The Lindenhurst Village economic development committee met Thursday for the first time in nine months and with a new member.
The committee, which was formed in December 2014, met monthly until August with an overarching goal of improving a lackluster downtown with a high vacancy rate.
The committee was originally made up of: village trustee Darrel Kost; former Democratic Assemb. Robert Sweeney; former Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency executive director Anthony Manetta; New York Community Bank Foundation executive director Marian Conway; and Lindy Gazette publisher Lance Walker, who was removed from the post last month.
Walker, who sold the Gazette last year, said he had asked to be replaced.
“I just don’t have the time to attend the meetings,” said Walker, who has returned to a career as a plumber. “Between work and family and launching a new career, it wouldn’t be fair to the committee or to the residents to take up that space.”
Joseph Biggs, 26, a proprietor of Cieslaks Modern Bakery in the village, was selected to take Walker’s place. Biggs, who is in the process of opening a “vintage American” restaurant on East Hoffman Avenue and South High Street, said he wants to do “whatever I can to help out” and improve the downtown.
The other committee members lauded having a local business owner on the board. Sweeney noted a lack of participation in the public meetings by business owners and suggested making a “very specific, determined invitation to them to be participating in this process.”
Sweeney added that he “certainly wouldn’t feel comfortable completing any of our work until we’ve heard from those people.”
Business owners have complained about a lack of support from the village and those seeking to open a business downtown have said they backed off due to a long and arduous permitting process.
Committee Chair and village Clerk-Treasurer Shawn Cullinane said that to address this, mayoral assistant Katherine McCaffrey, who serves as secretary to the committee, would be taking on a new role as a liaison between the village’s building department and downtown businesses.
The committee will meet again on June 29 at 7 p.m.