The Huntington Town Board Wednesday approved a Community Benefits Agreement for the Huntington Station redevelopment -- a key step in the revitalization project.
The board voted 5-0 to approve the agreement with Plainview-based Renaissance Downtowns. It governs how fees generated by redevelopment projects will go back into community initiatives such as youth programs, educational efforts and job growth opportunities.
Fees from the first projects are forecast to be $300,000 to $400,000.
"We're very excited that the CBA was adopted," Ryan Porter, the company's vice president of planning and development, said. "It was a great process."
The town, developer and community representatives have worked on the agreement since last January. Board members were to have voted on it in October but that was delayed after a crowd of angry residents criticized the board over its response to violence in Huntington Station. Town Supervisor Frank Petrone said then that he also wanted to put more emphasis on youth program partnerships. "And we got that. It was a priority," Petrone said. "We were looking for monetary benefits for some existing and new programs . . . for the Station."
Porter said he next needs state environmental reviews completed for some projects in areas that have sewers, including a complex on the southwest corner of New York Avenue and Railroad Street that will feature a 140-room hotel with a 100,000-square-foot office building, both four stories tall, and a parking structure; 49 artist lofts between Railroad and Church streets along New York Avenue; 34 studios and 34 one-bedroom market-rate apartments to be built above 16,000 square feet of retail space at 1000 New York Ave. and neighboring properties.
Xavier Palacios, an attorney and Huntington school board member who was part of a committee that helped shape the benefits agreement and who has long been critical of the process for not being inclusive, said loopholes in the document weaken it.
"I think they have failed the Huntington Station community, existing businesses; they failed to protect the community from gentrification," he said. "That has always been my issue: what are you going to do to protect the community from gentrification?"