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Concerned Citizens Civic Association Returns

After lying dormant for several years, the first meeting of the newly re-formed Concerned Citizens Civic Association of Farmingdale (CCAF) was held at Allen Park, and if the community turnout was any indication, it stands to be a force to be reckoned with in the near future.

The meeting drew a packed crowd of civic-minded local residents, and welcomed guest speakers including Farmingdale Mayor Ralph Ekstrand and several of his trustees, in addition to representatives of the Metro Transit Authority.

CCAF President James Battaglia, a Farmingdale resident, said that the evening’s meeting represented a resurrection of sorts for the group.

“The CCAF has been in existence for a while, but it’s been inactive for a few years,” he said. “With a number of issues facing the Village as of late, some of us have come together to represent the citizens of Farmingdale...hopefully we can help them address some of their issues and give them a voice as a group.”

CCAF Vice President Tina Diamond, well-known in the Farmingdale community for her exhaustive work in the Board of Education and PTA and a previous member of the CCAF, said that the time was right to begin the group anew after its long hiatus.

“We had trouble getting volunteers at the time, and people decided it was just time to take a break,” she said. “But when the CCAF went away, people started to realize that you need a voice in the community, and these people saw that need, and asked for it to come back.”

Once the meeting got underway, the first speaker, MTA Governments Relations Specialist Hector Garcia addressed a proposed Long Island Railroad (LIRR) double-track project to be located just east of Route 110 on Conklin Avenue.

“Between the Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma LIRR stations, we will be installing a double track...so, in case there is an accident or a train breaks down, another train will be available,” he said. “Construction will not start until sometime in next spring, and this will be a two-phase project...we have the funding for phase one, which is from Ronkonkoma to Central Islip, so any work in this area is at least two or three years away The full project will take about four years to complete.”

Garcia confirmed that all work would take place on LIRR property, ensuring that the homes of Farmingdale residents will not be impacted by any construction during the project.

In addition, Farmingdale Mayor Ralph Ekstrand gave several business-related updates concerning the Village, including the current status of the long-empty Waldbaum’s building located on Main Street; according to Ekstrand, it’s likely the property will remain abandoned for quite some time.

“Waldbaum’s is officially a Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Superfund site...testing has been done, and they have approximately five years of ground water contamination to clean up,” he said. “The owners of the property couldn’t afford to play taxes after Waldbaum’s left, so it is in receivership and currently has not been sold. And according to the DEC, if anyone buys that site, they will also have to pay for its clean up. Who would buy that property if they have to pay for five years of pollution?”

Ekstrand also spoke on the proposed Bartone Plaza to be built on north Main Street, which he said had been held up due to issues relation to asbestos removal.

“They finally got all the required permits, so asbestos abatement will take place the first week in October,” he said. “After that is done, then they can start on tearing down the building. Once completed, the new structure will house 115 rental apartments and across the street will be an additional 39 rental units. In addition, there will be 18,000 square feet of retail, and while I can’t name names yet, I’ve already taken some large franchise retailers who want to move in there on tours of the village.”

Another building project Ekstrand touched upon was the plans to demolish and reconstruct the building located at 231 Main Street, converting it into apartment housing with limited retail space.

“This development has been approved already,” he said. “We expect to see a wrecking ball there by the end of October.”

The next meeting of the Concerned Citizens Civic Association of Farmingdale will be announced when it has been officially scheduled.