Without a doubt, 2014 left gigantic footprints on the Huntington Township!
We've compiled 10 stories from 2014 that we believe had the largest impacts on our community as a whole. Whether uplifting, tragic, or a combination of the two, all 10 of these major happenings created massive ripples, with some even leading to bold reforms, new legislation, extensive renovations, and more.
Read on to see which 10 stories we thought were the biggest of 2014.
(1) Owner Of Oheka Castle Shot, Search For His Shooter Continues
Police are still searching for the person who shot Gary Melius, owner of Oheka Castle, on Feb. 24.
Who shot Gary Melius? The jury is still out on this one.
Gary Melius, the owner of Oheka Castle, was shot in the head Feb. 24 while seated in his Mercedes-Benz in the castle's parking lot by a masked gunman of an unknown gender. Police said the bullet passed through Melius' temple but did not strike his skull, likely sparing him of critical injuries.
While Melius was released Mar. 4 from the hospital, police have said little about the case during the year. As of this week, a police spokesperson said there was still no update on the case - and wouldn't be until Melius' assailant is in handcuffs, causing this 2014 mystery to remain open for now.
(2) Fatal Accident at Legal Sea Foods Leads To Stricter CO Laws
Steven Nelson, 55, pictured above, died tragically on Feb. 22 after a carbon monoxide leak at Legal Sea Foods in Huntington Station.
In February 2014, a carbon monoxide leak at Legal Sea Foods in Huntington Station left one dead and sparked an onslaught of legislation to prevent future accidents.
Steve Nelson, a 55-year old general manager at Legal Sea Foods, died after a faulty flue pipe caused a massive carbon monoxide leak in the restaurant's basement. All buildings in the immediate vicinity were evacuated, and nearly 30 were hospitalized for carbon monoxide-related injuries.
The incident led to increased legislation from many parties, including laws that were passe by the Town of Huntington, Northport Village Board, state and changes from the Legal Sea Foods chain itself to ensure the safety of all moving forward.
(3) Devastating Blazes Burn The Town
Fires destroyed several Town of Huntington commercial buildings in 2014, including one on Main Street (left), and another on New York Avenue (above).
A series of spectacularly destructive fires wracked the Huntington Township in 2014, cutting a swath of destruction and heartache at every turn.
One major blaze in East Northport on Jan. 3 displaced five apartments and several businesses. On Mar. 1, another blaze gutted a New York Avenue building strip that housed apartments and businesses such as Red and Fad. A May 14 fire engulfed the building that used to house Lemon Tree and Osaka Japanese Restaurant, while another hit three days later, on May 17, at Black & Blue Seafood Chophouse. And the list goes on, even beyond these examples.
Since their respective fires, the businesses affected have largely worked to recover and rebuild. Red and Black & Blue have since reopened in their original locations, while Osaka has opened in its new Wall Street location. Others relocated, showing that the fires would not keep them from thriving in Huntington.
(4) 3 Housing Battles End, 1 New Battle Emerges
Supporters and opponents of The Seasons at Elwood entered the home stretch of a pitched battle over the project in 2014. The town board approved a zone change in August.
2014 was the year where three contentious battles over housing came to a close, but a fourth also came to head and ended up in court.
In terms of the battles that came to a close, the nearly 13-year legal battle over affordable housing tied to The Greens at Half Hollow ended with the building of a 117-home, limited-equity, and co-op community known as Highland Green Residences. Additionally, 379 rental buildings were constructed for AvalonBay Communities’ Huntington Station development, while 261 affordable homes were constructed to create The Club at Melville for senior citizens.
The Seasons at Elwood, a 256-unit age-restricted senior community on Elwood Road, was approved but challenged in court, with a lawsuit that remains pending.
(5) Greenlawn Boxer Chris Algieri Has His Biggest Year Yet
2014 was a big year for Greenlawn boxer Chris Algieri, who won the World Boxing Organization's junior welterweight title in June and fought Manny Pacquiao in November.
For Chris Algieri, a world-class boxer and Greenlawn native, 2014 was a year of immense learning, growing, and success.
His first of three matches during 2014 occurred at The Paramount on Feb. 14, where he defeated Emmanuel Taylor in a stunning show of skill. His second match was against one of the World Boxing Organization’s most promising champions, Ruslan Provodnikov. Algieri emerged victorious once again and claimed the WBO’s junior welterweight championship. And while Algieri ended up losing his third and final match of the year to Manny Pacquiao, he held his own and fought valiantly until the end.
Algieri is currently taking time off, waiting for his next fight to be determined, and training in the meanwhile as he soaks in all 2014 has taught him.
(6) Construction Closes Gerard Street Parking Lot For Almost 6 Months
Beginning in July and ending in December, the Gerard Street parking lot construction impacted many local individuals and businesses.
If you were in Huntington village at all during the second half of 2014, it was nearly impossible to miss the massive Gerard Street parking construction project, which began in mid-July and concluded in mid-December.
The end result is admirable – the cracked pavement has been resurfaced, spaces have been added, and a bioswale draining system has been installed. Despite this, the construction’s sudden start combined with its totality and length led to criticism from nearby business owners who were negatively impacted.
Other ways the Huntington village attempted to address its arguably perennial parking problem in 2014 was by experimenting with free valet parking on weekends and raising metered parking rates. Some success was achieved, but this parking problem will seem to persist into 2015.
(7) Violent Summer In Huntington Station Leads To Public Outcry
The murder of Maggie Rosales, for which suspect Adam Saalfield, above, has been arrested, led to outcries for increased safety in Huntington Station.
Huntington Station saw a violent summer in 2014. A June 28 stabbing left one Huntington Station resident fatally wounded on the ground. Another Station resident was found wounded on the front lawn of his home on July 5 and was later pronounced dead. And then, during the same month, a man was fatally shot outside of a Huntington Station residence.
It wasn't until the fall, however, that the murder of Walt Whitman High School student Maggie Rosales, 18, ignited a fiery community response. After a passionate march organized in Rosales’ honor and vocal outcry for safety improvements from the community, police presence in Huntington Station increased and the citizen vigilante group known as The Guardian Angels returned to also protect the Station from violence.
Changes to protect the well-being of all are ongoing and will continue into 2015 as well.
(8) Reality TV Hits Town Of Huntington
In July, The Artful Dodger in Huntington village was transformed into P's & Q's Autobody (left), and in August, Tim's Shipwreck Diner in Northport was renovated (above).
The Town of Huntington made its presence known in the realm of reality television in 2014, welcoming crews for the tapings of Spike TV’s “Bar Rescue” and Food Network’s “American Diner Revival.”
In terms of the former, “Bar Rescue” transformed decades-old Huntington village bar The Artful Dodger into P’s & Q’s Auto Body – a speakeasy-type bar hidden behind a rotating garage door on New Street, which has been achieved resounding success so far.
In terms of the latter, “American Diner Revival” completely renovated Tim’s Shipwreck Diner, updating the look and adding brand new appliances as well. Hundreds of volunteers from the Northport community aided in this effort, and owner Tim Hess was beyond thankful.
(9) Ice Bucket Challenge Makes Fundraising 'Cool'
Signature Premier Properties took the ice bucket challenge using a payloader's bucket, raising over $6,000 (left), while 132 Huntington Marching Band members took it the conventional way (above).
When the ice bucket challenge swept the nation this past August, the Huntington Township raised funds and awareness for the ALS Association in some gigantic ways!
Whether by calling out entire businesses, dousing entire marching bands or employing backhoes and dump trucks to complete the challenge, the tactics grew more elaborate and theatrical as the days went on – and that meant more money for the ALS Foundation, as the Huntington Township proved once again how it could come together to achieve truly incredible things.
(10) Thatched Cottage Owner Made Apparent Suicide Attempt
First responders (left) tend to Ralph Colamussi (above) after an apparent suicide attempt the day before the bankruptcy auction of his catering hall, the Thatched Cottage.
One day before the scheduled bankruptcy auction of his Centerport catering hall, former Thatched Cottage owner Ralph Colamussi was hospitalized following an apparent suicide attempt, sources confirmed.
On Sep. 23, police found Colamussi unconscious, but alive, in the back of a white work van parked in the municipal parking lot next to Thai USA restaurant. The interior of the van and Colamussi were both drenched in gasoline, and there were 10-12 additional containers in the back of the van. Colamussi was eventually released from the hospital, but officials said there could have been an enormous explosion in the lot if things had progressed differently.
The Thatched Cottage property sold on Sept. 24 for $4.65 million to Yama Raj, executive director of Bethpage catering hall The Sterling. He and his partners purchased the property with plans to open another catering hall as a separate entity.