Decades of debate have ended and a 24-acre parcel of land just south of the busy intersection where Route 25A and Echo Avenue flow together in Mount Sinai is now being cleared for the construction of a Bristal Assisted Living facility.
The property also skirts the southern edge of Village Drive North, the entryway into The Ranches condominium complex.
Construction is expected to take 18 to 24 months.
Representatives from the Mount Sinai Civic Association said in a statement that the organization approves of the plan, and is pleased that the development is finally underway.
The civic’s statement mentions that the community has seen multiple proposals for the project over the years.
“The development is part of a 1999 legal stipulation which resulted from a lawsuit filed against the Town by the Civic on this parcel, and has always been designated for this purpose,” the Mount Sinai Civic Association statement reads
Plans call for two sections: 220 units of independent, senior housing and a 120-bed assisted living facility.
The independent living component is age-restricted (55 and over) and will feature a 9,000-square-foot clubhouse for resident use. The clubhouse will include a movie theater, card room, bingo room, outdoor pool, living room and gym.
Units will come in various sizes, from studio up to 2-bedrooms. Rents will range from $2,500 to $5,000 per month.
The assisted living facility will be completely self-contained, with a hair salon and activities for residents. It will also include some beds for a dementia unit.
An aging population on Long Island and across the nation has created a robust demand for assisted living facilities. According to the National Center for Assisted Living, there are about 28,900 assisted living communities in the United States. Out of the 800,000 Americans in assisted living many are age 85 and older.
A calculator on the Genworth Financial website estimates that the cost in the New York area for an assisted living facility will be $6,093 per month in 2019.
Despite assurances that the complex will have minimal traffic impact, some residents expressed concerns and lament over the development of yet another open piece of land in the area.
“Many are upset with this land being disrupted,” said Connie Anne Bayer, in a response to a Facebook community page post by GreaterLongIsland.com looking for comment. “It’s sad how the farmland and woods are becoming less and less around here.”
Bayer recognized the need for housing for the elderly on Long Island but said she isn’t sure about the location.
“That part of 25a is already congested enough, especially in morning and evening,” she said.
Brian Stoma worries about congestion getting worse.
“That area is going to be a nightmare with traffic, which it already is,” he said. “Go sit at Sunoco for an hour during rush hour. You will see what kind of nightmare it is.”
Others worried that development is shattering the overall character of the area.
“It was the most beautiful place to live before they started building in every hole they could find,” said Valerie Pacinello Avignone. “I miss driving down my block and seeing the farms… We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.”
Wayne Van Middelem noted that the project will “create a fair amount of jobs.” But he also misses the days when Davis Peach Farm dominated the area.
“Mount Sinai is a lot different than it used to be,” he said.
Scroll down for more construction site photos from Lon Cohen.