Blogger: Contemplating Transportation in Hauppauge

To build sidewalk or not to build sidewalk, that is the question.

Too often, because of my education in urban planning, Hauppauge is the focus of my planning fantasies.

At times, I see the potential incorporation of Suffolk County's first city due to the confluence of residential, industrial and commercial uses being straddled between two separate towns. At times, envisioning a hub of new bus rapid transit routes along 454, 347, and 111, making public transit in Suffolk clean, efficient, and appealing - very much a different creature than what it is presently. I recognize that these events may only be the product of the most distant of futures.

Small improvements can still be made which would make our community a more appealing, greener and healthier place in a reasonable time period. The saga of the Smithtown school district's busing referendum is revealing about the fabric of our community, as well as Smithtown's.

The retraction of busing became a discussion dominated by claims of compromising student safety and suspicions that teachers were failing to yield enough concessions. Few people used the retraction of busing as an opportunity to question why it was unsafe in their community for a high school student to spend 20 minutes walking to school, or 10 minutes for an elementary school student.

It should not be hazardous to walk in Hauppauge. Our community should never have come to the point where it became hazardous to walk from our homes to the post office, bagel shop, supermarket, bank or Branchinelli's at will. Many who read this may initially rebel at the notion, because we only know the Hauppauge of the present or past 30 years - bisected by major highways at high speed where only the occasional eccentric or unfortunate individual has to walk or bicycle. Pleasant walking environments are reserved for cute downtowns like Babylon, Huntington or Port Jeff. Hauppauge is purely business, you may say, and business means automobile traffic.

I say that the casual observer I just described is wrong. Our community is unique amongst suburban locales, in that when taken as a whole, it is geographically centered on the intersection of Townline Road and Route 111 (Our hamlet center). The post office, library, bagel shop, hardware store, supermarket, pizza place and scores of other shops are none too far from this intersection. To boot, some 1,000 households are within one mile or a 15-minute walk of this intersection in Hauppauge.

So I say, that when you're able to move one of us from driving to walking or cycling regularly within town, you move a portion of our expenses from filling up our gas tank to filling up our own tanks with food and drink our local restaurants and supermarkets are happy to provide. There is no reason why the traditional, "downtown" communities should remain the only one's with pleasant public spaces and walkable commercials areas.

There are basic barriers to enjoying our hamlet center as pedestrians. Sidewalk construction in our area is linked to development of land, a practice which is thankfully not reflected in the construction of our roads (As it would likely mean that roadways in front of undeveloped property would be made of dirt). In terms of sidewalks, this means that unusable parcels such as the small piece of land immediately North of the western split of Route 111 and Townline are unlikely to acquire sidewalks except as part of a wider roadway reconstruction effort, whenever the town, county, or state deems it feasible.

Hence, we Hauppauguians are left with an incomplete network of sidewalks, lack of pedestrian signals and crosswalks at intersections which all contribute to deterring us from using our own two legs and giving our community the vibrancy of seeing people out on the street, bumping into people at random, or granting us a small and enjoyable portion of independence from our automobiles. I know that, at present, Hauppauge is a wonderful, albeit sequestered community.

All of that wonder occurs within the many bubbles of our lives, whether they be our homes, cars, workplaces or classrooms. There is truly limited space where our community reveals a public version of itself in as random and free a forum as the sidewalk in front of Starbucks, and I would like to challenge us to think about what our community could be if we moved toward enriching our public spaces. Thank you for this opportunity Hauppauge.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Jonathan Vecchi September 26, 2011 at 10:46 PM
Hauppauge seems to have been very content with driving everywhere. However, I have recently though about how much roadway there is throughout Hauppauge. I understand that it is a hub, with Northern State opening through, but it certainly does not breed a pedestrian atmosphere. I remember on occasion seeing people bike riding or walking through town or even on my block and thinking, "How odd is that?" You really don't see too many people out and about on the streets of Hauppauge. There are problems with reconstruction in Hauppauge. I fear that making things more enjoyable for pedestrians would just be horrible for traffic for that period of time. Plus, the amount of time it takes for plans to come to fruition. A few years ago, I read an article about a great plan that Smithtown approved to beautify Main Street. While there has been some improvements (i.e. the new sidewalk areas and fence) it is nothing near the grandeur I saw on paper. I truly hope that many long island towns start doing things to get people out of their cars any enjoy themselves - for that now, I have to drive to Historic Stony Brook
George September 27, 2011 at 08:08 PM
I love this topic. I think it will take more than just building side walks to create a lively pedestrian atmosphere in Hauppauge. If Hauppauge designated a down town district, which had a higher density of shops instead of endless street front parking lots, it would be a more enticing 'walk to' destination. The bones are already there...
lavender October 02, 2011 at 07:08 AM
Great Topic, I love Hauppauge when I first moved here. But it's gotten so very congested with cars. It be NICE to see people out and about . May be some real Life in Hauppauge. You go to other towns there Main Street in beautiful and it's nice see people walking about. Though Hauppauge could differently USE a FACE LIFT. I know the KIDS of Hauppauge would Love to walk and aspeically ride there bick about there Community But there are NO sidewalks,just too get a slice of pizza or run er-en for MOM. Well it would be Nice for Hauppauge to have a little more Classy LOOK..........
George October 03, 2011 at 07:40 PM
Hauppauge, a sanctuary city?
Kathleen O'Sullivan October 30, 2011 at 03:29 PM
This lIttle hamlet of Hauppauge needs a center, walkways and bikepaths. I have lived here for thirty-eight years and the only safe wayof getting from one place to another is by car. In this age of staying fit and healthy it seems the only place a resident can go is to a gym . I would safely like to walk and ride my bike. I have walked and ridden my bike many times in NYC. If you can do it there,why can we do it here? WE PAY ENOUGH TAXES SO WHY CAN NOT THIS AREA BE MORE PEOPLE FRIENDLY.


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