Let’s face it. Stony Brook is not a college town. Then again, most schools renowned for their science and math programs are not making the Princeton Review list of party schools. But the issue here is not just curriculum. The infrastructure for such a prospect simply is not there.
Anyone that spends any time in the Three Village area will tell you that it is not a very walkable area. Bike lanes abound, it is a more frequent sight to see pedestrians using them.
Not only is it a safety issue, but one of convenience, as well. Why would students want to walk to businesses off campus if they have to travel on the uneven, grassy side of the road? If one gets lost in conversation, they run the risk of not paying attention and stepping out in front of a car.
Over the summer, the New York State Department of Transportation began a $2.2 million project to build new sidewalks around the university, specifically on the south side of Route 25A near the train station. This project presently extends the sidewalk to Nicolls Road, and in the future the sidewalks will wrap around to the north entrance of the university.
This is the first step taken in the attempt to bring Stony Brook to join the other state schools of New York that have “college towns.” Before being replaced by current Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine, former Supervisor Mark Lesko approached President Samuel L. Stanley about ideas to turn Stony Brook into a more college friendly town. While Stanley was reportedly receptive of the idea, Romaine has ostensibly dropped the issue from his radar.
It is great that new sidewalks are coming to Stony Brook, but it is not enough. For one, it is great that we are getting them north of the University, connecting to Subway, CrossFit, East Coast Burritos, among other places, but many students walk down the much more dangerous Stony Brook Road to get to the agglomeration of shops that line NY 347 near Smith Haven Mall. The need for sidewalks from a safety perspective is greater there.
Furthermore, the infrastructure needs to come first, but then there needs to be a place for students to go. Go to any other university campus across the nation and you will find bar after bar, coffee shop after coffee shop. There are so many competitive places, you wonder how there are enough students to keep these places afloat. Dunkin Donuts, the Bench, Sweet Frog and 7-Eleven just do not cut it. We already have most of those types of establishments on-campus. We all hear students complain of a dead campus on the weekends, with trains packed with students westbound on Friday night and eastbound on Sunday, but no wonder. There is more to do in the suburbs surrounding Stony Brook than inside the college town itself.