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Smart growth panel analyzes Avalon Bay failure

A panel, called "Transit Oriented Development, Public Safety and the Media in Huntington Station: What happened and what’s next?," drew a crowd this morning to the Melville Marriott. The discussion was part of a daylong summit on smart growth hosted by Vision Long Island.

Six panelists -- who represented many points of views and ranged from housing advocates to the Huntington school board, residents and the media -- civilly hashed out what they thought had derailed the Avalon Bay Huntington Station project. They also addressed what could have been done better and what’s next in bringing economic development to the neighborhood.

Newsday’s Joye Brown was the moderator.

The consensus on what brought down the project: misinformation, lies and misunderstanding of the proposal. These factors, they said, mixed with the frenzy of an election season and the speed and power of social media, the content of which is not always fact-checked.

The panelists agreed more -- or better -- outreach by the developer to those who live in Huntington Station, before the town board was set to vote on the project, could have saved it, or at least shown the amount of support it would have garnered. Neither Avalon Bay nor town board members were invited to be on the panel.

Looking forward, panelists agreed that economic development is needed for the area. For any project -- commercial or residential -- to get the green light it's key for precise, clear information to be communicated to the community immediately impacted as early as possible, the panelists said. And, as always, better communication among town leaders, school board members and the community, and complete transparency are important.

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