The Village of Westbury just received their shotgun start. Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul visited the village today to reveal the projects that have been approved for state funding through the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI), and new businesses, streetscape improvements and transit-oriented housing are just some of the items on the list.
“I hope you sense that there’s a new excitement,” said Hochul, at a press conference in the Ernesto Strada Piazza on May 17. “That there’s a new sense of possibility in this community.”
The seven priority projects that were approved were:
Downtown zoning will be updated to promote transit-oriented development. This will include a greater mix of retail and commercial development.
“I hope you never take for granted your proximity to the LIRR,” said Hochul. “We need to capitalize on that. We can allow for a greater mix of commercial and retail development. We’ll have greater density by the station and that just makes sense.”
A grant program will incentivize businesses to improve their exteriors, providing a more cohesive and visually appealing downtown. A fit out grant will be offered to attract new businesses/retailers.
The intersection at Post and Union Avenues will be improved, to accommodate new traffic flow.
This will include new trees, benches, bike racks and LED lighting, as well as a consistent pavement profile. Sidewalks will also be expanded in certain intersections to provide increased walkability and pedestrian safety. The goal is to increase walkability downtown.
Open space in the Maple-Union corridor
Rezoning will allow for 25-acres in the Maple-Union “triangle” to be redeveloped for mixed-use, transit-oriented development, as well as the development of open space for passive and active recreation, including a new venue for arts and cultural events.
“It’s right in the heart of the gateway to the village and near the rail road,” said trustee William Wise. “That’ll be a great situation and would help our village tremendously.”
Venue for arts and cultural events
The village will develop a 2,000 to 3,000 square foot property in the heart of downtown for the Westbury Arts Council to hold arts showcases, classes, events and meetings.
“The arts brings people together,” said Verni. “Having an arts-centric component is key.”
Community Center upgrades
Renovations to the Community Center, as well as reconfigurations to the parking lot to hold increased capacity.
The announcement of the approved projects comes less than a year after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the Village of Westbury was one of 10 statewide communities to win $10 million in downtown revitalization funds. Since the awarding of the grant last July, the village had met with community members and leaders to come up with an 188-page report on what would be priority projects to transform downtown. Village Mayor Peter Cavallaro said he was very happy to know all the priority projects identified would be funded.
“This is going to be an exciting new chapter in the village’s history,” Cavallaro said, adding that the Maple-Union corridor project was the seminal project. “A lot of things are going to spring off that. We’re almost creating a mini-neighborhood next to the train station for young adults and seniors. We think that’s really important.”
Some projects, such as the LED lighting upgrades, are ready to go, while others will take a while to get started. But Hochul noted that since state funding has been approved, things will happen “very quickly.”
“There’s no final time limit on this, all seven initiatives have a different life span,” Hochul said. “But people will see their community transform before their eyes.”