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Huntington Town park project back on track

Artist renderings for Coral Park are seen at

Artist renderings for Coral Park are seen at a meeting Huntington officials held with residents, including Sheila Harris. (May 2, 2012). Credit: John Roca

After several stops and starts, the creation of Coral Park in Huntington is back on track.

Plans were moving ahead for the park along Broadway Greenlawn Road until Jan. 30, when the county rejected the town's request to pay for, install and maintain a traffic light on the county road entrance to the town park.

The county plans to place a crosswalk with a "bulb out" -- a concrete curb that narrows the width of the street and forces drivers to slow down -- on each side of the road.

"I'm not happy with the county's decision on the traffic light," said town board member Susan Berland, who has pushed for the park's creation and took some responsibility for the delay because she wanted to fight for the light. "When it was clear they were not going to approve a traffic light, I said, 'Let's just get the park built.' "

She said because of the county decision regarding the traffic light, the design for the front of the park had to be redrawn to allow only one entry and exit to the park and not two as originally planned. Berland said amending the plans, as well as the town Planning Department dealing with superstorm Sandy issues and the renovation of Heckscher Park, further delayed construction.

"We anticipate within the next week getting construction plans to the county so the county can issue permits," Berland said.

Suffolk Legis. Steve Stern (D-Dix Hills) said at a recent meeting of the Porter-Trejo Action Network, that he would be the point person for the county for residents.

"From the county perspective I will make sure that we get the infrastructure and go through the permitting process so ultimately the community can enjoy the park," Stern said.

After a decade wait, the town board last May unanimously approved the park. The project was first launched in the late 1990s when the Town of Huntington Environmental Open Space and Park Fund Review Advisory Committee earmarked $300,000 for the park after a developer donated the land. But it stalled until fall 2011, when some residents began to lobby the town to get it built.

The 2.8-acre park will include an open playing field, basketball court, playground, parking lot, bicycle racks and a gazebo. The park will not be lighted.

The advisory committee voted last year to take additional money from various funds to pay for the park.

"We're hoping to begin construction by the middle of the summer," Berland said. "We're settling for the bulb out, but my intention is that once the park is built [we will] revisit the issue of a traffic light."

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