At least three communities are interested in using a free architectural planning service unveiled by Suffolk County in May.
The county's Economic Development Corp. has received "expressions of interest" from Mastic Beach, Lindenhurst and Amityville, according to Anthony Manetta, a paid consultant to the development corporation.
He said Mastic Beach wants to revamp Neighborhood Road and connect it to the village's waterfront, and to establish a transit hub linking the Long Island Rail Road station to the downtown. Lindenhurst hopes to develop housing near its LIRR station, while Amityville is looking to create drawings of some redevelopment ideas the village received from Regional Plan Association of Manhattan, he said.
In May, the development corporation selected three architectural firms -- Spector Group of Woodbury; Maryland-based Torti Gallas and Partners, and Beatty Harvey Coco Architects of Hauppauge -- to provide planning assistance to towns, villages and hamlets in Suffolk under the new Master Plan Design Program.
The program is being paid for with $200,000 in corporation funds, which come from fees on tax-free bonds that it issues, not tax dollars.
It initially faced resistance from some municipal officials who said they hadn't been consulted and only found out about it when a Newsday reporter asked them to comment in June. One town supervisor said he didn't need the help, citing a long-established Architectural Review Commission in the town.
Last week, Joanne Minieri, the corporation's board chairman and economic development commissioner under Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, defended the Master Plan Design Program.
"This initiative is getting traction and we're getting good feedback," she said. "This is very encouraging."
Minieri and Manetta will decide which architects will work on each municipal project. Manetta came up with the initiative after seeing some communities struggle with building projects when he served as executive director of the county's Industrial Development Agency, which is affiliated with the development corporation.
In 2013, the IDA hired Regional Plan Assocation for up to $300,000 to help local governments with development. RPA worked with Smithtown, Kings Park, Amityville and Babylon Town, with attention being paid to blighted commercial areas, downtowns and LIRR stations.