By GREGORY ZELLER //
Following wins by Westbury in 2016 and Hicksville in 2017, Central Islip has earned the nod – and the $10 million prize – as the Long Island regional winner in Albany’s yearly downtown-revitalization competition.
The 10 regional winners in the third-annual Downtown Regional Initiative contest – a statewide competitive-application process that doles out $10 million stipends to spruce up distressed downtowns in each of New York’s 10 economic-development zones – were unofficially announced Tuesday.
On Wednesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo made it official, announcing the state will collaborate with the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council to revitalize the Central Islip community – an investment that will “deliver a significant boost not only to Central Islip’s growing downtown community, but to the entire Long Island economy,” according to the governor.
“I commend the community’s leaders for developing projects that envision a stronger, more sustainable economy,” Cuomo said in a statement, adding the $10 million investment “will drive further economic development in and around Islip’s downtown for generations to come.”
Central Islip’s DRI funds won’t likely make an impact until well into 2019 – Hicksville only recently kicked off four “transformational projects” partially funded by the state stipend it won in August 2017, following months of planning efforts.
Central Islip, a census-designated hamlet within the Town of Islip, will first appoint a local planning committee made up of municipal representatives, community leaders and other regional stakeholders. Using about $300,000 of the $10 million prize money, the committee will create a Strategic Investment Plan designed to best leverage the DRI spoils.
When it does get around to spending Albany’s downtown-redevelopment money, Central Islip will likely leverage the state’s ongoing investments in the Long Island Rail Road’s “third track” and the LIRR Double Track Project by promoting transit-oriented development adjacent to the LIRR’s Central Islip station.
Also part of Central Islip’s award-winning proposals are new downtown sewers and mixed-use developments, with the Town of Islip eyeing potential public-private partnerships to make it all happen.
With “many sites along the downtown Carleton Avenue corridor that are ripe for redevelopment,” the big-picture idea is to complete new streets and calm traffic to make Central Islip’s downtown “a more inviting and enjoyable area,” according to the governor’s office.
Town of Islip Supervisor Angie Carpenter said Wednesday she is “grateful for the governor’s confidence and investment in this community, and for recognizing all the great things Central Islip has to offer.”
“By working together with local stakeholders, we will develop a plan that will affect the kind of positive change of which we can all be proud,” Carpenter added. “I look forward to implementing the $10 million award and moving projects forward to enhance our downtown for generations of families to enjoy.”