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Smithtown board OKs appraisal for vacant lot

Smithtown Town Hall

Smithtown Town Hall Credit: Erin Geismar

Smithtown Town Board members have authorized an appraisal for vacant Kings Park land on which businesses and some residents want to build a municipal parking lot.

The proposed lot would create up to 40 parking spaces on Pulaski Road on land behind Park Bake Shop, according to the town traffic department, said Councilman Robert Creighton.

"I think it's extremely important that 750 people have taken time to sign a petition," Creighton said after Tuesday's board meeting. "We have to respond to it."

Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio initially expressed support but changed his position in January when Town Attorney Matthew Jakubowski said property owners want $279,000 for the land.

Vecchio, who was absent from Tuesday's meeting, has said residential taxes should not be used to "benefit private owners."

"I don't think that the people living in St. James or Hauppauge or Smithtown want to be paying for that," he said, adding that the business owners in the area should create a Business Improvement District "to tax themselves [for] the improvements."

But Creighton said all residents would benefit from the lot. "This is a township. We are all one and we're not supposed to separate individual communities," he said.

Gabe Shtanko, who co-owns Park Bake Shop with his wife, Lucy, said he started collecting signatures last October. "If you want businesses to grow, we need parking," he said.

Shtanko isn't keen on taking Vecchio up on the suggestion to start a Business Improvement District.

"If the town cannot do it . . . what makes you think 20 business owners will agree to it?" he said.

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