We embark on a new year together with exciting plans to improve services and facilities, equipped with the financial strength to do so. Throughout this fiscal year, the Town of Smithtown will continue to complete a number of initiatives, which include improving accessibility for people with disabilities, protecting and preserving our environment, open space and historical properties, rebuilding and expanding our parks system, revitalizing our downtowns, and finally breaking ground on construction of modern wastewater infrastructure. Additionally, we’ve taken a systematic, innovative approach to issues that affect every resident, from traffic, road and pedestrian safety, to erosion and protecting our water quality. Given the amount of newsworthy information for the upcoming year, this will be the first of two State of the Town updates. The second will focus on community services, events and seasonal programming highlights.
Improvements to major infrastructure, road safety & quality
In the coming year, the dynamic team at the Smithtown Department of Highways, led by Superintendent Robert Murphy, will embark on an aggressive plan in an effort to improve roadways, bridges, culverts and vital infrastructure. Over the last year, the Highway Department completed the paving of approximately 18 miles of roads throughout every hamlet in the Town of Smithtown. The upcoming 2023 road program is slated to cover approximately an additional 18 miles of roadways.
Plans to conduct an updated Bridge & Culvert report have been underway, allowing us to prioritize repairs to areas such as the culvert at Landing Avenue. This is in addition to study and work completed last year at Brooksite Drive. Additionally, the Highway Department will complete the replacement of the guardrail on the Brooksite Drive Bridge, without tapping into 2023 road program funds.
An aggressive two year equipment upgrade program is also underway, geared towards maintaining safer roads while saving the taxpayer money. These investments give Highway crews the ability to repair roads, potholes and pavement before further costly and dangerous damage can evolve.
Completed Concrete Sidewalk Repairs: Highway teams repaired approximately 100 concrete defects this year (aprons, curbs & sidewalks) throughout the Township. Areas included:
· Commack: Wayne Pl, Wyoming St & Saratoga St.
· Fort Salonga: Tarleton Ln, Tarleton Ct, Truxton Ln, Tulane Ct & Truesdale Ct
· Hauppauge: Sarah Dr, Libby Rd, Sequoia Dr, Clifford Blvd & Space Way
· Nesconset: Atlas Pl, Suburban Ln, Gemini Ln, Southern Blvd, Maple Glen Ln & Schoolhouse Rd
· Smithtown: Cygnet Dr, Kingfisher Dr, Thrush Dr, New Mill Rd & Elm Ave
· St James: 1st Avenue (partially completed)
This past year, an American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funded camera and drain study was conducted at known trouble spots (Meadow Road, Old Northport Road, and Woodlawn Avenue at Moriches Road) to formulate a plan and timetable for repairs to infrastructure. This study helped Highway to identify the areas of priority to begin work on over the course of the next three years. In addition to road work, repairs will include replacing drainage infrastructure for sustainable stormwater management. Additionally, Highway has formulated a blueprint to upgrade six essential roads (Brooksite Drive, Old Willets Path, Plymouth Boulevard, Morewood Drive, Edgewood Avenue and Meadow Road) which have been identified as candidates for major road improvement. Estimates (for drainage, concrete and paving) are currently underway.
Double the Savings: The Highway Department has been tapped, for a second year, by area School Districts (Smithtown & Hauppauge School Districts) to handle repairs and roadwork on school grounds. This Intermunicipal Agreement (IMA) work is done on weekends (so it does not impact Town or School schedules) and serves as double the savings to the taxpayers. Construction work has ranged from repairing potholes, sidewalks, curbs and asphalt to improving drainage, sumps and walkways. The Highway Department estimated a savings of at least half of the cost of the work, based on current rates. The crews take special pride in performing this work for our youngest residents, as well as representing a great partnership with not only school districts, but Fire Districts, and Village Governments.
Traffic Safety Director Mitch Crowley has laid out a plan for smart lighting, which will in turn save funds on electricity while aiding in efficient traffic study data collection. This sophisticated technology will enable Traffic Safety to monitor operational status and electricity use of the street lighting from the office, or degrade the lighting to a specific percentage if needed. The technology is also equipped with the ability to conduct speed and noise analysis, and operates as cameras for additional security. This smart technology will give Traffic Safety the ability to monitor, maintain and replace broken lighting, in addition to assisting Public Safety and Highway crews with their respective duties. The cost of overtime, snow plowing, and nighttime inspections can add up over time. This investment will undoubtedly produce taxpayer savings, while providing a proactive method for traffic calming, road safety and well maintained night lighting.
Renovations to Parks and Beaches:
Our well documented success completing repairs and renovations to our park system will continue this year with a focus on universally accessible facilities, as well as interior and exterior renovations to the Township’s most popular spaces. With fruitful projects like Flynn Memorial Ballpark becoming a focal point to generate commerce and foot traffic in the surrounding area, we are confident that plans to upgrade the venue spaces at Landing Country Club and the grounds at Hoyt Farm will have the same success for surrounding hamlets. This year, our Parks teams will construct six new restrooms outfitted to comfortably accommodate wheelchair access, improve beach facilities and continue makeovers for a number of sports fields, courts, playgrounds and facade landscaping at locations across the six hamlets. Funding for improved restroom accessibility is provided through the Suffolk County Community Development program, orchestrated by our Planning and Community Development Coordinator Kelly Brown.
Park Improvements Planned for 2023:
Hoyt Farm: At the popular Hoyt Farm Nature Preserve, Parks Department crews will replace the existing pavilions with two new ones, along with brand new barbecue stations, and new concrete landings. A new playground and surfacing will also be completed in time for warmer weather. The restroom areas were repaved last year. Most recently, the water tower was restored and hoisted up on January 3rd, 2023. The wood boards used to reconstruct the water tower were made at the Harned Sawmill. This project was paid for by Cosentino Realty Group in memory of their former employee, local resident and veteran John E. Baker.
Landing Country Club: The Parks Department will begin to make major repairs and renovations inside the venue’s event spaces over the next year. The existing bar and lounge areas inside the Riverview Room will be completely renovated, along with the cafeteria. Outside, the concrete slab will be replaced with a new open pavilion, reinforced by steel bar joists.
Merrywood Cottage will receive a new bar area and kitchen interior, along with retaining walls, walkways, and front steps with new railings at the entrance.
The Nissequogue Room will be revived with a stunning cathedral ceiling, interior alterations and two new handicap accessible bathrooms.
We will also be installing state-of-the-art HVAC systems to all three venue spaces, restoring the gazebo and walkways at the circle in front of the buildings. Last but certainly not least, the Parks Department will begin renovation to the interior of the kitchen and seating area at the Country Club Halfway House.
Previously completed projects at Landing Country Club include renovations to the pool area, restrooms and small concession, located at the entrance of the Country Club (3rd and 4th hole.) This was in addition to Phase One of repairs completed in 2019, which included a new handicapped ramp with a connecting sidewalk to the buildings, golf cart paths and roadways, a custom-built starter shack, halfway house, new landscaping at the entryway island, sidewalks, benches and fencing. The handicapped ramp and connecting sidewalk was made possible thanks to community development funds from Suffolk County and orchestrated by our Planning and Community Development Coordinator Kelly Brown.
Brady Park: In our commitment to improve accessibility for people with disabilities, the restrooms at Brady Park will be renovated with new stalls and sinks. Additionally, we will install new fencing around the tennis and basketball courts and will be adding a new pickleball court. Previously completed improvements include the refurbishing of the tennis and basketball courts, new playground, fencing and all new energy efficient LED lighting.
Kings Park Memorial: The construction of a new pavilion and concrete surface is currently underway, which will provide shade and an area to relax at Kings Park Memorial Park. Additionally, the restrooms at the park will be remodeled to accommodate improved handicapped accessibility. This work is in addition to the completed state-of-the-art new playground, surfacing, sidewalk and fencing at the park.
Savatt Square: The Parks Department will install a new sprinkler system and cobblestone to the park area at Savatt Square this year. These improvements will complement the previous facade work, and help to sustain the new landscaping. This popular area is where many concerts and community events take place in the Spring, Summer and Fall. It will also complement the downtown area, which will be receiving a streetscape makeover as sewer installation and roadwork is completed.
Improvements to Sports Fields: We will be renovating the baseball fields at Gibbs Pond, Gaynor and Veterans Memorial Parks this year. At Gaynor Park, we’re adding sod and a sprinkler system to the outfield at the newly turfed little league field. At Gibbs Pond Park, we are regrading the existing infield, adding new outfield fencing, backstop replacement and new dugouts equipped with a covered roof. At Veterans Memorial (aka Moriches Park) we will be renovating the existing baseball field, adding a new backstop and new retaining walls to make the baseball field wider. In addition to the ballfield construction at Veterans Memorial, the Parks Department will be adding a Synthetic Turf to the third soccer field, to help improve playing time. New tennis courts will be installed with pickleball court compatibility, as well as a new basketball court. All new fencing will surround the perimeter of the basketball and tennis courts.
Pickleball: The Town has approved the addition of four new pickleball courts. The location of each court will be determined in the coming months.
Callahan's Beach: While we eagerly await the necessary DEC permits to begin the repairs to the walkway and bluff wall at Callahan's Beach, all bids and funds are in place to start work the moment we receive the necessary authorization. As long as we get these permits in the next few weeks, we are on track to complete the project in time for the community to enjoy during the summer season. We did not receive FEMA support for the damage caused by Tropical Depression Ida and the unexpected storm that took place in August of 2021. Thus, this was an incredibly arduous process to get underway, given its environmentally sensitive nature, DEC permit process, in addition to identifying funding. Regardless, plans are to install the new drainage, seawall, walkways and curbing. Additionally, we are building a new playground and surface on top of the camping area at Callahan's Beach.
Kings Park Bluff: Just down the street, at the Kings Park Bluff, Parks teams will also begin building new floating docks and decking.
Long Beach: In our continued commitment to renovate our parks system to accommodate individuals with disabilities, both the Men’s and Women’s restrooms will be remodeled with all new (ADA compliant) handicap accessible stalls and sinks. Additionally, we will be adding new showers to the patio area, replacing the current retaining walls with an expansion of the walkway, new handrails and façade renovations. Last year, we added a roof over the stage at Long Beach, and state-of-the-art lighting for concerts. We held an unveiling and dedication ceremony in memory of one our own; Parks Labor Crew Leader (II) Don Misuraca, who loved working at Long Beach. Improvements are expected to be completed in time for the upcoming beach season.
Schubert Beach: Further down the road at Otto Schubert Beach, our Parks teams will begin renovating the restrooms with universally accessible, ADA compliant stalls and sinks.
Short Beach: A major facelift is underway at Short Beach, which includes new landscaping at the island circle, and upgrades to the exterior entrance, curbing and sidewalk for improved handicap accessibility to the building and bathroom areas. Parks teams will be replacing new concrete landings and walkways throughout the facility, and adding new fencing around the playground and walkways. Additionally, we will be adding outdoor shower areas to two locations, building a new gazebo and adding a pergola to the beach area. These renovations will both modernize the beach amenities and give Short Beach a much needed makeover for residents to enjoy all summer long.
Bay Constable Headquarters: Our Bay Constables and Harbormaster, who regularly patrol Smithtown waters, assist boaters, and maintain waterway safety, will soon have a new headquarters. This project is already underway and includes the addition of a second story. The headquarters is equipped with a new entryway and second story, stabilized by Helical Piles. The base of operations includes the construction of two offices, locker room, bathroom, and kitchen.
Hauppauge Recreation Development Association: In continuation of our community engagement with Hauppauge Recreation Development Association (HRDA), we are unrelenting in our commitment to restore parks in the Hauppauge area. Over the last year, we’ve made improvements to parks such as Burr Winkle, in addition to major renovation work at Hoyt Farm and the total makeover of John E. Baker Park, formerly known as Laurel Drive Park. We resurfaced the basketball and tennis courts, and converted one tennis court for pickleball at Burr Winkle Park. We completed infrastructure work, new sidewalks, and drainage repairs at Whitman Hollow Park, and have cut back the tree line to level out a much larger park space. Our Director of Parks Joe Arico has been working diligently with members of HRDA on plans for a larger renovation there.
Town Hall: This year, plans are to complete renovation work with all new restrooms, and the restoration of the rear hallways where folks tend to gather near the Tax Receiver's Office. Last year, we completed a much needed makeover to the exterior, with automated handicap accessible entryway and facade beautification at Town Hall. Parks Department crews installed a new platform and steps, brick pavers at the public (Main Street) entrance, new landscaping and lighting. Inside the mailroom, security post areas were renovated to improve access for residents to conduct business. The Highway Department regraded and paved portions of the parking lot, in addition to installing new drainage infrastructure to help prevent flooding issues. Traffic Safety designed and marked the parking area to allow for closer handicap parking to the entrance.
Smithtown’s Revitalization Efforts:
Over the course of the last 4 ½ years, the Town of Smithtown has advanced the public's calls for revitalization throughout the small business areas. As we press on with our endeavors to sewer Downtown Main Street in Smithtown, we’ve made great strides in improving the unofficial entryway to Smithtown, at the headwaters of the Nissequogue, where the historic Bull Monument watches over Paul T. Given Park.
In May of 2021, the Town Board unanimously approved the purchase of the former Oasis gentlemen's club, located across from the historic bull monument. In January, the Governor signed the bill officially granting Paul T. Given Park ownership to the Town of Smithtown in a park swap of Bill Richards Park with Suffolk County. Upon receiving final approvals from DEC, the Town will begin to plan for minor remediation and repairs to the infrastructure to improve the quality of life for both its visitors and the local ecosystem. Tentative plans include the removal of invasive Japanese knotweed, adding bioswales to protect the Nissequogue Headwaters from stormwater runoff, added street trees and new landscaping along Main Street. We remain committed to preserving the client base of the local canoe/kayak rental business which operates from Paul T. Given Park. As such, it was laid out in the State Alienation Bill that this park will be open to residents throughout the County and State, in addition to Smithtown Residents.
Lake Avenue Revitalization: What once was a neglected and vacant Lake Avenue is now a very vibrant and walkable downtown area, packed with small boutique shops, restaurants and offices. Last year, we completed the final phase of the Lake Avenue Revitalization with the unveiling of the Municipal Off Street Parking Lot and Celebrate Park. Traffic Safety recently installed a new LED pedestrian crosswalk at the entrance of the park, to improve safety and access for surrounding businesses. If you have yet to traverse the new and improved Lake Avenue, I highly recommend taking a stroll or stopping by Celebrate Park to relax or enjoy an ice cream cone in the sun.
A feasibility study is currently underway by Suffolk County to determine an optimal plan to connect the sewer line to a wastewater treatment facility. The feasibility study is expected to be completed in approximately two months.
Off Street Parking: In addition to improving traffic conditions and pedestrian safety, off-street parking lots are a vital component to Downtown Revitalization, improving foot traffic and property value for small businesses.
Lake Avenue, St James - Lake Avenue is now home to the third municipal off-street parking lot completed in a central business district in a four year span. The municipal lot features 33 parking spaces, electric vehicle charging station, ornate street lighting and two entrances.
Pulaski Road, Kings Park - In 2020, the Town commemorated the completion of the Jumpstart Grant funded Municipal Parking Lot in Downtown Kings Park, located on Pulaski Road, just off Main Street. The municipal lot contains 23 spaces, an electric vehicle charging station with two spaces for EV vehicles, and state-of-the-art LED cost-efficient lighting.
Bellemeade Avenue, Smithtown - In 2018, we completed the Bellemeade Avenue Municipal Parking Lot, providing customer parking (139 spaces) for 13 small businesses.
Sewer Infrastructure Update:
Kings Park: I’m very pleased to announce that the construction process for sewer infrastructure in Kings Park is set to break ground in the Spring. Just two weeks ago, County Executive Steve Bellone signed off on an additional $5.4 Million in funds to go towards reconstructing the roads once the infrastructure has been installed. This funding will allow this project to move forward uninterrupted. In addition to the installation and expansion of the sewer district into downtown Kings Park, the County and the Town have allocated revitalization funding for streetscape work (street lighting, sidewalks, crosswalks, etc.), giving the Kings Park business district a much needed facelift once the infrastructure is installed. Residents wishing to stay informed and contribute comments or submit questions may visit www.kpdowntown.com and sign up for newsletter alerts.
Smithtown: Suffolk County is in the process of conducting due diligence (surveys, testing etc) on a derelict building site (owned by the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) at the former Kings Park Psychiatric Center) as the only known viable location to recharge clean water back into the ground. The plan would involve removing an abandoned building, using 2 1/2 (out of 17) acres of the land for the recharge basin, while preserving the remaining 14.5 acres of land as open space. This process is vital to construct much needed sewer infrastructure in downtown Smithtown, using a $20 million NYS Transformative Investment Program (TIP) grant to partially fund construction. This is a very large and delicate step in a bigger plan to restore economic growth and the health of our precious waterways.
This progress would not be possible without the Smithtown Sewer Working Group, led by Smithtown United President Tim Small, Suffolk County Deputy County Executive & Water Czar Peter Scully, Smithtown’s Planning Director Peter Hans, Principal Planner Allyson Murray, and Environmental Director David Barnes, in conjunction with Council on Environmental Quality Vice Chair Michael Kaufman, Kings Park Chamber President Tony Tanzi, Smithtown Chamber Executive Director Barbara Franco, and representatives from surrounding neighborhoods.
Note: In 2019 the community sewer working group was formed to help execute a viable plan to sewer downtown Smithtown. Together, the group devoted approximately two years to examining alternative approaches to bring sewers to the Smithtown Business District. After careful deliberation and analysis, the working group concluded that the most environmentally beneficial and cost-effective plan would be to connect downtown Smithtown to the existing state-of-the-art treatment plant at Kings Park, utilizing a small parcel of land to return water treated by the plant to the ground. Community outreach for this project garnered broad support from local organizations, and was demonstrated in a letter signing to Governor Hochul in Fall of 2021. Support included eight community based organizations (Kings Park Chamber of Commerce, Kings Park Civic Association, Leo P. Ostebo Kings Park Heritage Museum, Smithtown United, Smithtown Chamber of Commerce, Smithtown Historical Society, St Catherine of Siena Medical Center & Vision Long Island) signing on in support of this project, along with State, County and Town Government officials.
Recently, the group met with the Smithtown Chamber of Commerce Board Members, explaining that a solution and a plan has been identified in place. Next steps are to get the project fully designed and shovel ready, and to work together with the community and all elected officials to secure the additional funding needed to advance the project to construction.
Downtown Facade Grants for Small Business:
Last year, the Town of Smithtown launched a Small Business Facade Grant program, which would provide funds of up to $20,000 to property owners to enhance or renovate the exterior of their storefronts. Funding for this program was allocated from the American Rescue Plan Act. This program, intended to assist small business owners to get back on their feet in the wake of the pandemic, while beautifying the downtown areas, is overseen by Community Development Coordinator Kelly Brown. I’m pleased to announce that we’re currently in the process of facilitating four grants, with expressed interest from a handful of other local businesses. Interested property owners/businesses can apply and learn more about this excellent program by clicking the Facade Grant Button located on the home page of SmithtownNY.gov: Smithtownny.gov/684/FACADE-GRANT-PROGRAM
Last year, the Department of Environment and Waterways, Highway, Engineering, and Parks Departments worked in conjunction with Suffolk County crews to form a unique Stream Team. This program is spearheaded by department leadership; Joe Arico and his Assistant Town Park Maintenance Director Tom Heester, David Barnes, Mark Riley, Robert Murphy & his Deputy Superintendent Jim Deutsch. The team studied and inspected the small streams beneath us for blockages, sediment and invasive species. They did an incredible job engaging with the various neighborhoods, residents, and each other to clean and maintain areas where sediment buildup and poor water flow caused flooding issues for the residents. The plan moving forward is to maintain these clean streams through proper management and partnership, hence giving local residents peace of mind during significant rain events.
Hazardous Waste: In 2022, the Town of Smithtown collected approximately 50 tons of household hazardous waste from residents for safe disposal. More than 665 households safely shredded over 16 tons of paper during our free shred events in the Spring and Fall.
Stormwater Runoff: The Department of Highways has ramped up stormwater runoff and drainage efforts, cleaning our 466 catch basins throughout the Town. Additionally, with the use of ARPA funds, crews were able to clean the vegetation of all 25 town recharge basins. Cleanups such as these involve removing debris, harmful plastics, and other pollutants to groundwater.
Tree Planting & Preservation: In addition to the Town of Smithtown’s 2022 Tree City USA recognition, the Town received its third consecutive growth award from the Arbor Day Foundation. In 2022, the Department of Environment and Waterways (DEW) planted 600 trees, with an additional 150 trees planted by the Highway Department, totaling 2,000 trees planted over the last three years. At the end of 2022, Smithtown Urban Foresters were able to maintain a one to one ratio of street trees planted to removed, and there are plans to exceed that ratio this coming year. They will do so by applying for new forestry grants, expected to be announced this month. Additionally, our tree inventory program helps our department experts to identify and treat ailing trees before they need to be removed, without needing to rely on residential calls or inquiries. This database also aids in protecting trees from harmful invasive species such as the Emerald ash borer beetle.
STEM Partnership: The Town of Smithtown is pleased to begin the process of expanding the very popular STEM partnership program to include Kings Park School District, along with the Smithtown Central School District. New STEM presentations include: recycling/solid waste, shellfish repopulation, forestry & invasive species, stormwater pollution and nitrogen reduction. The objective of the program is for students to apply lesson plans utilizing the branches of science to address real world issues and uncover ways to preserve and protect our local environment.
On behalf of the Town of Smithtown administration, and municipal workforce, we look forward to rolling our sleeves up to go to work with the community on the opportunities, public matters and all that lies ahead. We will continue to prioritize innovative ways to improve quality of life at every step of the way. Inclusivity for individuals with disabilities, traffic and pedestrian safety, our drinking water, ecosystem and local economy remain our highest priority. Thanks to outstanding fiscal management, grant programming, and outside the box thinking, we are able to achieve these goals for the people of Smithtown, despite a less than desirable economy. I’d like to close by thanking the incredible Smithtown workforce, department leadership, and my fellow elected public servants who go to work each day with a constant passion for serving our community. It is a great privilege to serve the people of Smithtown together with this remarkable team.