Many of us who live in the Northport area have been here virtually our entire lives, especially those who are baby boomers. My earliest memories with my family are of us driving from Queens to scout various locations on Long Island for the American Dream. Several of my parents’ friends had already settled in Massapequa, Levittown, and East Northport. The model home on Larkfield Road that my mother fell in love with became our future neighborhood. The development was called Gaylore Gardens. We spent many Saturdays driving east on Northern State Parkway, getting off at exit 42N to check the progress of our future home.
On August 1st, 1959 we borrowed a station wagon and moved into our brand new home at 10 Abby Drive. It was exciting, frightening, and an adventure. Our neighbors became our family of friends, we had parties in the street, babies were born in quantity, trees were planted and Mario Abatelli got the first riding mower on the block. The LIRR commuter train in Northport would eventually become the means of travel for my father to his job on 34th Street in Manhattan. As schools were built, and more people moved in, we welcomed them with open arms. Our childhood memories are solidly intact and we talk often about the idyllic experiences we shared.
Where am I going with this? Many of the same residents who made this community what it is today and still reside here, are looking to downsize and simplify their lives. We are living longer, healthier lives. We are not our grandparents generation. The planned development, The Seasons at Elwood for residents 55+ is proposed for the Elwood community. The property is located on Elwood Road, currently the site of Oak Tree Dairy and is adjacent to the high school and middle school in the Elwood District. There is serious opposition to this plan yet anyone I have spoken to about this sees the need for intelligent and creative community design.
I have not attended any of the meetings that have been held only because I didn’t know about this proposal until my mother showed me a letter she received from the builder. And yes, my mother at 83, still resides at 10 Abby Drive living independently but becoming somewhat overwhelmed by the ½ acre property and a house that at almost 54 years of age needs tending. She loves that house-worries about it and has often stated she wants to die there. However, the idea of a community in her beloved neighborhood that would free her from the maintenance and isolation she often feels is very appealing to her. Ditto! Many of my friends feel the same way. The town we live in has little or no transition housing for those of us who need it. Is this because we suffer from “The not in my backyard syndrome”?
I am not equipped to discuss the issues of traffic, congestion, school burden, etc. at this time. But I urge you to consider the idea of keeping our seniors and young adults in the community that they love but can no longer afford. This may not be the ideal location for such a planned community but we seem to have a knee jerk reaction to any thought of developing dense housing communities; however we consistently build these huge cement warehouse buildings, endless strip malls, and have four pharmacies on Larkfield Road within ¾ of a mile of each other. Have you seen the size of the new Larkfield Manor? Talk about traffic!
There is much research available on the health of a community based on the dispersion of life stages. These planned communities have been in existence in Europe and other parts of the United States for decades. We are lagging and losing our precious resources-youth and wisdom. What an asset the residents would be to the neighboring schools. So many exciting projects could be designed to give the children and the seniors a sense of connection to their history and generativity. This dialogue needs to continue and I welcome input from those who support and oppose this plan. There are enough creative, forward thinking people in this community. It is time to see this through a new lens. Let’s do it!