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'Tis The Season to Love Our Town - Part 3

Almost everyone agrees that the secret to success is a “vibrant” Main Street. But what is that exactly, and how do we get one?

During the recent Small Business Saturday following Thanksgiving, our Main Street in Port Washington was abuzz with activity or, to use the words of a neighbor, “hoppin.’”  How can we sustain a high level of activity on Main Street year round?

If you believe the Residents for a More Beautiful Port Washington, a successful Main Street is as easy as adding a few stories of apartments above the stores (except of course, our rows of individual stores would need to be razed and replaced with new three-story, block-sized buildings to fulfill that concept, but I digress). I guess their thought is that our new apartment dwellers would be captive, instant shoppers. If that were true then almost every commercial strip in Brooklyn and Queens would be hoppin.’  

What makes a business corridor successful is more complex than turning over the keys to a developer and hoping the shiny, new, cookie-cutter buildings get filled with the right stores and people. The town needs to address the current ordinances and policies that make it difficult to start and keep a business on Main Street. 

In parallel, we need to do the work of determining the right business mix for our town and location, and develop a business attraction and marketing strategy, before we start building new things. We might even find that our current structures are sufficient. Perhaps there is a case to be made for new, mixed-use buildings, but where is that analysis and is congested Main Street really the best place for these? Proponents of the Main Street proposal also keep forgetting that according to the Long Island Index, 5,500 of us already live within walking distance of Main Street, which is compact for Long Island.

Let’s not lose sight that Port Washington has two key tools for a vibrant Main Street, which other towns would envy: an intact, walkable, small-town structure and a relatively wealthy client base. We are missing: business friendly policies, ongoing dialogue with the current residents, and the right business mix. I disagree that a cookie-cutter downtown is the missing ingredient.

Please consider attending the public hearing on December 11 in Town Hall at 7:30 p.m. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Donna Rice December 12, 2012 at 01:04 PM
Tommy and I just want to thank everyone who took the time to turn out last night for the Town of North Hempstead's puppet show. I thought the puppeteer's finest moment was when the League of Women's voters read their statement asking only for a postponement so the people of Port Washington could get more information on an important issue and received a disrespectful response. Maybe he will take his puppet show on the road and go to LIPA. Or does LIPA not want him anymore?
Local Resident December 13, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Mr. Model: If realistically nothing is going to be rebuilt, then why go through the process of rezoning? Is it logical that RFMBPW came up with the idea of rezoning properties on Main Street without "encouragement" from a select few properties owners? On the one block of Main Street directly across from the LIRR station, one owner already owns 5 of the 7 lots? Agreed, it is going to be very difficult for a single property to redevelop individually...the parking requirements, setbacks, and ADA accessibility requirements will make it almost an impossibility. However, if an Owner owns multiple properties, redevelopment becomes a very real possibility, probably a certainty. Consolidating properties allow an owner to spread the parking requirements, take advantage of built-in parking credits, and conform to setback and ADA requirements. There is no legislation limiting the consolidation of properties, and it is clear that all the "not-mandatory" design guidelines are EASILY achievable without much effort. And the design guidelines do not ensure "charming" buildings. Sooner, rather than later, there will be a multi-lot, 3-story building on Main Street. Likely, it will be a full block. This is a done deal. The only question now is whether or not a mixed-used application has already been filed? There is no way RFMBPW would so aggressively propose and lobby for the rezoning legislation unless they and the proposal were being backed by special interests.
Local Resident December 13, 2012 at 03:26 PM
I do agree with you 100% about the building department...it needs to be rezoned.
Donna Rice December 13, 2012 at 03:39 PM
You can view those pictures at: http://portwashington.patch.com/blog_posts/tis-the-season-to-love-our-town
jonathan winant December 14, 2012 at 09:35 AM
Everything is relavent if you stp and look at it The new buildings in New Cassel might look nice over there if you consider what was previously there. In our case we do not need the same type of construction which New Cassel has. From what I heard much of the Government approved building in New Cassel which included housing was said to have been a fiasco with a lot of problems at least that is what I remeber reading. Is this what Port residents really want?

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