HUNTINGTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo was on Long Island Friday to kick off construction on a new 15,200 square-foot “Welcome Center” in Huntington.
The new facility will be constructed on a formerly unused section of the Long Island Expressway as exits 51 and 52 on the roadway’s eastbound side, WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reported.
“It serves as a convenience rest stop,” Cuomo said. There is also an emergency function to this site — what you do with drivers who are on the LIE in case of a serious storm.”
The project is part of Cuomo’s “Taste NY” initiative, aimed at highlighting food and beverages that are produced by local businesses. The center will feature food and beverages from local vendors, as well as a large parking lot and restroom facilities.
While the new Suffolk County location will provide vending opportunities for local business owners, some are concerned about the possibility of selling wine — a popular Long Island commodity — so close to a well-traveled and potentially dangerous expressway.
“DWI is a terrible problem,” Cuomo said. “I don’t think you are going to solve DWI by stopping the sale of alcohol. They are unrelated.”
Cuomo launched the Taste NY program in 2013, in cooperation with the Department of Agriculture and Markets, who oversees the program. Since then, more than 11 stores are now open, including one in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, a Taste NY Café at Whiteface Mountain and a newly-opened Taste NY cafe at the Nikon Theater at Jones Beach in Nassau County. Grand Central Station also has a Taste NY store.
In January, Cuomo announced that Taste NY sales jumped to more than $4.5 million from $1.5 million in 2014.
The welcome center is expected to be completed by October.