The Town of Huntington Wednesday dedicated and officially opened the new pedestrian plaza at New York Avenue and Olive Street, the completion of which, officials say, is a major step in revitalizing Huntington Station.
"This plaza and the sculpture that is here signals a commitment . . . to a revitalization process that is ongoing," said town board member Mark Cuthbertson.
Cuthbertson was one of several speakers at the event, including Supervisor Frank Petrone, who said the dedication was the "culmination of years of planning and community input."
Petrone said the town's Economic Development Corp. began soliciting ideas for the area's rejuvenation about eight years ago and that many residents said the area near where the plaza stands was blighted and needed to be addressed.
The town transformed a parking area into an 18,000-square-foot plaza lined with concrete pavers and new landscaping. Central to the plaza is the four-piece limestone sculpture, called "Generations," which features a guitar player, grandmother and child, a guitar case and drum. The dolomitic limestone pieces allow visitors to sit on them. Petrone said the plaza cost about $800,000 to build.
"This is a really personal commission," said Denver-based artist Madeline Wiener, who created the sculptures. The Bronx native has family in Huntington.
"This is about my soul, my family's soul and the soul of Huntington Station," Wiener said at the dedication.
Gwen Belton, who has lived in Huntington Station more than 45 years, brought her 4-year-old granddaughter, Corinne, to see the plaza.
"It looks like it's [about] family and diversity and caring about everyone," Belton said.
Representatives from Renaissance Downtowns, the Plainview-based master developer selected by the town to revamp the area, were also at the dedication.
Renaissance unveiled the findings of a nearly yearlong study, the Huntington Station Development Strategy, at the end of April, which included the residents' most popular ideas for the area.
"It is a huge spark for our revitalization effort," Ryan Porter, vice president for planning and development, said.
Dolores Thompson, executive director of the Huntington Station Enrichment Center and president emeritus of the Huntington branch of the NAACP, also said the plaza was "something positive coming into Huntington Station."
"Hopefully, this is the beginning," Thompson said.