LIE Welcome Center Builds on Taste NY's Past Success With More Than $4.5 Million in Sales Through 2015; State Sets Ambitious Goal to Reach $9 Million in Revenue By End of 2016
New Facility at LIE Exit 51-52 Eastbound Promotes Locally Grown, NY-Made Products and Supports Regional Tourism
Renderings of the Welcome Center Are Available Here, Here, Here And Here
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that construction on the brand-new Taste NY Long Island Welcome Center in Huntington, New York is officially underway. The new facility will convert a formerly underused parking area along the Long Island Expressway into a state-of-the-art Welcome Center, featuring some of New York’s best locally made and produced food and beverage products. The facility, located in Suffolk County, will be LEED certified and span approximately 15,200 square feet.
"Tourism is a vital part of the Long Island economy and with this new Welcome Center that includes the state's largest Taste NY, we are helping to support this industry by showcasing the very best this region has to offer," Governor Cuomo said. "I'm proud to see this long-talked about project become a reality and look forward to seeing it completed."
The Welcome Center, located off the Long Island Expressway at Exit 51-52 Eastbound, will showcase information on Long Island’s tourism assets and include a new Taste NY component. The Taste NY location will provide an opportunity to connect New York's residents and visitors to the state’s diverse food and beverage producers. The store also builds on the Governor’s commitment to grow the Taste NY initiative through the addition of concession partnerships, special events, and additional stores statewide.
Last year, the Governor announced that Taste NY had tripled the gross sales of participating producers from approximately $1.5 million in 2014 to more than $4.5 million in 2015. This year, Governor Cuomo set a goal to double the gross revenue to $9 million by the end of 2016 through the addition of four new stores, the launch of new partnerships at sports and entertainment venues, and the opening of new locations within the New York State Park system.
In May, the Governor cut the ribbon on the new State Parks renovation project at Jones Beach, which included a Taste NY Café, and announced a Taste NY Bar at the Nikon at Jones Beach Theater. New York food and beverage products from a wide variety of producers are now available at more than three dozen stores, concessions, bars, and cafés across the state, and featured at more than 46 events annually.
New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Matthew J. Driscoll said, "Under Governor Cuomo’s direction we’re transforming an inadequate parking area into a safe place to refresh, while also promoting the unique products the region has to offer."
State Agriculture Commissioner, Richard A. Ball said, "The Taste NY initiative is invaluable to many agricultural producers in New York who contribute billions of dollars to the state’s economy each year. By putting their products at the fingertips of millions of consumers, they have the opportunity to connect with countless new markets and not only grow their own businesses, but also drive the entire industry forward. Taste NY participants have already seen tremendous growth and through Governor Cuomo's continued investment in the program, that success will continue. We look forward to the completion of this exciting new project."
Following a series of stakeholders meetings, an agreement was reached between the Department of Transportation and the neighboring Dix Hills community to allow construction on a 15,200 square foot LEED certified building. An unstriped parking area without restrooms will be replaced with lighted parking for 135 automobiles and restroom facilities for up to 30 people. The center will greatly enhance security with 24/7 video monitoring by staff at NYSDOT's nearby Traffic Management Center. Additionally, the New York State Police and the Suffolk County Police Department will be present at the Welcome Center to address security concerns.
Assemblyman Andrew Raia said, "I would like to thank Governor Cuomo and the NYS DOT for working with the Dix Hills Community to reach a compromise which, while not perfect, accomplishes the long standing goal of removing over 50 polluting diesel trucks from both sides of the LIW Service Road. As you know, I have been involved in this issue for well over 16 years and have personally seen how these trucks have been jeopardizing the health, safety and quality of life for many of the local residents."
Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci said, "I am pleased to see that this new Welcome Center will improve the expressway's safety by finding a new location for trucks and buses. Moreover, this new Welcome Center will not only grow the economy by building on the success of the Taste NY program, but the way the community was engaged during the development of this facility was commendable. I want to thank the Governor for including the community in this process and all he has done to make this project a reality."
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said, "This new Welcome Center is the perfect way to welcome visitors to Long Island. Not only will it will boost tourism by featuring a wide variety of Taste NY products for travelers to enjoy, but it will help generate further economic growth and create jobs. All of Long Island thanks Governor Cuomo for his continued commitment to helping create stronger and more vibrant communities."
Huntington Supervisor Frank P. Petrone said, “The new Welcome Center will benefit visitors to Long Island, motorists on the Long Island Expressway, the region’s and the state’s agriculture industry, and, as a result of community input, local residents who no longer will have to contend with the noise and fumes from idling trucks. I thank Governor Cuomo for listening to the residents’ concerns, and for creating a project that will address visitors’ and residents’ needs.”
Kevin Law, President of the Long Island Association, said, "Over the past five years, we've strengthened Long Island's economy by focusing on what works - like investing in world-class infrastructure, attracting first-rate jobs and driving smart growth in communities from Montauk to Melville. This new Welcome Center will build on that progress, further boosting tourism and showcasing all that Long Island has to offer. The LIA has advocated for this for decades and thus I commend Governor Cuomo for his dedication to investing in this region's infrastructure, strengthening our local economy and making this a priority."
In response to community comments, there will be no tractor trailer or bus parking allowed at the eastbound exit 51-52 Taste NY Long Island Welcome Center, including the service road that supports the facility. Recognizing the need for safety for all users of the LIE, accommodations for trucks and buses have been provided. Trucks and buses travelling eastbound have been redirected to a recently renovated NYSDOT truck inspection site at exit 66. Westbound, a NYSDOT maintenance facility at exit 56 is being renovated to accommodate trucks. The truck parking area at exit 51-52 westbound will be closed once the new facility at exit 56 opens. Improved lighting and portable restroom facilities will be provided at both renovated truck and bus locations.
Peter Scalmandre & Sons Inc. of Freeport, Nassau County is the contractor for the Taste NY Long Island Welcome Center. Construction on the project is expected to be completed by October 2016.
About Taste NY
Taste NY is an initiative launched by Governor Cuomo in 2013 to promote New York’s food and beverage industries. It is overseen by the Department of Agriculture and Markets and has created opportunities for local producers to showcase their goods at large public events, such as the Great New York State Fair. The program has also opened stores at Thruway rest stops along the state’s highways and in transportation hubs, enabling travelers to buy New York State’s homegrown and homemade products. Approximately 1,100 local companies have participated in these opportunities, further linking their products and the state’s growing food and beverage market to consumers from across the globe. For more information about Taste NY, please visit www.taste.ny.gov. Connect with Taste NY through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
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