Tuesday, February 20, 2007

It Takes A Village To Raise A Community

Or At Least A Community With The Gumption To Emulate Village Life

Stroll down Bedford Avenue in Bellmore, and you get a very real sense of what a village should look like, feel like, and be like.

From its quaint, homey shops to its varied restaurants and its multiplex cinema (that still has the look of an old-fashioned movie theatre), to the mega-depot-defying mom and pop hardware store [yes, hardware stores do still exist], there is a vibrancy, a resiliance, an intimacy that those of us in the township's unincorporated areas can only aspire to.

For the moment, its more like envy.
No, Bellmore is not an incorporated village. It sure has the look and fell of one, though.

If Bedford Avenue looks more like Bellmore's answer to Disney's Main Street than it does the business district of your hometown, there may very good reason.

An active, strident, and always on the move Chamber of Commerce and Merchants' Association have led the way to Bedford Avenue's renaissance.
Residents who, joining forces with local merchants (many of whom are also residents), understood that the survival of community requires the resurgence of Main Street.

Being well-connected -- as in former Chamber President Gary Hudes, a GOP stalwart, is now a Town of Hempstead Councilman as well as a business owner (Gennaro Jewelers) -- didn't hurt, either!

The Town did its usual Victorian-style lamppost, brick paver shtick -- giving its all to reward its own -- but the bulk of the kudos belong to the local merchants who realized that a vital and vibrant community has at its core a thriving, attractive, walkable business district -- one that itself is a destination.

We would encourage anyone who would enjoy that old-time downtown "this is community" feel to stroll -- yes, you can actually stroll -- down Bedford Avenue.

Grab a bite at the Bedford Avenue Deli, International Delight Cafe, or one of nearly a dozen eateries. Catch a flick at the Bellemore Playhouse. Stop and smell the roses at one of several floral shops or to lick the ices at Ralph's or City Sweets & Desserts.

Visit Bedford Avenue in Bellmore and remember what it was like to have a real downtown, a true Main Street, in your community.

Then, go home, drive over (because, in all likelihood, you can't walk) to what passes as your town's Main Street, park the car (if you can find a space), and take a walk (we dare not call it a "stroll," as this implies a rather pleasant experience). Look around. Let us know what you see and how you feel. [If "depressed" comes to mind, take a ticket, get on line, and join the club!]

Is your Main Street more akin to Tremont Avenue in the Bronx than Bedford Avenue in Bellmore? If so, ask yourself "Why?"

Want your downtown business district to be the next Bedford Avenue? Call, write, or send smoke signals to your local Chamber of Commerce, civic association, and elected officials, from Town Councilmember on up, and ask them, "Why not?"
It may not take a village, but, most assuredly, it takes all of us, working together, poised to succeed beyond even our own expectations, to raise a community!

1 comment:

  1. I see you have the answer right there in print. We need to make sure a councilmen has a business in our down town. Elmont is on it's way. To whaT ? I don't know; but one thing I do know is that it will take 30 years. That's what they tell me; 30 years. By then, I'll be lucky to walk from my bedroom to the bathroom without missing.Just wonder how high property taxes will be in 2037? Oh I forgot they are predicting that an astroid will hit the earth in 2036. So I guess it's a moot point.

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