By Raymond Janis
Amid the honks and roaring engines of traffic on Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 22, Huntington city officials and business leaders gathered to commemorate the opening of an electric clock tower at Huntington station.
The Huntington Station Business Improvement District donated the clock tower to the city. Located at the intersection of New York Avenue and Pulaski Road, the donation includes the clock, landscaping and sidewalks.
“The mission of the BID is to add security, beautification and promotion to the region,” said BID President Frank Cosentino. “This is one of many other big improvements we would like to make.”
The BID includes business owners from Huntington Station and has made several significant investments in the area. However, Cosentino said the donation represents a shift in BID activities toward permanent beautification initiatives.
“We do Christmas lights that go up and down, flower baskets that go up and down,” he said. “Everything we’ve ever done in the past has been short-lived improvements. We decided to start moving to more permanent beautification projects. The city helped us with the property and we bought the clock and all the upgrades.
Cosentino has owned a hardware store in Huntington Station since 1985. He said his involvement with the BID is a way to give back to the place that has supported him all those years. According to him, projects like these will contribute to the deep-rooted historical and cultural traditions of the community.
“Huntington Station reminds me of growing up in Astoria,” he said. “It’s a very close-knit neighborhood with lots of families. It’s always been a much more stable area than you might think. I can name 50 to 100 customers who have been in the area since 1985.”
The elected officials joined the BID on Tuesday for a dedication ceremony for the clock tower. City Supervisor Ed Smyth (right) saw the donation as a harbinger of better days for Huntington Station.
“The generous donation from the Huntington Station BID adds to the charm and character of this bustling corner of downtown Huntington Station,” said Smyth. “This new clock tower serves as a symbol of our local investment in business and in the revitalization of Huntington Station.”
The Times of Huntington reported in December that the city had finalized a deal with Suffolk County to fund sewer expansion at Huntington Station. According to Smyth, the Huntington Station Hub Sewer Infrastructure Project will allow for significantly greater capital investment in the community.
“As you officially keep time with this new clock tower, true economic revitalization in the downtown Huntington Station neighborhood is now possible,” he said. “Never will we be closer to rectifying past failures of urban renewal. [than] with our investment in Huntington Station, especially with the upcoming sewer line.
Councilman Sal Ferro (R) echoed that sentiment. He said the expansion of sewer infrastructure will stimulate economic activity and business development.
“The sewer line going down [Route] 110 is going to be another part of that revitalization,” he said. “This clock tower is such an important part. It is a symbol of what is to come.
Ferro remembers working as an apprentice carpenter at Huntington Station more than four decades ago. He saw the clock tower as a beacon of the community’s glorious past and bright future, the result of collaborative efforts between business groups and local government.
“I like the working combination between the BID and the chamber [of commerce] and the government,” he said. “It’s a vibrant corner, such an important part of Huntington Station. Seeing this clock tower and the landscaping here makes me so proud to come back here 40 years later.
Councilwoman Joan Cergol (D) remembered the BID as a small organization that was just getting started. She remembers walking the streets of Huntington Station in 2003 to encourage business leaders to join the BID. Nearly two decades later, a clock tower in the heart of Huntington Station marks a new chapter for the BID in its mission to beautify the area.
“This IDB has really done a lot of wonderful things,” she said. “It’s a wonderful gift, a gift we will all continue to enjoy for years to come.”
While Huntington is known for its historic and thriving village, public investment in Huntington Station has often lagged. The clock tower and the extension of the sewers indicate a change of course.
“The Huntington Station is one of many vital organs in our system,” said Jillian Guthman, the city’s tax collector. “It doesn’t matter if you’re on the south or north end of our city, Huntington Station is a place where you spend a lot of time. A clock like this truly matches the beauty of this community and reflects the investment that is so needed.
As with many towns in Suffolk County, expanding sewer infrastructure is a major priority for Huntington. According to Smyth, the impact of this sewer investment will be felt for decades.
“The clock is useful, but it’s also symbolic,” Smyth said. “[The sewer extension] is the next big step. It will be a generational investment in Huntington Station.
According to Ferro, policymakers and private developers need to be proactive. As the sewer expansion project kicks off, he said the community needs to prepare for higher levels of activity.
“Huntington Station is open for business,” he said. “We have a sewer line coming up and that means plans have to be thought out now for tomorrow.”
As this community awaits the arrival of its sewer extension, you could say the clock is ticking.