An outdoor amphitheater, business facade improvements and pedestrian safety measures are some of the projects under consideration for Lindenhurst's downtown after the village won $4.5 million in state funding.
In January, the state awarded the money as part of its NY Forward program, which dedicates funding to invigorating downtown neighborhoods in smaller communities.
Village officials said that after working for years to improve the downtown, the funding will help spark a resurgence that already has begun — with 13 new businesses opening since the pandemic started.
“It’s a game changer,” Mayor Mike Lavorata said of the funding. “It puts us on a different plateau than we were in the past.”
Village pitches for downtown upgrades
Park expansion and amphitheater: $6 million
Traffic safety improvements: $575,000
Walking trail: $147,000
Source: Village of Lindenhurst
In May the village began holding a series of public workshops to discuss ideas for spending the money and held an open call for project submissions.
A 16-member planning committee will work with the state to pick the winning projects. The state also hired a Manhattan consultancy, BFJ Planning, to assist in finalizing them.
Businesses and community groups made 36 submissions, while village officials offered up their own pitches for how to spend the money.
“It’s off to a great start,” RJ Renna, deputy mayor and planning committee co-chair, said of the process.
He said ideas from the community include spending money on facade improvements, artistic murals and traffic safety upgrades.
Village officials have five project ideas, including a $6 million expansion of Village Square Park that would include construction of an outdoor amphitheater.
Lindenhurst's leaders also proposed creating a walking trail from Newark Street to Hoffman Avenue for $147,000.
The village also wants to use the state money on traffic safety improvements, dedicating $110,000 to upgrades on East Hoffman Avenue, spending $315,000 on West Hoffmann Avenue and using $150,000 on North Wellwood Avenue.
Lindenhurst officials have estimated they would use $2 million of the state money on the amphitheater project if that proposal got approval.
For that plan to work the village would have to buy Suffolk County's Second District Courthouse on East Hoffman Avenue, which the county leases, and demolish it before an outdoor amphitheater could rise on part of the footprint.
Babylon Town’s new adjudication bureau in North Amityville is taking on the majority of cases from the Lindenhurst court facility, village officials said.
The state money can’t be used for the purchase of property so the village would have to bond for it, Lavorata said. The $2 million in state funding could go toward demolition and creating a green space around the area, he added.
The mayor said having a larger outdoor performance space in the village has long been a dream of his.
"It would mean more greenery and more public space," Lavorata said.
Village and local groups could use the amphitheater for music and theater performances, according to the mayor.
Renna said the park would increase from about 2,250 square feet to around 7,000 square feet and include more restrooms and a concession stand under the plan.
“We’re pulling all our resources to see what can be done,” Lavorata said. “We don’t want to lead ourselves down a primrose path and then find out after all is said and done it’s not going to happen.”