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Westbury revitalization plans get state funding for upgrades

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul with Westbury Mayor Peter

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul with Westbury Mayor Peter Cavallaro announces downtown revitalization funding on Wednesday, May 17, 2017, in Westbury. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

A year after the village of Westbury was awarded a $10 million state grant for downtown revitalization, all of its priority projects have officially been funded.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the funding at a news conference in the village downtown Wednesday, saying that the projects would inspire a sense of new possibility in the community.

Westbury was last year’s Long Island winner for the first year of the Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative. The village was among 10 communities selected across the state, with a total of $100 million disbursed.

Over the past year, the Westbury community has been brainstorming how to use the grant by organizing a planning committee and holding multiple community forums. Now, the ideas such as rezoning downtown, adding more housing near the Long Island Rail Road station, creating a permanent home for the village arts council, developing a grant program for retail improvement, and providing better walking paths, will become a reality, officials said.

Mayor Peter Cavallaro said Wednesday that the revitalization was an “exciting new chapter in the village’s history” that will enhance sustainability for the future. Some projects are “shovel-ready,” while others will take some time, he said.

“I view this as the starting gate ... We’re like a horse in the bridle in the pen waiting to go,” Cavallaro said. “Now we have the ability to go out and start moving these projects forward.”

Among the top priorities are rezoning downtown and purchasing 25 acres near Maple and Union avenues for mixed-use, transit-oriented development, at a cost estimated at $4.8 million. That project coincides with the LIRR proposal to build new parking garages in the area as part of the $2 billion third track expansion plan.

About $430,000 is budgeted for upgrades to the Westbury Recreation and Community Center Complex. Another $600,000 is allotted for launching grant programs to attract new businesses and update retail store facades. Roughly $4.5 million is slated for streetscape improvements such as installing LED lighting and bike racks along Post Avenue from Northern State Parkway to Old Country Road.

Eric Alexander, director of Vision Long Island, said that the community decision-making process was essential to development on the Island.

“This is the formula that will be trusted on Long Island,” Alexander said, adding that there has been progress in recent years. “We’re not the NIMBY capital of the world anymore.”

Hochul said that municipalities vying for the second year of $10 million revitalization grants can look to Westbury as an example. The deadline is June 14 and applications will be reviewed by the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council.

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