Thursday night’s meeting about a proposed CVS where La Grange currently sits had familiar themes from a similar meeting about the future of the property held five years ago.
This time, however, the number of residents in attendance was about 70, not the several hundred that packed La Grange in March 2008 when a proposal to construct a Walgreens on the property was unveiled.
During a meeting of the West Islip Association (WIA) Thursday, plans for a CVS were shown to local residents and many in the audience at the Public Library expressed their displeasure over the project.
Many of the concerns focused on CVS’ desire to be open 24 hours and possibly have a prescription drive-thru at the rear of the store that would also be open around the clock. Also, some expressed worry over increased traffic and what route large delivery trucks would use to get to and from the store.
The CVS plans shown at the meeting are similar to the 2008 Walgreens proposal that was shouted down by many local residents.
CVS would deconstruct the current LaGrange and move the original structure to the northeast side of the property closer to Higbie Lane.
“CVS is willing to spend $500,000 to move La Grange,” said Joseph DeCarlo, president of the West Islip Association. “But they can also knock it down if they choose.”
The 15,943-square foot drug store would be constructed on the west side of the property and would include 123 parking spots, which meet Islip Town requirements. In addition, the rear of the property would also include a 25-foot buffer as well.
While most sitting in the small group of residents were opposed to CVS putting a store where La Grange now sits, DeCarlo cautioned that there are currently no other options for redeveloping the parcel that sits on the corner of Higbie Lane and Montauk Highway.
“This is the best thing since the Walgreens proposal back in 2008,” he said.
DeCarlo noted in the five years since Walgreens was rejected, several “major” restaurant owners and even a culinary school have looked at the property. But none were interested in spending the money necessary to redevelop a building they did not own.
Over the past five years, the only group to give La Grange a shot was in 2010 when three men reopened the venerable restaurant with the goal of operating it largely as a catering facility. After making an investment believed to be about $1 million to refurbish the building, the new operators went out of business after only six months.
While the WIA shared initial CVS plans with the community, the proposal appears to be far from a done deal. A traffic study needs to be completed and it is unclear when Islip Town officials will be voting on the project.