Rising and beyond
For years, Wyandanch had the inauspicious title of the most economically distressed community on Long Island (according to the Suffolk County Planning Department). But in the early 2000s, community leaders banded together to find a cure for the area’s entrenched social problems by crafting a plan for a vibrant city-style, high-density downtown where none had existed before.
In 2003, Sustainable Long Island facilitated a community-based planning event called “Wyandanch Rising,” for the hamlet of Wyandanch, in partnership with the Town of Babylon and Wyandanch Weed & Seed. Wyandanch Rising initially brought together hundreds of homeowners, renters, business and property owners, civic groups, clergy, planners, architects, and government officials to develop a vision plan that would soon become a regional trend—a pedestrian-friendly community where people can live in multistory buildings – within close proximity to goods, services, and activities – not needing cars for everyday transportation.
A year later, the Town of Babylon adopted the Wyandanch vision plan and immediately began moving forward with implementation efforts. Goals set forth by the vision plan included a family-style restaurant, bicycle lanes, on-street parking, wider and better-lit sidewalks, safer crosswalks, mixed-use buildings, and community clean-up initiatives. Longer-term goals included the development of civic groups, public art, community festivals, and the beautification of building facades. From thousands of dollars invested by the Town of Babylon for community planning, tens of millions of dollars have resulted for infrastructure improvements.
To sustain the momentum of long-term revitalization efforts throughout the years, it was essential that the entire community remain engaged. Sustainable Long Island consistently conducted targeted outreach to the Wyandanch community with emphasis on reviewing progress, identifying achievements and discussing opportunities and strategies for the ongoing implementation of the Wyandanch Rising Visioning Project.
We’ve pushed for the United States Postal Service to rethink their plans for a Wyandanch post office with barbed wire and bullet-proof glass—setting the wrong tone for the community— which successfully resulted in a beautiful, prosperous post office on Straight Path. We’ve assisted the Town of Babylon on the New York State Brownfield Opportunity Area Program focusing on the study areas within the neighborhood. We’ve advocated for the extension of sewer systems into the hamlet and spearheaded local business initiatives to create future economic development. We’ve also partnered with the Wyandanch Community Development Corporation to launch a youth-staffed farmers’ market currently located at the New Shiloh Baptist Church, but soon to be moved into the heart of the downtown developments.
Today, the Wyandanch Rising project has become a $500 million overhaul centered around the idea of Transit-Oriented Development, which provides the opportunity to increase transportation choices and access, enhances mobility for all community members, and creates a compact mixed-use neighborhood.
In what is known as Wyandanch Village, ground has been broken on a pair of five-story mixed-use buildings that will feature apartments in the upper stories and retail space below. Together, they will contain 177 apartments, from studios to three bedrooms—123 are reserved for lower income levels. The ground-floor commercial spaces will be no larger than 5,000 square feet each to discourage big-box stores. Wyandanch Village will include a public park between the two residential buildings, which can also host concerts in the summer and an ice rink in the winter. In the future, the downtown is set to gain a three-story, 90,000-square-foot office building, whose 25,000-square-foot ground-level berth is being eyed for a grocery store. Later phases for the rest of the 40-acre Wyandanch Rising site call for additional stores and multifamily housing, as well as a youth center down the road. In addition, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has agreed to build a 1,000-car parking garage in the area and move an existing LIRR station building east to make room for additional development. Sustainable Long Island looks forward to ongoing improvements and our continued work with the community of Wyandanch.
Wyandanch Vision Plan