People stroll downtown Patchogue, Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. Downtown Patchogue...

People stroll downtown Patchogue, Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. Downtown Patchogue is one of the four best neighborhoods in the country, according to the American Planning Association "Great Places in America" list. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

Downtown Patchogue is one of the four top communities in the country, according to a national nonprofit that surveys the best places to live.

The American Planning Association, based in Washington, D.C., put Patchogue on its Great Places in America list for 2019 because of its transformation from a sleepy village to a vibrant community with shops, bars, entertainment and nightlife.

“By creating a vibrant downtown, the Village of Patchogue has become a place for professionals and young families to live and grow," the organization said.

The organization also recognized downtown Lee's Summit in Missouri, Short North Arts District in Ohio and the historic downtown Delaware, also in Ohio.

"For 20 years, the village and Suffolk County turned to planning innovations like transit-oriented development, investments in local infrastructure, and early adoption of multifamily housing," the organization said when it  released its list in September. "The result is a staggering increase in public and private investment."

Alex Wallach, professional development officer for the planning organization's New York chapter, nominated the village. He also lives in Patchogue and sits on the village zoning board of appeals.

"I was looking for a place with a planner's mentality, and I wanted to live near public transportation, shopping and restaurants. Patchogue checks all the boxes for me," said Wallach, adding that the nomination was reviewed by the national chapter and another committee.

The association annually recognizes streets, neighborhoods and public spaces demonstrating exceptional character, quality and planning that the group contends enrich communities and facilitate economic growth. Criteria for the recognition included having bikeable communities, mixed land-use patterns and areas that reduce energy.

Suffolk County last month launched a bike-sharing program in Patchogue, and many bars and restaurants have introduced green initiatives.

“Being considered a great place in America tells the story of a community that embraced change," village Mayor Paul V. Pontieri Jr. said in a news release issued by the nonprofit. "The strength of any community is driven by its diversity, its commitment to the future and residents’ willingness to volunteer to make their village a better place,”

The organization will host a free celebration open to the public at 11 a.m. Oct. 19 at the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts, where a small bronze plaque will be unveiled. 

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