Senior LGBT housing approved
Artist rendering of the newly approved apartment complex.

Photos provided

Senior LGBT housing approved

Story By: RICK CHALIFOUX
10/5/2017


BAY SHORE—At last week’s Islip Town change of zone meeting, the board unanimously approved an application by Bay Park Holdings, LLC seeking a zoning change from Business District to Downtown Development District (DDD) in order to construct a new senior affordable housing development that will double as an LGBT community center on the northwest corner of Park Avenue and Mechanicsville Road (28, 32 and 24 Park Avenue). 

The Bay Shore-based Long Island LGBT Network’s proposed Senior Citizen Affordable Housing Project is the first of its kind in not just Long Island, but the entire tri-state area. It will consist of 75 units (71 one-bedroom and four two-bedroom) next to the organization’s current community center on the northwest corner of Park Avenue and Community Road near the LIRR station. In addition, an all-new 8,000-square-foot LGBT Center will be constructed adjacent to the complex in order to continue to provide its wide-ranging services to both its residents and other seniors throughout the surrounding region.

Currently, there are a total of 20 other affordable housing developments catering to LGBT older adults in the United States that have either been announced or built already. The new $30 million facility will be located in a four-story building with apartments designated towards tenants making up to 80 percent of the area median income ($35,000 to $85,000 annually). Rent is expected to range from $1,000 to $1,600. 

The LGBT Network has been centered in Bay Shore for a total of 25 years, with the first 10 on Main Street and the last 15 at its current location on Park Avenue.

Dr. David Kilmnick – president and chief executive officer of the New York and Long Island LGBT Network – said that the new community center’s hours of operation would primarily change to the daytime hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with three to four full-time staff members conducting a range of senior community services. Meanwhile, the organization’s current main headquarters on Park Avenue is slated to move to Patchogue. 

“The facility will be open to the entire community,” said Kilmnick. “Out of the thousands that come to our facility in Bay Shore now, 40 percent identify as non-gay. So we’ve always been an open and welcoming place to the entire town, where families and children and seniors have been able to utilize what we offer.

“[This development] is going to be beautiful and take care of some of the blighted properties that exist there,” said Kilmnick. “Our neighbors across the street are very supportive. There have been some problems over the years with those vacant properties, including drug dealing and prostitution, and this will eliminate them.”

Kilmnick also referenced statistics indicating a disproportionately greater number of older adults on Long Island, with both Nassau and Suffolk counties posting higher median ages than New York State and the country as a whole, according to a recent U.S. Census Bureau population estimate. In addition, the Long Island index has stated that the 55-plus population is growing by more than 2 percent each year – more than six times the overall rate of population growth.

“Combine these factors with an already disproportionate number of older adults on Long Island – a lot of them with lower incomes – [along with] scarce affordable housing, and we have a crisis on our hands,” said Kilmnick. “This project is a step in the right direction to address this crisis we have on Long Island.”

Bay Shore-Brightwaters Summit Council president Mary Louise Cohen also spoke out in favor of the application.

“This is an area that is dilapidated, and to see senior housing going in there along with a recreational community center for the LGBT community is going to be a wonderful asset,” said Cohen. “I am proud that a place like Bay Shore that I chose to make my home was the place for the first LGBT Center on Long Island. We’re a welcoming, supportive community, and I hope we continue to be. It’s also great to have another place for seniors to live because we have too few of those.”

Another supporter of the project is Donna Periconi, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Bay Shore, who publicly spoke back in August prior to the planning board’s vote of recommendation.

One of the board’s chief questions was whether or not the application would provide sufficient parking for its tenants. The proposal included 78 on-site parking spaces along with seven additional spots to be installed along Mechanicsville Road. 

Officials representing the applicant expressed confidence that the allotted parking would be more than sufficient. Town Planner Sean Colgan said that if there arose a need for overflow parking, drivers would have to utilize municipal parking. Colgan also stated that residents of the complex would not be exempt from paying fees in any downtown areas that are part of the town’s paid meter program.

The next Islip Town change of zone meeting will take place on Thursday, Nov. 16 at 6 p.m.