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Protesters rally for Abrams school clean up

Jennifer and Willie Totura, center, listen to speakers

Jennifer and Willie Totura, center, listen to speakers in front of Huntington Town Hall during an anti-violence rally after the school board decided to close the Jack Abrams school due of neighborhood violence. (July 21, 2010) Photo Credit: Newsday/Sally Morrow

Residents from across Huntington gathered in front of Town Hall Wednesday to speak as one voice with a single message: Clean up Huntington Station.

Just two days after the Huntington School Board voted to close the Jack Abrams School to students because of continued violence in that community, a rally drew about 200 residents.

The group is demanding better enforcement of town code and loitering laws and more of a police presence.

Many protesters said the school board's decision Monday to scrap plans for a new sixth-grade center in the Abrams building in the fall has not deterred them. They said they must continue to pressure town and county officials to improve conditions in Huntington Station. "We want something more than lip service," Brian Hansen of Huntington said before the rally.

A thunderstorm broke up the gathering but first there were speeches by residents, state Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset), town board member Susan Berland and Suffolk County Legis. Jon Cooper (D-Lloyd Harbor).

Resident Kevin Thorbourne told the crowd, "It's up to us to make sure Huntington Station is cleaned up."

Fallout from Monday's decision continues. Roger Tilles, Long Island's representative on the state Board of Regents, cautioned, "If districts closed any school that had an incident in it, we'd be closing schools all over Long Island."

Earlier in the day, town and county officials met in Hauppauge to discuss initiatives to improve Huntington Station such as creating a town hotline and enhancing cooperation between the town code enforcement division and county social services.

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