By Suffolk County Legislator Tom Barraga
Many years ago, as some of the elders of Bay Shore will tell you, there existed a beautiful small lake on the north side of main street called Kelly's Lake. It was a small lake in which hundreds of residents enjoyed what it had to offer in the summer and the winter. The beauty of the lake in the summer and its use for ice skating and winter sports in the winter. Then one day the residents of Bay Shore were shocked to see that Kelly's Lake was completely filled in. Their beloved lake was gone forever and all they were left with were their memories and a Ford dealership built where the lake once stood. Kelly's Lake was part of the core, the essence of Bay Shore and it was lost. As with most things of beauty when they are destroyed it is because of the greed and narrow mindedness of the selfish few. The historic La Grange Inn is part of the soul of West Islip and must not be lost to greed and an unwanted and unneeded Walgreen Pharmacy at the site.
The historic La Grange Inn is to the residents of West Islip, what Argyle Lake is to the residents of Babylon, or the Concourse is to the residents of Brightwaters, or the Smithtown Bull is to the residents of Smithtown. What would the citizens of those towns do if they were made aware that a portion of Argyle Lake in Babylon would be filled in to make room for a Walgreen Pharmacy; that the Concourse in Brightwaters would be reduced in size to make room for a Walgreen Pharmacy; that right next to the Smithtown Bull there would be constructed a Walgreen Pharmacy, open 24 hours per day, seven days a week. If these examples are just unimaginable then why would there be any credibility to an equally preposterous scenario calling for the construction of a Walgreen Pharmacy right next to the historic La Grange Inn.
Unlike the other communities I have mentioned, West Islip does not have a central downtown main street area. Our community has always been split from a retail perspective, with stores on Higbie Lane, Union Boulevard and Montauk Highway. The one central edifice the entire hamlet of West Islip has is the historic La Grange Inn. It is our unifying identity and the site must not be downgraded to a shell of its former self standing in the gray shadows of a huge unsightly, unnecessary Walgreen Pharmacy built by the selfish and greedy few at the expense of the many.
The 30,000 residents of West Islip overwhelmingly do not want or need a Walgreen Pharmacy on the grounds of the historic La Grange Inn. We will not allow the La Grange Inn to suffer the same fate as Kelly's Lake.
These images illustrate the changes