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History of the Islip Chamber of Commerce

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The Islip Chamber of Commerce was formed in 1923 by a small group of businessmen with vision who foresaw a small country village growing into a populous hamlet of the Town of Islip with attendant complex problems. The Chamber was incorporated in 1957.

Today, the Islip Chamber of Commerce, Inc. has a paid membership of 160 businesses and concerned residents; a mailing list of 300; and is the most active civic organization in the Town of Islip.

The present Constitution and By-Laws of the Islip Chamber of Commerce, Inc. was adopted in 1959. The Object of the Chamber, as set forth therein is as follows:

“The object of the Chamber of Commerce, Inc. shall be to promote and encourage public improvements and commerce; support industry; adjust disputes relative to trade, transportation and navigation; aid in procuring such laws and regulations as may be found necessary for the benefit of trade in general; to foster the interest of those engaged in or having a common trade, business, financial or professional interest; to secure freedom from unjust and unlawful exactions; to diffuse accurate information as to the standing of merchants and other matters; to procure a uniformity and certainty in the customs and usages of trade and commerce; t o settle differences between its member and to promote a more enlarged and friendly intercourse among its members. To recommend and aid in procuring just and suitable laws, ordinances and enactments, roads, sewerages, draining, transportation, finance, taxation, law and order, education and any other beneficial purposes; to foster an increase in population and shall deem to be advantageous to the community and to aid in securing adequate laws and equal enforcement for the benefit of all. The Chamber in its actions shall be non-partisan and non-sectarian and shall take no part in nor lend its influence to the election or appointment of any candidate for political office.”

In pursuance of its Constitution and By-Laws, the officers and twelve directors hold regular and special meetings and general meeting of the membership. In addition, the Chamber holds at least two social events during the year. The Chamber has twelve actively working Committees which are Beautification; Membership; Publicity; Town Affairs; Education; Merchants; Program; Attendance; Entertainment: Public Relations; Budget; Harbor; and the Islip Town Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber has a proud record of civic endeavor and outstanding achievements in the Village and Town of Islip. A summary of some of the goals reached over the years is as follows: the service road off of Union Avenue behind Associated Supermarket; the parking lot on Smith Avenue near the Islip Fire Department and Islip Theatre; the old Field property parking lot on Grant Avenue with service road to Locust Avenue; the old Raynor property parking lot and service road on Locust Avenue; the old Macy property on Main Street east of Town Hall for future expansion; the expansion of Town Hall and recommendation for keeping Colonial motif; the new Long Island Railroad station and landscaping and parking lot improvement; the addition of industrial zoned land in our school district for a added assessment; improvements of Islip Bathing Beach; improved parking; improvement of garbage collection in our business district; obtaining re-assessment of business property in business area to help small firms; serving as watch dog on zoning and other town actions for benefit of taxpayers; obtaining new post office for hamlet; obtaining and preservation of Memorial Park in the Village; working with Islip school authorities for betterment of the community; recommending and cooperating with Islip Town government for village and town improvements; serving as an active civic improvement organization by working with other organizations in the village and town; and proposing and forming the Town of Islip Chamber of Commerce comprising all the chambers in the Town.

The Chamber’s immediate goals are more police protection; unified zoning laws in the Town; completion of long sought offstreet parking project and access roads in the Village Main Street area to the North; additional offstreet parking areas; a walkway from Main Street to Village offstreet parking; additional landscaping of the LIRR station property; repair of sidewalks in the business section; additional zoning for light industry; location of multiple dwellings and senior citizen apartments adjacent to local business areas to promote Main Street business vis-à-vis large shopping areas; and many more.

(Written May 3, 1997)

The Islip Chamber of Commerce, Then and Now - 1924 - 1984

Images are copyright protected, and may not be used without consent from the Historical Society of Islip Hamlet. To obtain permission or to purchase originals, please Email isliphamlethistory@gmail.com. Thank you.

by Richard B. Johnson, Board of Directors
(In assembling the above data I have had great help from good friends at the Town Hall, our School System, the Library, the Fire department, Southside Hospital and Mr. Carl Starace, Historian.)

On June 17, 1924 we, the Islip Chamber of Commerce, were born…..from the Islip Business Men’s Association (IBMA). From IBMA we inherited $97.64 (their treasury). We’ve been solvent ever since. Originally we were 16 members strong. Now we average 117 members annually. Early meetings were hosted by various member in there homes or places of business. Now we have an attractive office in the center of town. For the past 60 years we have been continually involved in activities bettering out cherished Hamlet as a good place in which to live and work. We have helped to bring about improvements of many kinds (listed elsewhere). We have resisted attempts to exploit our community for selfish, private gain. We will continue to use our leverage in the interest of our thriving and lovely community.

When we started (1924) our Hamlet population was 2300. Now it is over 10,000. Our newspaper was the Islip Press. Then our “new school” on Main Street was 3 years old. It housed all grades (K to 12). There were 37 classroom teachers, now 192. Then the average salary of teachers was $1300. A teacher who married lost her job. There were 16 graduates in 1924….this year we expect 801. Our “new school” now is Town Hall West. Separate JHS and SHS plants, plus 3 elementary schools, now handle 3180 students. Then, our Islip Airport, which we helped establish, was one year old. Amelia Earhart and Clarence Chamberlain participated in the dedication. We had our own water plant. Merrick Road/Main Street was the principle route to New York City. We had a Ford Agency. The A&P, Bohacks and Butlers stores (now gone) supplied our groceries. The Half Shell (now Seascape) and the Viking (still with us) supplied diversion. Our churches were Episcopal, Presbyterian, Methodist and Lutheran. Each still is going strong. Service organization included the Masons, Rotary and Lions. Many of their members were also active in the Chamber.

In 1924 law enforcement was adequately handled by 3 men: two constables (one on a motorcycle) and Justice of the Peace John Kube (who also was Superintendent on the Peters estate). Our lockup was in Bay Shore. A postage stamp was 3c, a postal card 1c, a phone call 5c. Our outstanding Fire Department organized a Fire Patrol, bringing its strength to four Companies. We got our first aerial ladder truck. Our Library was a room on the ground floor of the school. Its budget was $2,288. This year a budget of $588,098 passed the annual vote easily, giving us one of the best equipped, multi-service units on the Island. Our excellent Southside Hospital, then one year old, had 50 beds. It now has 493. In 1924 they had 829 patients; last year 21,153.

Main street in 1924 boasted, among other enterprises, the Orowoc Hotel, Mr. Holmes’ blacksmith shop, Fritz Kort’s bakery, Doc Allen’s pharmacy, Joe Moore’s insurance agency, Art Overton’s funeral parlor, Dr. Lou Garben’s office-in-his-house, the First National Band of Islip, Carl Brown’s tinsmith shop, Frank Saladino’s barber shop and the Campus Shop, next to the school, which was a popular social center. Steam engines hauled LIRR trains. An unrestricted monthly ticket cost $16. Then, we had about 230 commuters to the City; today over 1000. Large estates existed south of Main Street: Dick, Peters, Havemeyer, Atwood, others. An important part of our Hamlet’s economic base derived from these estates (taxes, purchases, employment). In 1924 the Havemeyers donated 5 of their acres on the Bay to what became (with our help) our Town Beach.

In short, the 60 years of our Chamber’s existence has seen our Hamlet (indigenous to our school district) grow in population, wealth, diversity and charm. We are proud to have had a part in this evolution, and we look forward to a continuation of involvement in activities designed “to make the Islip Hamlet a better place in which to live and work”.

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