntington village more attractive, not only to residents, but to the county and Long Island at large as a destination," Smyth said.
Barry Lites is chairman of the board of directors for the proposed Huntington African American Museum, which was established in 2022.
Lites said the $500,000 awarded to the museum will go toward a nationwide search for an executive director and renderings for the museum.
“We are just getting started and to get this boost at the commencement of our journey is a great start,” Lites said.
In Greenlawn, downtown streetscape improvements will be paid for with $650,000 awarded to the hamlet.
Jenny Post, president of the Greenlawn Civic Association, said funds will be used for getting safety improvements for the town portion of Broadway, which runs through Greenlawn’s downtown.
"The focus will be on pedestrian safety, making the crosswalks more visible, especially to motorists," she said.
Nomi Dayan, executive director of The Whaling Museum and Education Center in Cold Spring Harbor, said the $300,000 awarded to the center will go toward construction design documents for the expansion of the museum.
She said an expanded space will allow a long held wish — to permanently exhibit a life-size sperm whale skeleton — to become a reality.
“We are a physically small museum, but we tell an enormous, complicated fascinating story and it’s always been a challenge telling that story in our small footprint,” Dayan said. “So this money is a game-changer.”
The Huntington Lighthouse Preservation Society received $100,000. President Pamela Setchell said the money will go toward starting the process to get power to the lighthouse, which is currently solar powered.
The municipalities, small businesses and nonprofits who receive money from the Suffolk County JumpSMART and jumpstart funding programs.
- $1.25 million to the Town of Huntington for downtown parking and waterfront improvements
- $650,000 for Greenlawn downtown streetscape improvements $250,000 to the 1653 Foundation for an artist’s alley in downtown Huntington
- $100,000 to the Heckscher Museum of Art
- $500,000 to the Huntington African American Museum
- $157,000 to the Huntington Arts Council
- $170,000 to the Huntington Cultural Affairs Institute
- $100,000 to the Huntington Lighthouse Preservation Society
- $500,000 to the YMCA of Long Island — Huntington
- $300,000 to the Whaling Museum and Education Center
Credit: Suffolk County