Deer Park Revitalization Meeting Draws Community
Community Turns Out Again for Deer Park Revitalization Meeting
The desire to improve our community has not wavered as dozens turn out for updates from local officials at the latest Deer Park Revitalization Meeting. Supervisor Rich Schaffer and Suffolk County Legislator Tom Donnelly addressed the audience consisting of residents and local business owners. Both the Town of Babylon and the County have been very receptive to the calls for improvements that sparked the conversations over a year ago.
Deer Park has never been shy about expressing opinions about areas of the community that need attention. In 2019, a survey conducted by the Deer Park Chamber of Commerce drew nearly 600 participants. Among concerns expressed were traffic and pedestrian safety on Deer Park Ave, the condition of medians and storefronts, as well as the strong desire for a downtown area that attracts new businesses. The sentiment that came from the attendees last night echoed these desires as the Deer Park Revitalization meeting went on for nearly 2 hours of productive discussion.
Deer Park Revitalization Meeting Takeaways
Supervisor Schaffer opened the meeting addressing the coronavirus and ways to stay safe. The recent concerns did not seem to hinder attendance at all. The meeting quickly shifted to a recap of the beautification efforts from the past year and the announcement of a County grant in which the Town of Babylon will seek to match funding if secured. This grant will be undertaken by the Deer Park Community Association who called the meeting, under the direction of the Supervisor, to hear from residents directly as to what should be considered.
Also introduced was Eric Alexander from Vision Long Island
. According to Supervisor Schaffer, Alexander has a knack for improving traffic efficiency and revitalizing areas in a way that "maintains a suburban feel." Long time Deer Park residents have often voiced concern over "urbanization" and more crowding. This exact concern was shared by a 49-year-old resident who said that "Deer Park is crowded enough". He also expressed that taxes were already too high and that he and his family were worried that efforts would drive up his tax burden. Another perspective from a younger resident was that he and his friends did not want to stay in Deer Park. Part of the reason was the lack of affordable housing and places of interest. The 2 viewpoints offer insight into the contrast of opinion between generations.
Revitalization in other parts of Long Island has been shown to attract the younger generation. One great example is the Village of Patchogue which has turned into a vibrant area buzzing with storefronts, restaurants, and nightlife. Going this route, which is not the official direction, would have its pros and cons. Patchogue has a challenge that is similar to Deer Park, which is a lack of parking. This will need to be addressed if we want to ever achieve a scenario where shoppers and patrons walk from store to store regularly. This remains a hindrance to business growth for Deer Park.
Also asked was the age-old question "When are we getting sewers?". There was a mixture of laughter and groaning as this has been a desire for many years. Of those surveyed in 2019, sewers were favored at the strong percentage of 67.3%. We will likely need them to accomplish another desire of the community. That is to attract more higher-end restaurants. Over 74% of residents named eating establishments as the type of business they would most like to see in the proposed downtown area. Legislator Tom Donelly addressed the crowd on this acknowledging the town's continued calls but touted many factors, including the area's water table, would play into the prioritization of this initiative.
What Areas of Deer Park are Targeted for Revitalization
Supervisor Shaffer shared that unlike Copiague, which is a relatively compact hamlet of Babylon, Deer Park is spread out. For this reason, several areas will be considered with the following mentioned:
- Deer Park Avenue
- Long Island Ave between DPA and Carll's Path
- Long Island Ave between Carll's Path and Commack Rd.
- Parts of Commack Rd.
It's important to note that these areas are a target for consideration and that no final decision has been made. Right now, community-driven discussions are the first step. It is assumed that the extent of the beautification will be dependent upon the results of the grant. One thing is for sure, a growing desire to improve our community shows no signs of stalling and with the voice of residents, businesses, local officials, and civic organizations, there is optimism that these meetings will lead to real change.