On a windy Monday afternoon on the Village Green, Mayor George Starkie joined with Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi and Legislator Dave Mejias to announce the start of a series of meetings to discuss the future of the village.
Village Trustees Bill Barrett and Ralph Ekstrand, Legislator Dave Mejias, Village Mayor Butch Starkie, County Executive Tom Suozzi and Village Trustees Cheryl Parisi and Pat Christiansen. Photo by Nick Parisi.
The plan, which is aimed at making the Village of Farmingdale to be sustainable now and for generations to come, involves a downtown community that will attract young college graduates and businesses.
"The Village of Farmingdale will not take this economic crisis lying down," said Mayor Starkie. "Members of the board and residents here will work together to make sure our village is the best and most desired place to live in this county."
Suozzi said the focus should be on smart development that "helps to make this place better than it is now."
To do that, Suozzi said we should keep Nassau County exactly the way it is, for the most part and seek out areas to grow in a way that would expand the tax base and attract young residents.
"Downtown Farmingdale is the perfect place to look," he added.
Suozzi mentioned the concept of Cool Downtowns, which entails multi-story buildings where people can live, work, shop, dine and recreate all in a downtown area within a walkable area.
"What does that do for us?" Suozzi said. "Well that gets young people to move here and it grows in a way that makes our life better. It's got to be the whole community of Farmingdale getting on board together as a team with the help of professionals to say 'this makes sense for the long term.'"
After input from the Downtown Revitalization Committee, the village board unanimously decided to appoint the firm Saccardi & Schiff to complete a six-month Downtown Impact Study. Legislator Mejias and Senator Kemp Hannon secured $100,000 in grant funding for this project. The village will pay the remainder of the $125,000 bid.
"This idea of new suburbia is going to happen somewhere and we want it to happen right here in downtown Farmingdale," Mejias said. "If you're from Farmingdale, you never really leave Farmingdale. There are people that have been here for generations and we want our kids to stay here going forward."
Mejias stressed the importance of involvement of residents in this process.
"We want to make sure with this process that the planners, and the government and the people decide the future of Farmingdale together," he added. "This new suburban model that will preserve our quality of life and at the same time bring businesses into our downtown, bring young people into our downtown and make this a thriving community once again is what we're trying to do."
At the press conference, Mayor Starkie mentioned the importance of attaining hard numbers to ensure that the infrastructure can support the growth.
"We're going to get a road map on how to construct and remake Farmingdale and we will be the coolest downtown, I promise you that," Starkie added. "It's a real team effort and everyone is welcome to participate. This is probably the most exciting thing that has happened since my tenure as a trustee and now as the mayor that we actually see light at the end of the tunnel."
Village residents and Concerned Citizens Association of Farmingdale Vice President Chuck Gosline said "good things are finally starting to happen on LI from a long-range planning perspective."
"The mayor and Farmingdale Village Board have been working hard toward creating a plan to revitalize the village downtown," he added. "These economic times call for careful planning and prudent spending. The dialogue has now begun. I have attended and participated in all three of these efforts and I am encouraged that they are all encouraging broad input. Our civic group will continue to participate as we look forward to the resulting plan/suggestions and then to an implementation program for LI communities."
Village Trustee Cheryl Parisi advises interested residents to visit www.farmingdalevillage.com and click on the Constant Contact link to receive updated emails on this project.