CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Many on Long Island have long wondered, what's with all those historic abandoned buildings near the courthouse in Central Islip?
The answer is they were part of a sprawling state hospital that opened in 1889, and there are finally big plans for the site, CBS2's Jennifer McLogan reported Tuesday.
In the shadow of the Long Island Ducks ballpark and adjacent to the federal courthouse sits 87 acres once occupied by the Central Islip Psychiatric Center.
It was shuttered in 1996 and is now considered by many an eyesore.
The Reyes family speaks for many in the hamlet. They were asked what's the responsible thing to do with more than a dozen 100-year-old buildings that once housed thousands of psychiatric patients but have since become vacant and look like an abandoned Hogwarts School from Harry Potter.
"Use the space they have wisely," Mr. Reyes said.
"Affordable housing is something that this community needs," his son added.
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At first, developers came in and wanted to raze the structures and build anew, turning the site into an industrial park. But a local coalition said no, so the developers went back to the drawing board.
Debra Cavanagh, president of the Central Islip Coalition of Good Neighbors, said, shockingly, the consortium of Farmingdale and Bethpage builders listened.
"It was important to the community that they would keep the buildings and keep the history," Cavanagh said.
This is the latest effort over the past three decades to revitalize Central Islip, a community of about 35,000 that has lagged behind most of Long Island.
Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter showed CBS2 the renderings that will salvage the buildings with new apartments -- some for seniors and low income -- and create parks, pools, picnic areas, playgrounds and walking paths.
"This truly is a win-win. All of those buildings are being preserved and they are going to be upgraded and they will be beautiful," Carpenter said.
Construction is expected to start this spring.
CBS2's Jennifer McLogan contributed to this report
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