Assemblyman Jim Conte. File photo
October 24, 2012 | 07:00 PMThe Huntington Town Board voted unanimously last Tuesday to name the New York State armory in Huntington Station after Jim Conte, in honor of the state assemblyman who died earlier that day.
Praising Conte for helping to secure the building for the town as one of his last official acts in the Assembly, Supervisor Frank Petrone said in a release, "Jim Conte was a distinguished legislator and a dear friend who kept the interests of his constituents and community foremost in his heart. He worked with us as we undertook and continue the process of revitalizing Huntington Station and, in particular, he was relentless in making sure that the town was able to secure the armory in Huntington Station for community uses. Naming the armory after him is a fitting tribute and a living memorial to someone who will truly be missed."
Located at 100 E. 5th St., the more than 25,000-square-foot armory, which was built between 1958 and 1961, had been used by the National Guard's 245th Artillery, an air defense unit that was eventually disbanded. It was also home to the 42nd Aviation Company and, most recently, headquarters for Company D of the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment, said Richard Goldenberg, a spokesman for the National Guard. The building was closed in 2011 when the New York National Guard consolidated units and organizations at the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Farmingdale.
Speaking on behalf of the family, Conte's brother Robert said they are very honored and pleased by the
"My brother had been working to get the armory to them for quite some time now," Robert Conte said. "It's a very nice gesture by the Town Board members."
Through the years, his brother and Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset) ensured that money was earmarked for repair and upkeep of the armory, Robert Conte said, "so that when the town did acquire it ... they wouldn't just get a dilapidated building."
The New York State armory in Huntington Station, which will be named after Assemblyman Jim Conte. Photo by Arlene Gross
As to how the building will be used remains to be seen, town spokesman A.J. Carter said. Some suggestions have already been made, including a center for veterans or a community center, possibly with indoor basketball courts. Petrone may convene a committee dedicated to deliberate on how best to use the facility.
Robert Conte noted that his brother wanted the building to be used by the young people from Huntington Station and the greater Huntington area.
The new center will be a great resource and asset to the town, said Peggy Boyd, vice president of Family Service League, which runs a family center in the town building located next door at Manor Field Park.
"We understand that the site will honor Assemblyman James Conte, and cannot think of a finer individual deserving of such recognition," she said. "We look forward to working with the town and the many agencies that provide services to the community in planning how to best utilize this space once acquired."
The town and state are in the process of taking the final steps necessary to transfer the building, after which time it will be officially renamed the James D. Conte Center, Carter said.