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Residents hear master plan proposals for revitalizing downtown

Frank Wefering, project manager with GPI, speaks during

Frank Wefering, project manager with GPI, speaks during a public meeting revealing draft recommendations by GPI, the company hired by the Village of Lindenhurst, to create a master plan for its downtown held inside the Lindenhurst Middle School on Tuesday. Credit: Newsday / Steve Pfost

Lindenhurst residents got a glimpse Tuesday night into the possible future of the village’s downtown when a company hired to create a master plan unveiled its recommendations.

The meeting was the first public discussion on suggestions from Babylon-based Greenman-Pedersen Inc., which was hired by the village last year for $80,000, half of which came from state funds. Using feedback from residents, businesses and the board of trustees, the company was tasked with creating a master plan for the village’s downtown that officials said will be used as a blueprint to help shape revitalization efforts.

Dozens listened as Frank Wefering, director of sustainability for the company, revealed 17 draft recommendations under four categories: downtown diversity and development; accessible and connected downtown; updated downtown infrastructure; and downtown as a brand.

For development, Wefering stressed that the village should work to secure a developer for the empty Waldbaums on East Hoffman Avenue, proposing a mixed-use, three- or four-story building with a 10,000- to 20,000-square-foot supermarket below residential units.

The village could improve connectivity by improving transit options, such as adding a bus stop at the train station, he said, and developing a bicycle path network that could connect riders to the waterfront and neighboring Babylon Village.

“People actually do want to cycle,” Wefering said. “You have to start somewhere … other municipalities and villages will just surpass you.”

A survey found that 85% of residents want more parking, but “there is perception and then there’s the actual utilization,” Wefering said, noting a study found “plenty of parking.” He suggested better connectivity and signage for parking lots, saying that with some, “nobody knows that they exist”

“We had people who told us they have lived in Lindenhurst all their lives and they didn’t know about the South First Street municipal parking lots,” Wefering said. He also spoke about better crosswalks and traffic-calming measures on Wellwood and Hoffman avenues.

Residents in attendance appeared mostly supportive of the recommendations, though some quizzed officials further on needed traffic and pedestrian safety and on filling empty storefronts.

One resident questioned whether larger companies might come in and push out mom-and-pop stores, noting that Babylon Village has restricted larger stores. Trustee RJ Renna said Babylon has a reputation as a downtown destination that allows it to be restrictive.

“I don’t know if we have those abilities,” Renna said. “We’re building it up and it’s getting better, but once we bring [businesses] in we have to support and keep them, and I think that’s the part we all need to work on as a community.”

Wefering had presented draft recommendations at a trustee work session in November but later took out some ideas, such as offering tax incentives to businesses. Renna said officials had asked Greenman-Pedersen to “focus on projects that can legitimately be funded via county, state, and federal grants.” He said once the master plan is completed, it will be the village’s job to “triage the recommendations and find the funding with the community.”

Wefering said he will again review the recommendations with village officials and hopes to have a finalized plan by the end of February.

Master plan recommendations

  • Encourage mixed-use developments
  • Encourage more restaurants and retail stores
  • Activate and expand public spaces
  • Require developments to support active transportation
  • Improve connectivity between the downtown and the waterfront
  • Establish greater sense of safety and security
  • Create a downtown identity
  • Develop a downtown marketing strategy
  • Promote Lindenhurst as a healthy and sustainable village

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