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Romaine: Community Needs To Weigh In Before 'College Town' Idea Moves Forward

Supervisor says he is not altogether opposed to the idea, but that it needs more discussion.

Brookhaven town supervisor Ed Romaine on Monday said the community needs to talk more about the idea that has come to be known as "college town" in Three Village – and said the town would be willing to facilitate further discussion.

The idea, proposed by former supervisor Mark Lesko prior to his has been controversial since it was first publicly introduced to the community in September of 2012. Lesko convened a committee of representatives from various organizations throughout the community to discuss the idea of redeveloping the Route 25A corridor in the vicinity of the Stony Brook LIRR station into an appealing, walkable, safe mixed-use neighborhood with shops, restaurants, and other businesses – a project that would not involve eminent domain, according to the town's planning commissioner, Tullio Bertoli.

Romaine did not describe the idea as altogether dead, but rather, he said more input was needed before any idea could move forward to the planning stages.

"That’s something that I would like to hear a lot about from the community before I judge any of this. ... I would want to have a plan that the community could endorse," Romaine told the crowd gathered for the monthly meeting of the Civic Association of the Setaukets and Stony Brook.

At the meeting, councilman Steve Fiore-Rosenfeld said the concept already had initial support from a number of those community representatives involved in the meetings.

"We had multiple brainstorming sessions over the course of a year," he said. "It was, 'Let’s make sure there’s even a desire in the community to examine the zoning.' And there was."

The town in September issued a request for qualifications seeking a master planner or consultant to help guide the process.

"It was not about hiring a developer, it was about helping the planning staff because they keep getting cut," he said. "Planning is the fundamental power we have at the town level."

Romaine suggested that Fiore-Rosenfeld draft a resolution that would formally appoint a committee to further explore the redevelopment idea. The "college town" idea got an endorsement Monday in Newdsay, which said:

Romaine – a skillful politician who knows how to get things done – could do a lot to work with the community, calm its fears, and help its leaders to see the value of this plan – not only to the university, but to its neighbors. ... Getting this college town built would be a memorable summation of Romaine's stay in Town Hall.

John January 10, 2013 at 12:20 AM
BOOOO!!!! The silence is, all though not suprising, is???? College town, my @#*
SB Otter January 10, 2013 at 02:05 AM
Why dis the process before it's even presented? The station area could at the very least use a vision. Its kind of dumpy right now - I've looked at it coming home every day for 4+ decades - now right next to a *major* university, it could be so much more. Lets work together make it a better place, something we can all live with and be proud of. If we don't, the university will evolve without us - leaving us a station area thats the same old place its always been.
LivingSmall January 10, 2013 at 02:13 AM
Many of us bought here because it was a residential community adjacent to a university. Where would you propose apartment buildings be built? What would have to be purchased by developers or worse yet, seized via Eminent Domain? Why is it that the permanent residents who've invested their savings into their homes have to be set aside for the university's transient population? Have you seen student ghettos in other college areas -- SUNY Albany, for example -- build a few apartment buildings and watch what happens to the houses nearby. Like dominoes, they will gradually become student rentals. Has ANYONE looked into the history behind the community and cottage homes north of 25A behind the Stony Brook School? The Chautauqua Movement, founded upstate NY in 1874 landed in Stony Brook at the turn of the 20th Century. SBU's library holds books on the subject. The NY Times even featured a piece on the Stony Brook Chautauqua on July 4, 1910: http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=F60D13FC395D11738DDDAD0894DF405B808DF1D3 Ironic that the representatives for an institute of higher learning can not appreciate, or have failed to research the history of this particular area of Stony Brook.
SB Otter January 10, 2013 at 02:52 AM
Living Small - I agree, no apartment buildings & History duly noted - the area by the station is in dire need of help. Believe it or not, there is a growing university over those tracks. At this point the horse has left the barn. The key is getting to the point of working together. We need solutions to a multitude of issues, off campus rentals (perhaps a student code of conduct - along with some help from university police) - a sidewalk along Quaker etc......
Zachary Baum January 10, 2013 at 03:11 AM
There is a student code of conduct. The problem lies in a deficit of housing which forces students to find rentals off campus
Zachary Baum January 10, 2013 at 03:13 AM
And yes obviously some towns have adopted poor development and have allowed the power of the university trump the power of the people but it doesn't have to be that way. We could have development that is conscious of the community without eminent domain. Some of which could be done on empty parcels on stony brook university's property
RealTea January 10, 2013 at 02:34 PM
I don't need anybody to 'calm my fears'. I need a town government with the guts and integrity to deal with the 20 gorillas living illegally at 150 Christian Avenue and all the other illegal rentals in the area. I'n not interested in some smoke screen nonsense about these tenements being 'brought into compliance'. Let's just say I'm skeptical that the town and the university will do anything except crush and ruin our community. Yea, College Town. Right.
RealTea January 10, 2013 at 02:42 PM
Regarding SB Otter's comment: "The area by the station is in dire need of help". Really? Compared to what other stretch of 25A, exactly? To me it seems to be lined with a number of small, well maintained, thriving businesses that well serve the community as well as the students quite well. I think it's perfectly appropriate as an interface between the university and the neighboring community.
Truffuls January 10, 2013 at 03:05 PM
Unless they plan on using eminent domain to turn 25A into a multi-lane roadway, expansion can't happen. The road simply can not handle any more traffic. It is to the point now that you can not travel that stretch of road without hitting backed up traffic. The alternative to 25A is, unfortunately, my street; Lower Sheep Pasture Rd.. That has now turned into a high speed, dangerous and noisy "residential" street. Cops have clocked speeders doing a hair under 90mph on that road. Every time the town tinkers or "beautifies" 25A, the traffic increases on my road. The noise goes all bloody night long and I don't think a day goes by that there isn't at least a fender bender on the road.
AJ January 10, 2013 at 04:59 PM
How about enforcing the current housing codes and stop the development of the so called student housing. Mr. Roamaine should go by 150 christian on a Saturday night or Sunday morning and check out the # of cars that the eight residents drive- 22. The poor students have more cars than the taxpaying residents. Our community has to change so that students who may be here for 4 years can have the College Town experience ! This is all about more money for SBU. Remeber the names of the politicians and the judges that cater to the developers and ignore us.
ShawnNuzzo January 10, 2013 at 07:07 PM
I live within walking distance of the Stony Brook train station and that stretch of 25A is our de facto "Main Street". In my opinion, this is most unfortunate in its present state. I am hoping for a well-designed, pedestrian-orientated Main Street that everyone can be proud of. This will require the Town, State and University working together to achieve this worthwhile goal. As with anything, proper planning is the key. I believe this is an ideal location for smart development not only due to the proximity to the railroad station, but because of its access to the growing population of 25,000 students as well as 5,000 faculty and staff members, who are going to be here whether we plan for pedestrian-orientated development or not. I say let's not squander this opportunity. Thanks for listening.
Truffuls January 10, 2013 at 07:56 PM
Check your numbers, ShawnNuzzo. I work at Stony Brook. There are just under 46,000 people on this campus. Just a hair under 28,000 students. Yes, the area is an eye sore, but before they do cosmetic surgery on the buildings and make it safer for foot traffic, they need to expand the roadway to handle the horrific traffic. That will require eminent domain acquisitions along the roadway to expand it, as well as to add foot paths. After you expand the roads, then how will the existing commercial buildings handle the loss of the tiny bit of parking they had? The more difficult you make it for cars, the more dangerous it becomes. Drivers are already aggressive and PO'd about the traffic and bottle necks. These students driving all over our community are agressive, lack experience & concentration and speed. Many of them are from overseas and do not understand our driving laws and habits. Before anything is done to draw more people to the area, the roadways need to be expanded to handle the extra volume. The only way to do that is through eminent domain. Are the affected property owners willing to turn over their frontage for the project?
LivingSmall January 14, 2013 at 08:49 PM
Mr. Nuzzo -- do you own or rent? If you own, chances are you are far enough removed to not be directly impacted by any proposed changes to the 25A corridor through town. I wager you live north of Christian. If you rent, how long are you planning to stay here for? Are you employed by SBU? The only people in the immediate area who support this are SBU employees who live closer to or north of Christian Ave. The whole idea of making 25A safer for pedestrians is almost farcical; the rather intelligent (not being facetious) SBU students can not manage to cross a two lane street with traffic lights and crosswalks. They cross with the finesse of the gaggles of geese crossing Main St in the Village. For this we should redevelop 25A? SBU has a defined border which it has breached in the past. It has moved beyond being a good neighbor. If it wants to create a downtown for the hotel guests (which the school district will not see tax revenue from as it is on NYS property) or someplace for UHSB patient family members, Lavalle stadium attendees, et. al. to gather and congregate -- think Nicolls Rd. There is little space along 25A between the train tracks and existing businesses.
lolo March 21, 2013 at 12:15 AM
This NOT a college town. Mr.Romaine better not leave for vacation until he does something about this mess. We (at least the majority) voted for these politicans, let them do something for us. ENOUGH OF CROOKHAVEN.

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