Crowd rallies for planned housing near mass transit

Originally published: June 28, 2010 8:22 PM
Updated: June 28, 2010 9:08 PM
By ZEKE MILLER  zeke.miller@newsday.com

More than two dozen people rallied late Monday afternoon to show their support for the proposed 490-unit AvalonBay Transit Oriented District in Huntington Station, a development designed to offer housing near mass transit to people of varying ages and incomes.

The demonstration, organized by the Long Island Progressive Coalition, a community advocacy group, came two weeks after a rally opposing the same development drew nearly 50 people to a Huntington Town Board meeting.

“This is a response to members of this community that are lying about the good this project will bring,” Lisa Tyson, executive director of the progressive coalition, said. “We want the board to know that the public supports this project.”

Holding signs saying “Yes in my Backyard” and shouting “YIMBY,” supporters of the project said it would reduce reliance on cars and bring needed tax and business revenue into the community.

The 26.6-acre site, north of East 5th Street and south of the Long Island Rail Road tracks, is within a quarter mile of the train station.

It is now vacant and zoned for single-family housing.

AvalonBay has proposed building both rental and for-sale units, with at least 25 percent devoted to “workforce housing” for people who work in the area and meet income qualifications.

Plans call for a clubhouse, swimming pool and outdoor play areas in addition to the housing units.

At the rally, David Hanover, a lifelong Huntington resident who is a junior at Cornell University, called for approval of the project so he can live in Huntington after he graduates.

“I want this to remain my backyard,” he said, channeling the LIPC rallying cry.

Ruth-Claire Weintraub, another lifelong resident, said that for years Huntington Station has been a dumping ground for the town.

“It’s not a dumping ground, it’s my home,” she said, “and I want it enhanced by AvalonBay.”

The Town Board must approve rezoning before Avalon Bay can proceed with the project.

Earlier this month the board postponed the vote until July 6.