If They Can Do It In Patchogue, Why Not Hempstead Town?
The Incorporated Village of Patchogue, in Suffolk County, Town of Brookhaven, is poised to make a great comeback, its blighted downtown and broken Main Street not the vacant talk of revitaliztion -- so familiar to those of us who hail from Nassau County's forgotten South Shore (read as, the Town of Hempstead) -- but rather, the shovel-into-the-dirt kind of action that has brought the forces of village, county, town and private industry together to rebuild, re-energize, and re-create the suburban vision.
One project alone, in the hands and under the moniker of Downtown Patchogue Redevelopers, is "in the process of developing a mixed-use project which will include 250 rental apartment units, 32,000 sf of ground floor retail, 32,000 sf of second floor office and a 100 room limited service hotel."
Patchogue, no stranger to blight, brownfield, and the dismay of a downtown whose best day was thirty years ago, is fast becoming the little village (population, 11,500) that could. And Brookhaven, long associated with political corruption ("Crookhaven") and governmental malaise, is now taking a strident lead in bringing smart growth initiatives to the streets of its villages and hamlets.
They seem to have lost the fear of building vertically, of increasing density, of actually acquiescing to the will of the people (imagine that), demonstrating that a representative government, obliged to do more than offer broad platitudes and broken promises -- the stuff that the Town of Hempstead's faded "artists renderings" and hapless Urban Renewal Plans are made of --can actually accomplish something for the good of the community, and in this lifetime.
As Patchogue has taken the lead, we say that other municipalities, townships, and the county to the west should pull up their bootstraps, round up the wagons, and follow.
This little village along the shores of the Great South Bay is on the rise once again. [Why, it even has its own blog -- http://positivepatchogue.blogspot.com/.]
And what they're doing -- and, apparently, doing well -- in Patchogue should serve as impetus for others -- especially those who preside ("govern" would be a misnomer) over America's largest township -- to take heed and, yes, take action.
The road ahead may not always be easy, or, for that matter, smooth, but at least the governed and those who govern have begun the journey. Well, in Patchogue, anyway.
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From the Editorial Page of Newsday:
Solidarity in Patchogue
This unopposed election is a good sign
On the theory that people should have choices at the polls, this page normally frowns on uncontested elections. On Tuesday, however, Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri and the three trustees running on his Patchogue First ticket won re-election without opposition, and we're fine with that.
The reason it doesn't rankle is that Pontieri and his village board have been leading the way as a model for the revitalization of Long Island's downtowns, conquering even the suburban fear of taller structures. Their plans for shops, hotel rooms and residences at the village's main corner, anchored by a building as high as nine stories, would provoke outrage in many parts of Long Island. But Pontieri and the board have presented it so surefootedly that objections are scarce.
Patchogue, like all downtowns, has gone through tough times in the era of the suburban mall. Now it's coming back to life. Villagers like that new sense of optimism so much that no opponents surfaced - a first for Patchogue. The mayor says he actually missed the competition. "Elections require you to look at what you did and to answer to the public about what you're going to do," he says. But this year's election shows that the public knows very well what he's going to do - and approves enthusiastically.
The solidarity probably means that, of all the major proposals of regional significance for mixed-use development and downtown revitalization, the rebirth of Patchogue is likely to be the first to cross the finish line.
Copyright © 2008, Newsday Inc.