“What does it say about the state of our village, at a time when other communities are struggling to revive their downtowns that organizations are investing hundreds of millions of dollars right here in Mineola?” asked Mayor Scott Strauss during the annual state of the village address on September 18 at the village hall.
The overall consensus of the mayor’s speech – the second time that he had given the address – which lasted about 10 minutes in front of the various business, community leaders and other members of the village board, was that the village was “on solid financial ground,” but “we need to be cautious” in the use of the village’s unreserved fund as “we still face a significant increase in our healthcare costs as well as out pension fund requirement in the coming year and we have an unsettled employees union contract to deal with.”
“The last 18 months as your mayor have gone by tremendously fast,” Strauss said, recapping that the village had it’s bond rating raised, reaffirmed, and touching upon a litany of updates including construction projects relating to the downtown areas and the master plan, Bruce Terrace and steps the village had taken to address needs both fiscally and technological.
“I mentioned last year that this would allow us the opportunity to seek the refinancing of our loans and we did exactly that,” Strauss said of the refinancing of the village debt, which is expected to save $1.3 million. “This comes at a time when the federal, state and the county governments continue to face significant financial issues.”
In the downtown area the changes will render the old Mineola virtually unrecognizable. The new Winston and Churchill apartment projects will break ground soon while Winthrop has begun work on the new diabetes research center while the new Raines Building on the corner of Old Country Road and Mineola Boulevard has been completed with new businesses moving in beneath luxury apartments.
“These projects are advancing rapidly and will help boost the success of local businesses in our downtown area,” the mayor said.
While the project at the old Keyspan building is not underway, the mayor said that the village will continue to work with developers “to ensure their ideas and goals coincide with our desire to keep the Master Plan for our village on track.”
All of the new developments will afford the village incentive payouts to help beautify the surrounding neighborhoods and address the municipality’s infrastructure needs.
“New equipment can be purchased, parks enhanced and beautification projects taken on without placing additional burdens on already-stressed taxpayers,” Strauss said.
One of those infrastructure projects which is critically needed is the Bruce Terrace flood mitigation project, the bids on which will be opened this week with ground anticipated to be broken in the next few months.
“This will bring much-needed relief to our neighbors in the Bruce Terrace area and the East Second Street commercial area,” Strauss said, adding his thanks to Sen. Jack Martins for help on another project, the repaving of Jericho Turnpike and expanding the scope of the work to include Mineola.
Minor by comparison but no less significant is the reconstruction of the gazebo in Memorial Park, design of which are currently being pursued with plans for construction to start in 2013. The village also launched its new website this year and installed solar panels on the department of public works garage, allowing it to sell power generated back to LIPA.
“We have fiscal challenges ahead of us but we will meet with them head on and deal with them responsibly,” Strauss said, noting that he has asked employees “to do more with less, and they have. I have tasked them with helping me find ways to improve our operations and they are doing so.”
“We have raised the bar for other communities to reach, we have made Mineola the place to seek out and live in and do business in,” Strauss said. “Let’s keep that going by working together, let’s continue to make Mineola the best it possibly can be. Mineola’s future is here and it is in our hands.”