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Great Neck Plaza business area to get $1M upgrade

Great Neck Plaza Mayor Jean Celender crosses a

Great Neck Plaza Mayor Jean Celender crosses a street in her community that will benefit from the nearly $900,000 federal grant for a streetscape enhancement project in the business area. Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

More than $1 million in traffic safety enhancements and beautification projects are being planned for Great Neck Plaza's Welwyn Road and Shoreward Drive business area, including the reconstruction of roadways, new brick sidewalks, LED streetlights, benches and trees.

The project is expected to cost $1,084,000. Most of the improvements will be made with an $838,000 grant from the state Department of Transportation's Transportation Enhancement Program. The village will pay the remainder of the cost. Work is expected to begin in spring 2016 and be completed by that fall.

The award was announced in January, and under the terms of the grant the village has five years to complete construction.

Great Neck Plaza is one of only four Long Island municipalities to receive the enhancement program funding. The others are Freeport Village, the Town of Islip and Port Jefferson Village.

DOT spokeswoman Eileen Peters said the program started about 10 years ago with the goal of assisting local governments in driving home the point that local roadways are about much more than motor vehicles.

"They should be walkable and bike- and pedestrian-friendly so people will be encouraged to walk and bike to their local stores," Peters said. "This makes the transportation system more balanced and not just about cars.

"It shows that people have choices, and it encourages motorists to slow down and realize we're all using the roadway," Peters added.

Enhanced crossings, such as raised landscaped medians and shoulder area curb extensions, will be part of the project.

Great Neck Plaza Mayor Jean Celender said replacing the deteriorating concrete sidewalks with brick to connect the project area with surrounding brick streets and putting in new trees and benches will give the business exteriors a more upscale feel.

"This will make the area more attractive and give a sense of arrival to our upgraded business area," Celender said as she walked along the streets. "This will greatly assist our local efforts to strengthen the local and regional economies."

Celender said the improvements proposed in the Transportation Enhancement Program application were based on requests by residents and retail store owners.

"This is going to help a lot with the congestion on these streets," said Eddie Yakubov, owner of the Shop Delight kosher supermarket on Welwyn Road. "The brick sidewalks are good. This place has to look presentable and nice . . . people pay a lot of taxes here, and they should have beauty."

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