By Connor Beach
The Town of Huntington unveiled concept plans for a $10 million project to transform the former New York State Armory in Huntington Station into a community center named after the late State Assemblyman James Conte.
Conte’s family, friends and colleagues gathered at the armory on the Saturday after Thanksgiving to view the plans for the community center and remember Conte’s dedication to Huntington Station.
“We’ve been waiting for this opportunity for a long time,” Supervisor Frank Petrone said. “Many of you know that Jimmy worked very hard to retain this facility for the residents of the Town of Huntington.”
A lifelong resident of Huntington, Conte was elected to the State Assembly in 1988, serving his Huntington Station district as a Republican for 24 years. Conte achieved the position of minority leader pro tem, the second highest post for Republicans in the assembly.
As a two-time kidney transplant recipient, Conte advocated at the state level for organ donation. He died in October 2012 after a battle with T-cell lymphoma.
While serving in the state legislature, Conte made it a priority to ensure the New York State Armory at 100 East 5th Ave. in Huntington Station was transferred to the town for use as a community center. The title to the 1950s-era armory was ultimately transferred to the town by the state in May 2013.
The $10 million plan to transform it was designed and engineered by the Bohemia-based engineering firm Savik & Murray. Plans call for the 22,500-square-foot building to be developed to include an all-purpose gym, basketball court, elevated indoor track, rock-climbing wall and exercise area. Also planned are classrooms, office space and space for the Greenlawn American Legion Post 1244 to operate a veteran’s canteen.
Funding for the $3.75-million first phase of the project were approved by the town board in the 2018 budget, and the town was granted $1.5 million from the state for the project as well.
Representatives from the town said the hope is to have the community center completed sometime in 2019.
Supervisor-elect Chad Lupinacci, who took over Conte’s seat in the assembly, said that the community center will help carry on his predecessor's legacy.
“Jim was a mentor and a very close friend of mine,” Lupinacci said. “We know that even though he is gone, his legacy will continue through the many generations of children that are going to walk through this building.”
Conte’s wife, Debra, son, Jeffrey, and daughters, Samantha and Sarah, were also on scene for the unveiling of the plans.
Sarah Conte said, “This is exactly what my father would have wanted for this community.”