Lindenhurst Mayor Michael Lavorata, left, and Suffolk County Executive Steve...

Lindenhurst Mayor Michael Lavorata, left, and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone celebrate at Villa Pizza after Bellone signed legislation awarding the village with a $350,000 grant. Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

Lindenhurst will receive $350,000 from Suffolk County to help improve walkability in the village’s downtown.

County Executive Steve Bellone announced the award Tuesday inside a recently opened pizza restaurant on Wellwood Avenue. Bellone lauded the village's successful efforts to fill empty downtown storefronts in the past few years, as well as the 260-unit apartment complex that recently broke ground nearby on East Hoffman Avenue. Bellone, who was flanked by Assemb. Kimberly Jean-Pierre (D-Wheatley Heights), State Sen. John Brooks (D-Seaford), and former Assemb. Robert Sweeney, said the village is “charting a great course” and is “critical” to the county.

“Our whole economic development program here in Suffolk County is based on supporting local communities who have a vision and are making the kind of investments that are not only going to help the local communities … but that are doing things that will help the entire region,” he said. “To a great extent, what happens in Lindenhurst and how Lindenhurst goes, is how Suffolk County goes.”

The money comes from Jumpstart Suffolk, which provides capital funds to help with the planning and development of “regionally significant, vibrant mixed-use transit-oriented development” in downtowns and adjacent areas.

The grant is one of eight totaling more than $3 million given to communities across the county this year for projects ranging from $100,000 toward the restoration of waterfalls in Babylon Village to $625,000 toward a municipal parking garage in Patchogue Village.

Lindenhurst Mayor Mike Lavorata said the village board has not decided how to use the money. He said the village would like to make improvements based off a recently completed walkability study, or use the grant to purchase land to add needed parking.

“We’re just so excited,” Lavorata said of the grant. “In three years, we’ve seen so much go on, that it’s an exciting time.”

The walkability study, completed in July by Babylon-based Greenman-Pedersen Inc., using a $200,000 county grant, offered suggestions such as adding medians, bike racks and pedestrian warning signs to the downtown.

Lindenhurst trustee RJ Renna said the study was “chalked up to a joke” by many residents. “But it’s not a joke,” he said. “We want to be able to provide safe streets … we know that we can make some serious improvements in Lindenhurst to make it more handicap accessible and more attractive to both older generations and new generations to come.”

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