Written by Dagmar Fors Karppi Friday, 06 November 2009 00:00
“The evening was a fundraiser for Mr. Suozzi. My goal in going there was to speak with him about his 90/10 plan, which is to encourage cool, walkable communities,” said Mr. Gallego.
Nassau County Executive Thomas R. Suozzi has formed the “90/10 Coalition,” to develop a plan for “New Suburbia,” in which 10 percent of the county will be targeted for smart growth. These areas would be re-imagined to create vibrant, attractive downtowns, with shops, restaurants, businesses, parks, and housing all within easy access to public transportation and major new redevelopment at the projects sites. For example, potential “cool downtowns” are: Elmont, Village of Hempstead, Village of Farmingdale, Hicksville and the City of Glen Cove.
Mr. Gallego said, “I encouraged him to look at our hamlet. When you see what is Oyster Bay and that it is in the process of being revitalized, it is walkable and has mass transit. I asked him to help us, to help me help the community. I went there lobbying for his support for the hamlet.
“He was very kind and he said he would be more than happy to help. He said to get in touch with his tourism team. He was very receptive,” said Mr. Gallego.
“I am meeting with Legislator Judy Jacobs on Nov. 12, with the same agenda, to ask for her help,” he added.
While asking for help, Mr. Gallego and the chamber are already working on the issues themselves. “We have to do it. I’m not looking at it in relation to going to any political party. I’m looking at how we can do it and seeing who can help us.
“I welcome the Oyster Bay Civic Association and the Main Street Association to serve on a visionary committee and maybe adopt this 90/10 plan with the citizen’s agreement and not to have it on the launching pad for the next 10 years,” he said.
Mr. Gallego said, “Every year we have been coming out with ideas and this time we are executing them. We are trying to implement them.”
The current project is very exciting. They have been working on revitalizing the Pine Hollow entrance into the hamlet. “The Oyster Bay Chamber of Commerce along with business owner John DeBellis has reached out to the town and through Kevin Hanifan, we have an entire landscaping plan for Pine Hollow, South Street, Audrey Avenue and East Main Street.
“John DeBellis recently put up a fence on his Pine Hollow Road property. People may have noticed that the Leatherman condemned building is down. Mr. DeBellis and the other folks on Pine Hollow want to partner with town government and any civic group - to beautify the area.
“John Delillo, chamber treasurer, took pictures of the blacktop sidewalk in Pine Hollow and we sent the pictures and letters to the town in hopes that they will come in and pave those streets. We want them to remove the blacktop and put in a nice sidewalk all the way to the Oyster Bay Animal Hospital.
“The chamber has created a tree-scape of the town with Dottie Simons of Dodds & Eder and Carmine Pirolo of White Birch Designs working with Keith Cromwell, who is with the town’s tree division.
“That shows the chamber is not sitting back, but is actively doing things,” said Mr. Gallego.
He was cautious in talking about the project since it involved some tree removal where the sidewalk is being raised by tree roots. Businesspeople may have to pay for paving the areas in front of their businesses. [The town customarily charges homeowners for the sidewalk repair done after trees are removed.] “The work will be done judiciously,” he said.
Another element of the project, he said, was that there needs to be a consistency in the trees planted so that they need similar care and will have similar growth patterns. “We are carefully planning the work,” he said.
The plan for lower South Street, from Audrey Avenue to Hamilton Avenue, will have three trees on each side of the road alternately placed: for instance on South Street in front of the Happy Garden; and at Lourdes’ Place across the street. On East Main Street, from South Street to White and Church streets there will be a tree at 21 East Main Street, the former Bodega; and one at 33 East Main Street, the Attic Door; and one on the opposite side of the street at 12 East Main Street, Gooseberry Grove.
On Audrey Avenue, a tree will be added at 71 Audrey Avenue, by the Travelsavers building.
Two trees will be removed from East Main Street and replanted with trees that match the others being planted – at Wild Honey (1 East Main) and Subway (19 East Main).
“It’s all in the planning stage. I’m trying to help this town live up to its potential… and asking for help from everyone. We want energy and ideas from anyone. This is not a we project, it is an us project,” said Mr. Gallego. He is retiring from the position as chamber president but will have a new title to cover the revitalization work he is spearheading with the chamber.