Monday, October 22, 2007

Visions Of Victorian-Style Street Lamps?

Results Of Visioning Process In Elmont Receive Rave Reviews

Pardon us for our continuing skepticism, but we've heard the talk, seen the plans, viewed the artists' renderings, and been courted by those seeking "four more years" many, many times before.

Don't get us wrong. We, too, applaud the plans to revitalize long-neglected Elmont. After all, as Elmont goes, so goes all of western Nassau.

We remain unconvinced, however, when "ideas" clearly designed to elicit community approval, if not applause from the peanut gallery -- such as "One idea that received applause from the audience was the removal of illegal apartments" -- are floated with little or no intention of effecting a result.

Truth is, with all the talk of "nail & mail" and increased fines, the proliferation of illegal accessory apartments continues to escalate, with no evidence that the Town, which has jurisdiction here (as in Building Department) is making anything more than a snake oil salesman's effort to beef up enforcement or impose the law of the land upon errant landlords.

Then there's the talk of Belmont's role -- via Governor Spitzer and the State of New York -- in reclaiming Elmont from the ash heap. Visions of a rejuvenated Belmont spawning the economic revival of greater Elmont and neighboring Floral Park.

To VLT or not to VLT? [Video Lottery Terminals.]

Well, the VLT might be a diversion for the gamer or gambler, but in terms of aiding and abetting Elmont's rebirth, it is more distraction than panacea.

Local civic and community leaders shouldn't be waylaid by visions of money flowing from slot machines as stimulus for the local economy.

We've seen those VLTs at Yonkers Reaceway and at Monticello Raceway, without much attendent benefit to either Main Street or back street in either community. VLTs may be the savior of the track, but beyond that, in terms broader initiatives, it is little more than window dressing.

Of course, we don't want to be total naysayers. After all, in Elmont, the forces of that "perfect storm" may well be in play at last. The joinder of county, town, community, and perhaps even the state, each realizing that its now or never, coming together to deal a blow to the blight, the economic decline, the unsightliness, and the anti-suburbanization of what is the gateway to Nassau County.

We certainly hope so!
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From The Three Village Times:

Full Speed AheadWith Elmont Visioning Plan
Plan Thus Far Receives Warm Welcome in Elmont
By Joe Rizza

When Elmont Coalition of Sustainable Development co-chair Sandra Smith asked the audience that had gathered in the Elmont Library Tuesday night for the visioning plan for Hempstead Turnpike in Elmont if Elmont was going in the right direction, she received applause. She asked the audience if the plan is what the residents want for Elmont and again she received applause.

At the community presentation on Tuesday evening, representatives from Saccardi & Schiff unveiled a concept for Hempstead Turnpike in Elmont that came from ideas and suggestions from community during the visioning meetings that were held as part of the visioning process, a partnership between Sustainable Long Island, Saccardi & Schiff and Elmont's many community organizations and residents.

Although the plan is in its infant stages, there seems to be a lot of opportunity for redevelopment and changes that will enhance the safety and aesthetic look of the turnpike to spawn economic growth in Elmont.

The plan focuses on all of Hempstead Turnpike in Elmont from Belmont Park on the west end to the Franklin Square boarder on the east end. Based on what was discussed Tuesday evening, it is believed that Belmont Park represents a big opportunity for the Elmont community, although what ends up happening within the park comes under the jurisdiction of New York State.

However, local elected officials such as Assemblyman Tom Alfano and Senator Craig Johnson have been lobbying for the communities near the park to have a say on how Belmont can benefit the community.

In terms of what is envisioned for the area around Belmont Park, the plan will focus on creating a gateway to Elmont and redevelopment around the park with the potential for a hotel/conference center and restaurants.

Another idea for the turnpike includes the building of a supermarket, which is something the community feels it needs. The plan envisions a 40,000-square foot supermarket on the southwest corner of Hempstead Turnpike and Elmont Road.

The plan also calls for a redesign of Hendrickson Park, redevelopment of Jamaica Square and the possibility of relocating the post office to make it more accessible. The plan also calls for the community use of the old Elmont Library.

Among some of the other ideas discussed for Hempstead Turnpike in Elmont are improving safety conditions by providing additional traffic lights, improving the turning condition from eastbound Hempstead Turnpike to southbound Meacham Avenue, provide additional bus stops and/or relocate bus stops, improve connection between the N6 and N2 buses at Meacham Avenue, provide additional pedestrian crossings and align crosswalks with public transportation.
The plan also calls for beautifying Hempstead Turnpike with landscaping, widening sidewalks, providing lampposts and garbage receptacles and improving/providing a landscaped buffer between roadways and buildings. One idea that received applause from the audience was the removal of illegal apartments.

Those who will be involved in the process, from local elected officials to community members to planners, know that this will be a long process; and ideas for funding for these initiatives will have to be sought, but Elmont now has the basis for a plan to improve its main business corridor.

Elmont Coalition of Sustainable Development co-chair Ed Ambrosino said the local elected officials will take off their political labels and work together to make the visions a reality.
Another meeting is expected to be held in the spring. Over the next two years, the goals will be to create a final vision plan and begin overall beautification efforts while working with municipalities such as the town, county and state.

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