Valley Stream Downtown Revitalization Taskforce hears from Local Mayors

In their ongoing efforts to revitalize Valley Stream’s downtown, the local Revitalization Task Force gathered at the village courthouse to hear from the Mayors of three growing downtowns.

Mayor Jean Celender of Great Neck Plaza, Scott Strauss of Mineola, and Ralph Eckstrand of Farmingdale all spoke to the group about benefits and pitfalls that they have seen during their revitalization efforts.  The process they described included grant-seeking, negotiating with developers, and architectural reviews that were aimed at bringing in more businesses to help make their downtowns into destinations.

The officials also spoke on challenges that included pushback from local residents, school district complaints, and economic issues that small businesses have to overcome to be successful.  Even in the face of those challenges, the three Mayors encouraged the taskforce to keep on working on their revitalization and good things would eventually come.

“Change is going to happen in Valley Stream,” said Mayor Strauss, “and if you don’t manage the change, it’s coming anyway, so you need to manage the change and adapt… to the surroundings.”

They also brought up how increased density and transit-oriented development has helped to speed up the process.  Not only do such projects increase foot traffic, they are also attractive for younger residents who are looking to live in up-and-coming downtowns.  The Villages also worked to create architectural standards that would allow them to hold onto their signature looks.  Mayor Eckstrand cited Farmingdale’s successful signage program that incentivizes local owners to update signs with the help of community block grants.

Of course, there were some cautions as well.  Mayor Strauss warned about certain businesses, such as offices and medical buildings that can draw in foot traffic on the weekday but sit empty on weekends.  He also talked about how it became necessary to institute a moratorium on new development when the local community pushed back with worries about congestion.  Mayor Eckstrand noted that Farmingdale had also imposed a moratorium after 8 years of continuous growth in order to reassess.

Valley Stream has received multiple Smart Growth Awards from Vision Long Island for past projects and efforts to revitalize its community. We look forward to the downtown developments that are on the way and the Village’s continued success.

You can read more here.