It’s easy– and understandable– to be discouraged by the problems and blight along Middle Country Road and elsewhere in our community. But it’s far better to be proactive, productive, and positive. Join the civic, go to meetings, ask questions, offer suggestions, solutions and assistance. Never give up!
The tide IS beginning to turn. There are many reasons to believe Middle Island is undergoing a mini-Renaissance. Here are a few:
In the last few years, taxpayers have said YES to an expanded library and a new fire department headquarters. The larger and renovated Longwood Public Library reopened in October 2015, on time and on budget. The MIFD project was nominated for a Smart Growth Award for its community outreach and plan for uninterrupted service. LPL, Sandy Hills and MICA’s president received the 2017 Smart Growth Award for Mix of Uses. Learn more about that here:
Our area’s one car dealership, Toyota, has undergone new ownership twice in the past year. Owners insist they are not only staying put, but are expanding onto the old PCRichards site next door — a potential reuse of empty retail space. Two new, free-standing preschool/day care centers are here in Middle Island: Habitots and The Learning Experience. There’s a new owner at Tudor Oaks; Fairfield purchased the troubled complex in the fall of 2014 and immediately began addressing concerns by repaving roadways and parking lots, replacing roofs, and removing trash and debris. The restoration of the five buildings there, both interior and exterior, is quite remarkable. And McDonalds has moved from Ridge to the front pad at the King Kullen shopping center. We still don’t quite understand why, but we’re happy their employees will retain their jobs, and we’re hoping it will help the shopping center, too. A Gold’s Gym is proposed for the large end store near King Kullen, where Habitots once was.
Concern for Independent Living’s long planned development at Sandy Hills is finally open. The 123 rental units there will be supportive housing for veterans and other deserving groups; all lower level apartments are handicapped/wheelchair accessible. Sandy Hills is also key to revitalizing the dead gas station and strip mall on the northeast corner of Rts 25 and 21, as well as the old Kogel lumber yard to the west. That’s because Sandy Hills will have an expandable sewage treatment plant that any project at Kogel can tie into– important because of its low- lying proximity to the Carmans River watershed. Michael Nelin, owner of the dead gas station/ strip mall, has proposed a new 7Eleven/gas station there; MICA is monitoring this project as well as another one nearby for a storage center.
Even the two most blighted properties in Middle Island are starting to give under pressure. On April 15, 2015 the old Island Squire restaurant was the subject of a TOB Public Hearing to consider its demolition. This required legal step lead to the removal of this once famous but oh-so-blighted eatery on May 12 — an event attended by many who shared both fond memories of the place and were equally happy to see the dilapidated building bite the dust. And Breslin Realty’s huge beast of the old Kmart at Artist Lake is finally gone! Unable to secure any big box tenants, Breslin is supposed to be revising his plan to include housing and additional recreational opportunities. TOB Supervisor Ed Romaine has promised MICA that none of Breslin’s other projects in Brookhaven will move forward until he solves Kmart first. Breslin began demo at Kmart in March 2106, and as of mid-July, only some sand piles remain. Hopes for a community park on the western section are being actively pursued by MICA, LYSA, SC and TOB leaders.
Home to the amazing Longwood Central School District, Middle Island is still a great place to live, love, learn, raise a family, retire and recreate. Let’s continue to work together to improve everyone’s quality of life.