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LIREDC to eye LI community for possible $10M revitalization

Long Island Regional Economic Development Council co-vice chairmen

Long Island Regional Economic Development Council co-vice chairmen Stuart Rabinowitz, left, and Kevin Law, right, and Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who serves as chairman of the council, during a meeting of the council at Hofstra University on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016 in Hempstead. Credit: Howard Schnapp

One Long Island community could receive up to $10 million to revitalize its downtown under a budget proposal from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

The Downtown Revitalization Initiative, which still must be approved by the State Legislature, would distribute $100 million across the state, with each of 10 regions getting $10 million for a single community.

Details of the proposed program were discussed Tuesday at a meeting of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council.

The council, along with its nine counterparts across the state, is charged with soliciting applications for downtown redevelopment and recommending one to state government for funding. The initiative is being overseen by Cesar A. Perales, former secretary of state.

The downtowns selected should be high needs areas that have “experienced a loss of population and high unemployment,” said Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who chairs each regional council and attended Tuesday’s meeting at Hofstra University.

Recognizing that the program could pit communities against one another, Hofstra University president Stuart Rabinowitz, co-vice chairman of the Long Island council, said, “This will be an open process . . . Everyone will get a chance to make their pitch.”

Details about the application deadline probably won’t be known until Cuomo and the legislature reach agreement on the 2016-17 budget. They are facing a deadline of April 1, the start of the state’s fiscal year.

This is the third time Cuomo has asked his regional councils, which he established in 2011, to single out a community or industry within a region for additional state aid.

Last year, the Long Island council picked biotechnology as the industry most in need of state help. In 2013, the council selected Wyandanch to participate in Cuomo’s Opportunity Agenda program, which seeks to combat poverty and blight.

Improving downtowns is a top priority for local officials. In Suffolk, the county’s industrial development agency hired a planning group to assist Amityville, Kings Park and Smithtown. In Nassau, apartment buildings near Long Island Rail Road stations have spurred other improvements in Mineola, Farmingdale and West Hempstead.

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