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Huntington Station

Huntington Manor firefighters evacuated 15 residents from an early morning apartment blaze Sept. 20.

The fire department responded to initial reports of a structure fire on New York Avenue between East 10th and East 11th streets in Huntington Station at 6:51 a.m., according to fire district spokesman Steve Silverman.

Firefighters found a fire in an apartment building located behind a commercial building and began an aggressive search and rescue. Several neighboring fire departments including Commack, Dix Hills, Greenlawn, Halesite, Huntington, Melville also responded bringing a total of 50 firefighters and 10 trucks to the scene.

Huntington Manor assistant chiefs Jon Hoffman, Chuck Brady and Jim Glidden led crews in evacuating residents and bringing the fire under control within an hour. The fire caused extensive damage to the commercial building and apartments on the first and second floor, according to Silverman.

New York Avenue was closed off in both directions by Suffolk County police during the fire, causing snarls to rush-hour traffic.

The Suffolk County police Arson Squad and Huntington Town fire marshal are investigating the cause of the fire.

Andrea Echevarria mugshot. Photo from SCPD

Suffolk County police have arrested a Huntington Station woman for stealing $15,000.

Andrea Echevarria stole the personal identifying information of three people from customer records kept by her former employer, Deer Park PTDC, a physical therapy office on Deer Park Avenue. She used the information to open a line of credit, then used the line of credit for cosmetic surgery totaling $15,000, according to police.

After a nine-month investigation by 2nd Squad detectives and the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office, Echevarria, 33, was arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree identity theft and one count of second-degree identity theft. Echevarria was held overnight at the 4th Precinct and was scheduled to be arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip Sept. 19.

File photo by Victoria Espinoza

A bicyclist was critically injured while riding in the center of the southbound lane of Route 110 in Huntington Station at about 8 p.m. Sept. 6, according to the Suffolk County Police Department. Suffolk County Police 2nd Squad detectives are investigating the incident.

Naeem Iqbal was driving a 2007 Honda Accord west on Broadway and crossing Route 110 when he struck Miguel Vilorio Ponce, 31, of Huntington Station, who was riding a bicycle in the center of Route 110 at about 8 p.m.

Ponce was transported via Huntington Community First Aid Squad in critical condition to Huntington Hospital. Iqbal, 42, of Huntington, was not injured.

The vehicle was impounded for a safety check and the investigation is continuing.  Anyone with information regarding this crash is asked to call the 2nd Squad at 631-854-8252.

This artistic rendering depicts what Huntington Station may look like once revitalized. Photo from Renaissance Downtowns

By Sara-Megan Walsh

Efforts to revitalize the southern portion of Huntington Station received a much-needed push forward last week.

Huntington Town Board members voted to approve spending $1.25 million in bond funds received from the Suffolk County Legislature to conduct an extensive sewer study as part of the Huntington Station
revitalization efforts.

The lack of sewers in Huntington Station is one of the areas that is desperately in need of improvement to make revitalization possible, as the land north of the Long Island Rail Road tracks in Huntington Station is served by the sewer district, but the south side is not, which has limited development and economic opportunities.

“It is the hurdle that prevents development from occurring,” said Ryan Porter, the director of planning and development with Renaissance Downtowns. “It prevents this project from being implemented on the south side.”

Renaissance Downtowns is a nationally-renowned development group chosen by the town to be a master developer of Huntington Station’s revitalization in 2012. Porter said due to the lack of sewer access in the south, the town has been forced to pursue a “dual track” when approaching revitalization efforts. Construction of a mix-used  building at the intersection of Northridge Street and New York Avenue was started this past January while there remain no specific plans yet in place for the south side of town, according to Porter.

The sewer study, which will be conducted by Suffolk County under an inter-municipal agreement, will analyze the existing sewer infrastructure, feasibility and design conditions within Huntington
Station to determine the most efficient way to connect the southern part of the town to existing sewer districts.

The southwest sewer district, which currently serves areas in the Town of Babylon and Town of Islip, currently extends only as north on Route 110 as the Walt Whitman Mall.

Porter said if southern portions of Huntington Station could be hooked into either the southwest sewer district or another system, it would greatly increase the future development potential.

“If an existing building is under performing, [the owner] can only tear down what they have and rebuild the same thing,” Porter said. “There’s very little motivation for people to improve their buildings. If
sewers were available, they could increase the building’s uses which is a financial
justification to rebuild your property.”

Suffolk County has already moved to issue the request for bids from engineering firms interested in undertaking the study.

Huntington Station residents interested in sharing their thoughts and ideas about what they would like to improved or built can visit www.sourcethestation.com. The website contains information on sharing ideas find out about upcoming community meetings.

By Sara-Megan Walsh

The decision by lawmakers in Charlottesville, Virginia, to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee, a general in the Confederate Army, from a city park sparked protests featuring unabashed Nazi salutes, white-supremacist rhetoric and violence.

Three people have been killed in the Charlottesville protests. On Aug. 12, an Ohio man allegedly drove a car into a crowd of counterprotesters opposing the hateful rhetoric of those aligned with the neo-Nazi sympathizers, killing 32-year-old Charlottesville resident Heather Heyer and injuring many others, according to Virginia police. Two Virginia state troopers — Lt. H. Jay Cullen and trooper-pilot Berke M.M. Bates — also died in a helicopter accident on the way to the scene of the accident, according to a state police spokesperson.

A Huntington vigil attendee holds a sign standing against the events in Charlottesville, Virginia. Photo from Julia Fenster

The impact of these protests have rippled out across the nation into local communities. Demonstrations were held in Huntington and Huntington Station by residents on Aug. 13 in response to the Charlottesville events.

More than 100 residents attended a solidarity vigil Sunday evening on the corner of Park Avenue and Main Street, organized by Action Together Long Island, a grassroots social action group formed in backlash to President Donald Trump (R) taking office. Action Together Long Island has nearly 3,500 members, according to founder and chief organizer Julia Fenster.

“What we are witnessing in Charlottesville is not representative of our nation, and it’s not representative of our community,” Fenster said. “We are going to draw a line in the sand and will not let that happen here.”

Rev. Larry Jennings, president of the NAACP Huntington Branch at Bethel AME Church in Huntington Station, opened the vigil with a moment of silence for those affected by the violence. This was followed by a live performance of “Amazing Grace.”

Eve Krief, a Centerport resident, said she attended because the events of Charlottesville touched her personally. Krief recalled growing up hearing stories of how her Jewish mother as a 5-year-old was forced to go into hiding during World War II. Both of Krief’s grandparents and her aunts were killed by Nazis.

“Growing up as a Jewish girl, I was taught never to forget how the Europeans were silent as Jews were targeted and taken away,” she said. “All day long the silence was deafening. The words — ‘the silence was deafening’ was never more powerful and meaningful to me than yesterday.”

Krief called for elected officials, both Democrats and Republicans, to come out more strongly against the violent protests, racism and white-supremacist attitude of Charlottesville protesters.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Julia Fenster, chief organizer of ATLI, at the vigil. Photo from Julia Fenster

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) attended the Huntington vigil.

“The rally in Charlottesville does not represent our American values and must be denounced outright,” he posted in a statement on Twitter. “There is no middle ground here — the ugliness of hate and intolerance have no place in our society. Period. On behalf of all Suffolk County residents, my thoughts and prayers are with the victim, those injured and their families during this difficult period of time.”

A second rally against the violence in Charlottesville was held at the corner of Route 110 and Jericho Turnpike in Huntington Station on Sunday evening. The event was a result of collaboration between several groups, including Action Together Long Island and LI Activists.

As calls for unity against hate rang through Huntington, racist graffiti was discovered painted on a fence in Huntington Station on the corner of Depot Road near Bogart Street, according to Suffolk County police. Suffolk County police did not provide any further details on what was painted on the fence.

State Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci (R-Huntington Station) has called for law enforcement to increase the number of patrols in the area for the safety and security of residents.

“As someone who was born and raised in Huntington Station, I want to reassure the community that such acts of hatred will not be tolerated here, as they are not tolerated anywhere in New York,” Lupinacci said. “Hate speech directed toward any group of people needs to be publicly denounced now more than ever.”

Suffolk County’s Hate Crimes Unit detectives are investigating the matter, according to SCPD Assistant Commissioner Justin Meyers.

File photo

By Victoria Espinoza

Suffolk County Police arrested a man for allegedly driving while intoxicated and endangering the welfare of a child after he stole a vehicle. He also fled police and was involved in a motor vehicle crash in Melville early morning Aug. 5

A 2nd Precinct officer observed a man in a 2001 Ford driving recklessly south on New York Avenue at East 15th Street in Huntington Station at 3:12 a.m. The vehicle had been reported stolen from Bay Shore at about 2:30 a.m. An officer attempted to pull over the vehicle and the driver, Justice Bennett, fled. Bennett lost control and the vehicle overturned and crashed at Old Country Road, west of Ponderosa Drive, at 3:16 a.m., police said.

Bennett, 19, of Bay Shore, was transported by the Melville Fire Department to Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow for treatment of serious injuries. A 13-year-old passenger and two 14-year-old passengers in the vehicle were all transported by the Melville Fire Department to Nassau University Medical Center for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.

Second Squad detectives charged Bennett with criminal possession of stolen property, three counts of aggravated driving while intoxicated (Leandra’s Law), three counts of endangering the welfare of a child and unlawful fleeing of police. He is scheduled for arraignment at a later date.

The vehicle was impounded for a safety check and the investigation is continuing. No attorney information for Bennett was immediately available.

File photo

Suffolk County Police 2nd Squad detectives are investigating a motor vehicle crash that killed a pedestrian in Huntington Station July 10.

A 20-year-old woman from Huntington was driving a 2001 Buick eastbound on Jericho Turnpike, just west of Hunters Lane, when her vehicle struck a man who was crossing northbound at approximately 2:15 p.m. The victim, Vitaliy Yaremchuk, 34, of Philadelphia, was transported to Huntington Hospital where he was pronounced dead. The driver of the car was not injured and remained at the scene.

The vehicle was impounded for a safety check and the investigation in ongoing. Detectives are asking anyone with information on this crash to call the Second Squad at 631854-8252.

The proposed plan for the assisted living facility in Huntington Station. Photo from Sunrise Development Inc.

By Victoria Espinoza

The sun seems set to rise on a new assisted living facility in Huntington Station.

Last week the Huntington town board unanimously approved a zone change for a 5.7 acre property on Jericho Turnpike and West Hills Road owned by Sunrise Development, Inc.

The land, located at 300 West Hills Road, is currently in a residential zone, and will be changed to a residential health services district to allow for the developer to create a two-story, 90-unit structure with 136 beds. After meetings with the town planning board, the developer has agreed to changes including staff shift changes timed to avoid peak traffic with the nearby Walt Whitman High School, “significant” landscape buffers between the facility and residences, and more.

At the May town board meeting, at least 10 residents that will neighbor the facility came to speak in support of the plan, though other residents came to oppose it.

According to the applicant, they held three community meetings as well as individual meetings with residents to hear their concerns and ideas to help make the facility the best it could be for the entire neighborhood.

Priscilla Jahir, a 34-year South Huntington resident was one of those speaking in opposition.

“I have no personal vendetta against seniors as I am one,” she said at the meeting. “I oppose the increase in traffic on West Hills Road, both during the 14-month-plus construction time and afterword as any increase in traffic will be a hardship to anyone traveling along that route. I feel that this facility is better suited for a larger access road.”

Diane Tanko presented a petition asking for a reduction in the size of the plan before granting them a zoning change.

Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D) said the main traffic contributors are expected to be the employees, not the residents who will live at the facility.

“If you reduce units you’re not really reducing traffic generation,” Cuthbertson said. “The people living there are generally not driving.”

Tanko responded that visitors also increase traffic, but Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D) said “sadly,” there were not many visitors at the other locations during the several times of the day she went to track the traffic and fullness of the parking lots.

Kevin McKenna, a South Huntington resident said he was in favor of the plan.

“I have two kids that attend Walt Whitman High School and I pass this location at least twice a day,” he said at the meeting. “I attended an informational meeting for the project set up by Sunrise and I walked away very impressed with the plan and the measures they’re taking with bringing the project to the neighborhood.”

He said he appreciated specifically how Sunrise intends to exceed setback measures for houses and fund landscape dividers at houses near the property.

Thomas Newman, a third-generation Peach Tree Lane resident said he’s seen the area change throughout the years and supports this change.

“After 25 years of being in the business of architecture and seeing their [Sunrise] designs, I think it would be an asset to our community,” he said. “I’d be happy to have my kids live fourth-generation on that street with this.”

Arthur Gibson, president of Plumbers Local Union 200, spoke in support of the plan.

“They’ve built I believe 15 similar units on Long Island, and they’ve consistently used a contractor…meaning local jobs for local people,” Gibson said at the meeting. “There’s so many times, I could tell you horror story after horror story where our contractors don’t get paid. Sunrise Senior Living, they pay their bills, and that’s very important for a construction man or woman on Long Island.”

The company said they are “negotiating in good faith” with the union currently for the job.

A Huntington resident signs the steel beam. Photo by Kevin Redding.

By Kevin Redding

When it comes to revitalization, Huntington Station is building a future as solid as steel.

Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) could barely contain his excitement June 8 as he, along with town board members and developers, kicked off Huntington Station’s long-planned revitalization phase with the signing of a steel beam to be installed over the entrance of a new, mixed-use building currently under construction at the intersection of Northridge Street and New York Avenue, a site on which the town has been trying to develop a property for decades.

“Finally, this is happening,” Petrone said to cheers and applause from at least 50 residents and local leaders standing in front of the construction site. “All of you who are here have been inspirational in his whole process and we know it’s taken a long time, but it’s happened…and thank goodness it’s happened.”

The mixed-use building, under construction since January and expected to be completed in October, will be made up of 6500 square feet of retail space on the first floor, with May’s Gourmet Delicatessen signed up as the first and only commercial tenant so far, and a total of 16 one-bedroom apartments, eight on the second floor and eight on the third, for a total cost of $5.5 million. According to the town, it’s projected to “generate $55,007 in tax revenue the first year, rising to $132,016 (at present rates) in 15 years.”

Huntington officials and community members smile. Photo by Kevin Redding.

This will serve as the first concrete project in Huntington Station’s next phase of youth-friendly revitalization and was developed in partnership with Renaissance Downtowns, a nationally-renowned development group chosen by the town to be a master developer in 2011. Blue & Gold Holdings, a Huntington-based contracting business, is in charge of construction.

“We’re going to attract millennials to this facility, and that speaks highly because the station is a hub, the station is a nucleus of people that commute, especially, and that’s who we are looking to attract,” Petrone said. “There was considerable money put into this, and commitment, because that’s the commitment necessary to start the engine of economic development. The collective work with the communities, with Renaissance Downtowns and with the town has paid off.”

Town Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D) and Councilwoman Susan Berland (D), both integral players in the town’s revitalization efforts, were equally excited about the progress being made on the site.

“Today is a great day for Huntington Station,” Cuthbertson said. “Anytime we can see brick, mortar and steel [in Huntington Station] with housing going up is a good sign. We have beautiful mixed-use buildings like this going up in Huntington Village that really, really add to the downtown area…but when we can have a building like this, when the economics are right, when government and the private sector come together and are able to do this in Huntington Station, we’re certainly on the right track.”

Berland assured the crowd that although it’s been long in the making, the project will be worth the wait.

“The businesses that are going to happen here and the people who are going to be able to move in to the heart of the station and live here and prosper here and shop here —it’s going to be fantastic,” Berland said. “It’s a beautiful design and it’s going to be a beautiful project when it’s done and we wish everybody who’s going to move in here lots and lots of happiness and years of shopping in Huntington and spending your money. They say the best things in life are worth waiting for and, well, this is absolutely worth waiting for.”

Don Monti, chairman of Renaissance Downtowns, referring to Petrone, said, “Huntington Station is something he’s wanted to see developed for many years and I’m happy and proud that prior to the supervisor departing that the dream has come true…and this is just a beginning… the first of many to come.”

“We’re going to attract millennials to this facility, and that speaks highly because the station is a hub, the station is a nucleus of people that commute, especially, and that’s who we are looking to attract.”
— Frank Petrone

Future projects proposed by Renaissance Downtowns, currently in the approval process, include a mixed-use building at the intersection of New York Avenue and Olive Street that will include 66 apartments and ground-level retail, a hotel and office building at New York Avenue and Railroad Street, and artists’ studios in what is currently a municipal parking lot at New York Avenue and Church Street.

Dolores Thompson, a community activist for more than 70 years and the mother of Town Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D), said she’s been trying to bring back Huntington Station since it was “taken away in the 1950s.”

“This is one of the things that I wanted to see before I leave this world and to be here today and be able to witness the fact that we actually have started is like a blessing…I’m so pleased to be here,” Thompson said. In terms of what she hopes will come to Huntington Station, she laughed, “We need a hair salon, then a shoe store, we want a gathering place and a community room…we want everything, okay?”

Robert Rockelein, a member of the civic group Huntington Matters, called this “progress in the right direction.”

“The revitalization has been backsliding for decades, it’s long overdue and it’s going to help populate and reflourish the downtown area,” Rockelein said. “I’d like to see more neighborhood-established businesses rather than regional chains obviously, and give people that live and work here an opportunity to establish something here and build their American dream.”

Local leaders, developers and residents each took turns signing their names on the last piece of steel to be installed on the mixed-use building, which will be placed at the entrance.

Ricardo Reyes-Benitez was charged with public lewdness in East Northport. Photo from SCPD.

Suffolk County Police arrested a Huntington Station man Monday, May 29 for public lewdness after he masturbated in front of a woman outside a Northport grocery store.

A customer was walking in the parking lot of Stop & Shop, located on Fort Salonga Road, when a man masturbated in front of her at 7:50 a.m.

Ricardo Reyes-Benitez, 28, of Sioux Place, was charged with public lewdness. Reyes-Benitez will be held overnight at the 2nd Precinct and arraigned on May 30 at First District Court in Central Islip.

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