Residents against the proposed construction of an apartment complex on Bayview Avenue in East Islip packed out the hamlet’s American Legion building last week.
Nearly a hundred people filled the seats and lined the walls of the space — some even stood in the lobby of the building while event organizers discussed a proposal that has galvanized a community.
Greenview Properties Inc. of Bay Shore recently purchased two homes on the street, at 7 and 9 Bayview Ave., and is looking to tear down the houses to build a five-building apartment complex for people ages 55 and over.
These apartments would include approximately 29 units and 59 parking spaces. Three units of the 29 will be set aside for affordable housing.
The builder is requesting of the town to rezone the parcels from Residential A to Residential C for the high-occupancy residence.
The community meeting was organized by five members of Citizens Against Bayview Ave. Apartments Inc.
This included Dana Ehlich, president of the East Islip Beautification Society and Pat Blair, president of For The Kids Foundation (FTK) of East Islip Inc., who were both key speakers at the meeting.
“I love it here, I love raising my children here,” Blair said. “I can’t think of a better place I want to live and I can’t think of a worse place to put some apartments.”
The main concerns discussed at the meeting included the apartments bringing an increase in traffic, the safety of children living in the area, the historical significance of the two homes, and the negative impact the project could have on the environment.
“I can’t get out of my block most days, and the last thing we need is high-density housing in our neighborhood,” Ehlich said. “Our quality of life is already being destroyed, and it’s only going to get worse.”
The organizers informed residents on how they can show opposition to the project. Blair emphasized the importance of residents writing letters to each of the Town Board members individually.
“A phone call is great, an email is great, a letter is better than great,” Blair said.
Blair said the group is asking for donations from the community, and is selling protests signs to raise money to hire their own attorney and traffic engineer to further examine the proposal.
The Citizens Against Bayview Ave. Apartments are also pushing for a traffic impact study to be done during the summer, Ehlich said.
Ehlich spoke about a recent proposal for a cell tower at the end of Bayview Avenue. Ehlich explained to attendees that the builder may “walk away” from the apartment project if the cell tower is approved.
This cell tower project would also financially support the veterans and keep the almost 70-year-old American Legion open.
“It may put a devastating issue for the builder where he won’t be able to build that many units,” Ehlich said. “It might be better to have a cell tower in your backyard than 29 apartments.”
Frank Frumento, Post Commander of the American Legion of East Islip, said there was an offer from the builder to purchase the property, but he and the other members of the Legion turned it down.
“It’s not in the best interest of East Islip for us to sell, and that’s what we care about,” Frumento said. “
Kelly Carson, a Bayview resident and one of the five members of the Citizens Against Bayview Ave. Apartments Inc. said she lives within 200 feet of the property for the apartments and she was one of the first people to receive a letter about the proposed project.
“It’s a bit of dirty business and it’s not fair to the residents who live here,” Carson said.
Christina Garvano, who has lived on Bayview Ave. for 47 years, said she’s been “very distressed” about the proposed complex.
“It affects me dearly because it’s my backyard,” Garvano said.
No representative of Greenview Properties made him or herself available for comment to GreaterBayShore on the matter.
The next Town Islip planning board meeting is scheduled for March 4. Community members have created a website with more information on the issue and there is a petition with approximately 2,250 signatures.
“They are making us look more like Queens,” Ehlich said. “To come down our residential streets and start doing this —we have to make a stand.”
Follow GreaterBayShore for more reporting on Bayview Ave. and the proposed apartments.