Written by Carol Frank Friday, 11 June 2010 00:00
There is still time to chime in with your ideas and suggestions about how to revitalize Middle Neck Road in the Old Village. Mayor Ralph Kreitzman said during a board meeting, which sought public input, “Sometimes ‘old’ has a negative connotation, but in the case of the Old Village, it denotes character and history.”
Victor and Robert Dadras of Dadras Architects who are leading the study process stated that the village has many ingredients to ensure the success of revitalizing its downtown because it has a historic flavor, is blessed with green spaces, is walkable and through their experience with the focus groups that have participated already, has a motivated citizenry.
At this latest meeting, many ideas proposed in focus groups were reinforced. There appears to be consensus on the matter of improving traffic safety. One idea being floated is to make Middle Neck Road one lane of traffic each way due to the fact that it becomes quite narrow north of the intersection at Old Mill Road. The only other way to expand the width of the road would be to eliminate parking on Middle Neck Road, an idea that would probably raise the ire of merchants who rely on customers being able to make quick stops.
Another new idea to improve the aesthetic of the street would be to plant wire friendly trees, other than Bartlett pear trees, which have a tendency to split and shear off over time. Some species of trees, such as sycamore and maple, are too big and close to power lines to grow into their natural habit. They have been pruned to such an extreme that their natural grace and beauty is severely stunted.
Maureen Klein, who 30 years ago worked to establish the islands and plantings, suggested more attractive refuse containers. She also pointed to cities like Toronto that have invested in sidewalk cleaning equipment that can deftly vacuum away litter.
Some reinforced the idea of less gaudy signage. Robin Gordon said, “And what about Raindew...great store, horrible sign.”
Many people again spoke positively about making space for a weekly farmer’s market in the summer months.
Leon Korobow disagreed with some of the terminology being used. He objects to words like “tired” or “in decline” being used to describe the Old Village. “I don’t see us in decline...I don’t think we need to attract more people here or strive for more density. I don’t think that’s what we want.”
This elicited some discussion with Robert Dadras saying that in fact in prior meetings people had spoken positively about the scale of the village and the desire to keep the small town feel.
According to the mayor, “There are many pieces to the puzzle. We expect to get a report from Dadras on the visioning process by the middle of July. They will revise their preliminary report for us. In addition, we expect an Old Village/New Main Street draft strategy by the middle of August. In the meantime, we will be working on facade and streetscape guidelines and will make any improvements we can make.”
The village website has a link to the Old Village/New Main Street visioning as well. Visit www.greatneckvillage.org.