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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.

Local Resident December 10, 2012 at 01:35 PM
Commom sense so early in the morning is refreshing, especially on a Monday.
mdhlaw December 10, 2012 at 03:06 PM
Port Washington has charm and character the way it is. It doesn't need to hand over the keys to developers (generally contractors with delusions of grandeur) to destroy the look and feel of Main Street for the sake of alleged "progress".
Local Resident December 10, 2012 at 03:27 PM
It would actually be handing the keys and checkbook (in the form of federal grants) to special interests and to a group once described as a community-minded-civic-group.
Donna Rice December 10, 2012 at 03:37 PM
If the rezoning goes through, RFMBPW could be the sponsor of federal grants in the millions of dollars. How would they then spend that money, well right now they are spending 60% of the money they take in (in contributions and grants the TNH has given them) on salaries. Check out the people who sit on their board - there may be some conflicts of interest there. The RFMBPW has no business trying to rezone OUR Main Street.
Local Resident December 10, 2012 at 04:25 PM
yes, the irony surrounding RFMBPW is astounding... and disappointing.
Port Citizen December 10, 2012 at 04:28 PM
EDUCATION ON THE ISSUE - ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL. Before anyone makes a decision, make sure you've seen/heard both sides on this one. See this link, which was on the Port Parents yahoo site today: http://www.portwashingtonresident.com/ It's very informative of what the change of code would/could mean to our town!
Local Resident December 10, 2012 at 08:40 PM
In the paragraph below, replace New Cassel with Port Washington: "The town is working to restore and beautify New Cassel's downtown area. The overlay district establishes requirements designed to protect residents' quality of life," said Troiano. "This is an initiative that was supported by the New Cassel community as evidenced by petitions received by the town board. I'm delighted that the town listened and voted unanimously to establish the New Cassel Zoning Overlay District." http://www.antonnews.com/westburytimes/2007/01/05/news/townapproves.html Sound familiar? And look at what this type of Overlay District got the residents of New Cassel. Welcome to the future of Main Street should this proposal be adopted.
Donna Rice December 10, 2012 at 08:54 PM
See pictures of New Cassel on the Patch at: http://portwashington.patch.com/blog_posts/tis-the-season-to-love-our-town Did not revitalize anything, the retail stores are completely empty!!
Donna Rice December 10, 2012 at 09:18 PM
Here is another interesting article - Pay to Play http://newyorklibertyreport.com/?p=7765
Bryan Jay December 11, 2012 at 01:08 PM
I cannot tell you how happy I am to see some good clear honest facts presented here. The New Cassel example is spot on and demonstrates what our Main Street will look like if this comes through. Thank the Lord (or Al Gore) for the age of the internet which provides us with all the research resources we need. "Dina" needs to recuse herself, and RFMBPW needs to be reigned in, or at least recognized to be an extension of the TONH offering them a seemingly neutral platform to spew their agendas. Let us not be fooled by them and understand that they are in essence funded by the TONH. In addition, you have "Dina's" husband as a board member there. This group started out led by Myron Blumenfiled to fight the incinerator and improve the landscape around Port Washington. They have been morphed into a non neutral entity, which should be "outed" in the press, so that poor unsuspecting people stop funding them.
Bryan Jay December 11, 2012 at 01:10 PM
I neglected to mention that Myron Blumenfield is also staunchly against this rezoning, which says quite a lot to me, and should to all residents in this town.
Love My Town December 11, 2012 at 01:39 PM
Good Morning all. I just got the lasted email blast from Residents for Miss-representing Port Washington. They were lamenting over the Shared Visioning Process in 2005. No one then was talking about rezoning Main Street. It was about Artist spaces, and shared use. But we really need to stay in the present. 12 bullet points, all stated as facts. No Miss-representations. Or are there? They use CAPS to emphasize that there is no change in the height restrictions at 40'. Sorry, § 70-142. Height. C. In the case of a property located within the Port Washington Business Overlay District and in full conformity with the standards of Article XXC the maximum height may be increased to 45 feet for a peaked roof in accordance with § 70-140. when authorized by the Town Board after a public hearing. In no case shall a building in excess of three floors be permitted. Another point they love to brag about is the 1 space per apartment is required. What's missing from that statement? The required Business parking in the current code. The new regs. would allow owners to share their required on site needs with the Public Lots behind them, or through agreement with an adjoining property. There is not enough space now, what are we going to share? All of the other points they call for do not require an overlay district to achieve. Their proposal calls for trash management, this RFMPW proposal is the trash that is blowing down Main.
Bryan Jay December 11, 2012 at 01:42 PM
Absolutely right!!! Excellent points!
Bryan Jay December 11, 2012 at 01:43 PM
The other stuff RFMBPW is shoveling, is great on your garden beds in the Spring!
Local Resident December 11, 2012 at 01:54 PM
I do find it absolutely incredible how many people continue to be snowed by RFMBPW and how much trust this organization has within the community. They are about to totally change the aesthetic of Main Street, that results in more residents, more traffic, and more parking problems. Yet, the majority of the population has its head in the sand, supports them, and is going to allow this to happen. Most concerning, many residents blindly follow whatever RFMBPW says. This is all being done under the guise of "beautification". They continue to say that the opposition has a biased view and is distributing misinformation. That is the proverbial "pot calling the kettle black." All information is biased towards whoever is presenting the information...so stop misleading the public, call rezoning what it is: a money grab. This stopped being about beautification of Main Street a long time ago.
Love My Town December 11, 2012 at 02:06 PM
The vast majority of Port has no idea of what is about to happen. You are right, Local Resident, that the members of RF Miss-representing BPW don't understand what it is they are supporting or asking for. At the ToNH meeting one of the Co-presidents of residents called for the burying of electric lines as the individual projects on Main Street happen. Kaiman had to correct and inform him that it doesn't work that way. The point is that even their leadership doesn't have a clear understanding of what they are demanding.
Donna Rice December 11, 2012 at 02:43 PM
Also keep in mind that the RFMBPW tried to push a parking garage on Port Washington until they saw the backlash from it and reversed course. Maybe they are not as in touch with the people of Port Washington as they think. Could they be pushing their own agenda for some reason? As soon as they took money from the Town of North Hempstead, they were beholden to them.
Local Resident December 12, 2012 at 05:35 AM
WOW...Councilwoman DeGiorgio actually abstained from a vote that directly affects her town and constituents, and let the other Board Members approve a proposal that has nothing to do them. Whether you agree with her views on rezoning or not, her job is to represent us. We effectively had no representation. She should have voted, and lived with the consequences of that vote. She was elected to do a job, and tonight, not only did she completely disregard over 600 signatures on a petition not in support of the proposal, she completely disregarded the concerns of the many people who spoke out in person against the proposal. TONIGHT SHE FAILED MISERABLY TO PERFORM HER JOB AS OUR ELECTED REPRESENTATIVE. THANK YOU.
Local Resident December 12, 2012 at 06:13 AM
Also deserving of thanks are the Town Council Members who after not uttering one word, asking one question and not voicing one concern over the course of two Town Hearings, voted to approve (without Dina of course) the proposal. They managed to stay awake for most of the meeting, but I did see one's head bob on multiple occassions and one had a sliver of drool from his lip to his tie, and I am not sure he was even asleep. Not going to name names, but he was in the center seat. Remember to tell your dry cleaner about that stain. As I left Town Hall, I noticed a line forming next door at the Building Department. Could Owner's actually have drawings and plans ready to go in for mixed-use applications? Hope they can check the status of my kitchen faucet replacement permit that has been in limbo for 10 months.
Local Resident December 12, 2012 at 06:18 AM
It was a RFMBPW Trifecta: Germain / Brackett / Model Blocks Starting to feel like "1984" and big brother is watching me.
jonathan winant December 12, 2012 at 10:22 AM
Rezoning proposal is a lot of s--t because some where back in time zoning laws were changed to avoid building any more tall mixed use buildings. Why was it changed? No mone has ever discussed this matter in the media or at the very poorly run rezoning meetings. Look up and down main street and just off of Belleview Avenue and you will find buildings which are three and four stories with commercial/ residential units. Look at the Sannards Bldg. just east of the train station or the building housing the "Dolphin Book Store" The building housing "Yo Yo Yougurt" The building with the fix it shop Corner building at Haven Ave. We are in for the rudest of awakenings should the rzoning proposal go through and if wee do in fact see major construction projects follow. Think traffic is bad nowe wait and see what happens when roads have to be closed for construction.
jonathan winant December 12, 2012 at 10:24 AM
sorry for the grammar problems
Local Resident December 12, 2012 at 11:41 AM
Welcome to the rude awakening...rezoning proposal went through despite an OVERWHELMING MAJORITY OF LOCAL RESIDENTS AGAINST IT. RFMBPW once again trotted out their chairman, co-president, secretary and a few others to share the same garbage they have selling to the Port community for a year. Your right, it is a rude awakening. We can only hope those residents who blindly follow and support RFMBPW will wake up and finally realize that this organization has betrayed their trust and needs to be disbanded. They are an absolute joke and have no business calling themselves a civic group. Oh, and to reiterate...our local councilwoman thought it was best that she abstain from the vote to avoid any appearance of a conflict-of-interest. Last night's actions did nothing the erase any appearance of conflicts, in fact it may have done the opposite. She should have voted...whether it was for or against...she has a duty to fulfill as our representative. She had the "guts" to write letters to the Port News and to run the rezoning meetings in full support of the rezoning proposal. She had the "guts" to aggressively question those who opposed the plan while she sat there quietly as RFMBPW said the same thing over and over. She should have had made her vote and lived with its outcome. Our local representative should not have left it to the other Board Members to decide what is best for our community. This was a complete dereliction of duty.
Local Resident December 12, 2012 at 11:51 AM
One more thing. A member of RFMBPW in support of rezoning actually stood up and made the comment that if there was a vote of Port residents, that she actually thought most would agree that the new developments in New Cassel looks nice and be appropriate on Main Street. And this is the group that many local residents BLINDLY follow and give money to...and this is the group who it now appears will be making the planning / zoning decisions that effect Port Washington in the future. Its now very questionable if we can rely on our councilwoman to perform her duties.
R Miller December 12, 2012 at 11:57 AM
I am vanilla to this issue because I think even with the rezoning not much is going to happen just for the future buildings must have onsite parking. So realistically what is going to be built? As for the Dolphin Bookstore that building is in the Village of Baxter Estates where TONH has no jurisdiction. As for the other existing buildings that are mixed use buildings they all predate zoning in this area and for the most part are prewar. So to sum up I really see nothing will really change. I think a more effective use of time is to revamp the building department so it is not so cumbersome and adversarial for anyone who wants to get a permit especially the simple ones like a fence, patio, walkway, dormer, etc.
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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