Group to help implement Farmingdale master plan
Farmingdale has the plan to revive its flagging downtown: a 130-plus page blueprint.
It also has the pieces to jump-start the process: a central location, a railroad station and a proposed mixed-use development.
What the village needs now is implementation, according to a group of residents, business owners and officials volunteering to take on the task.
"A couple of us got together and asked, 'Are we just going to let development happen? Or are we going to try to influence how we move forward?' " said Chuck Gosline, a 35-year resident of Farmingdale and co-chair of the newly formed Downtown Master Plan Implementation Committee.
The group's members were sworn in at Monday's village board meeting by Mayor Ralph Ekstrand, who took a playful dig at their cumbersome name.
Their goals, however, are straightforward.
The 13 committee members will advise village officials on future growth, pore over the master plan and otherwise do research to find and recruit developers and merchants they believe will round out the downtown.
"There's a lot to be done with parcels that people don't even know about, potential gems," Gosline said.
The group is also planning events to promote downtown businesses, beginning with the village's first St. Patrick's Day Parade, a family-friendly affair set for March 17.
The committee represents the next chapter in Farmingdale's quest for a smart-growth, transit-oriented downtown, an ambitious vision that has garnered it regional accolades.
It was preceded by a group of Farmingdale stakeholders called the Downtown Revitalization Committee who toiled for four years on the master plan, which was completed in 2011 and is called Downtown Farmingdale 2035.
The task at hand is to put the plan in motion, the implementation committee said.
"Anything we could do to get Main Street and Farmingdale more action, we'd love to do," said Tony Kathreptis, co-owner of the Caracara Mexican Grill and a committee member.
He said a potential Farmingdale Restaurant Week could be successful. But the village needs a diverse array of businesses to fill the empty storefronts that spot the downtown, Kathreptis said. "It only goes one way, and that's up and thriving," he predicted.
Kathreptis applauded the committee members' eagerness to take the reins in their village. "If you don't get involved and try to make it happen, then you can't blame anybody but yourself."
Ekstrand said he appreciates the time and energy that residents and merchants in his village are willing to invest to secure its future.
"There are so many things for the village board to do, and we can't do everything," he said. "It's important to have concerned citizens and concerned merchants involved, and they may look at something differently than myself."
Tasks of Farmingdale's new Downtown Master Plan Implementation Committee:
Revisit the downtown master plan and research new data
Discuss, debate and draft marketing ideas toward the implementation strategy for the village board's consideration
Consider the goals and priorities of the downtown master plan to guide the implementation strategy