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As growth heats up downtown, Ronkonkoma cools off at the lake

Outdoor seating at Alston courtyard in Ronkonkoma

Despite it being a rather sprawling hamlet, Ronkonkoma enjoys a solid sense of community, says Town of Islip Supervisor Angie Carpenter. “There really is a sense of pride in Ronkonkoma,” says Carpenter, noting that the annual Ronkonkoma Street Fair is perennially popular.

Another draw to the area is Lake Ronkonkoma, which boasts recreation and senior centers, tennis courts, new pickleball courts and a playground. “And, then of course: the lake and the beach. It’s really a lovely facility,” says Carpenter.

Long Island MacArthur Airport, also in Ronkonkoma, just got its fourth carrier in February, but come September, American Airlines will pull its service there, leaving Southwest, Frontier and the new Breeze Airways.

Adjacent to MacArthur is Islip’s Foreign Trade Zone, an industrial park with 35 businesses and plans to add three new buildings.

The Ronkonoma Hub, a transit-oriented community aiming to create a thriving downtown near the Long Island Rail Road station in the hamlets of Ronkonkoma and Lake Ronkonkoma, broke ground last year with Alston Station Square, a 53-acre development that will eventually have a total of 1,450 new apartments, 360,000 square feet of office space and 195,000 square feet of retail. Apartment rentals there range from $2,100 for a studio to $4,100 for a three-bedroom, a company spokesman said.

The hamlet’s name is derived from Raconkamuck, which means “boundary fishing lake” in Algonquin. Long Island’s largest freshwater lake, Lake Ronkonkoma was once the boundary separating four Native American communities.

Purported to have healing powers, the lake became a magnet for development, and a resort community blossomed there in the late 19th century, which included William K. Vanderbilt II’s Petit Trianon Hotel, named for Marie Antoinette’s Versailles palace. From 1908 to 1910, Vanderbilt’s Motor Parkway was the site of 48-mile auto races, which terminated at the hotel.

“Ronkonkoma residents enjoy the sense of a local family community, accessibility to the LIRR, L.I.E. and Long Island local shopping, and, of course, the lake,” says Corinne Michalowski of Home Possible Realty.

Read the full article in Newsday.