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Struggling Long Island Community Fighting To Keep CVS Drive-Thru Out

People Of Baldwin Want Revitalization, But Prefer Revamped Downtowns Over Retailers

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BALDWIN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A small community is fighting against the building of a big drug store.

Residents told CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff on Monday they have nothing against national retail chains, but more is needed to turn around the struggling downtown of this Long Island community.

Decades of decline, stores padlocked, “For Sale” signs abound, it’s a far cry from when Baldwin’s Main Street thrived, Gusoff reported.

But residents rallying for long-awaited revitalization say they’re not welcoming news of a big development deal in the works: a drive-thru CVS drug store.

“A drive-thru stand-alone CVS, that’s not going to fill our vision,” Baldwin Civic Association president David Viana said.

What Baldwin and other struggling hamlets need, residents said, are downtowns with affordable housing, shops and restaurants — not another big drug store.

“I think that strip malls are something we have to move away from,” said Baldwin Civic Association vice president Karen Montalbano.

Residents have been lobbying Smart Growth, a national trend taking root on Long Island revitalizing down towns by making them more appealing to young people to live and work.

“Customers want to be in downtowns. Young people and aging baby boomers, a whole range of people, want to shop in downtowns and people want to live in downtowns,” Vision Long Island president Eric Alexander said.

“We’re really looking to create an area where people can live in a downtown business district. People can shop on a Friday night, on a Saturday night, go out to eat,” Viana added.

That’s proven easier said than done. The Town of Hempstead installed Victorian lighting and brick sidewalks to lure Smart Growth, but three times developers backed out. Town officials said a chain store is a starting point in a tough economy.

“It’s our thought and our hope that if you attract a major retailer and then another store, that sort of success will inspire others to come in,” Town of Hempstead spokesman Mike Deary said.

The one developer who has offered to build in Baldwin, Wilbur Breslin, said there are serious space constraints.

“Were doing the best we can to develop something of quality,” he told CBS 2. “You’ve got to start someplace.”

The developer said that the deal with CVS is not finalized and they are also talking with other retailers.

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