Downtown Syosset will soon get a facelift in the form of a streetscape and walkability improvement project, according to Oyster Bay Town Councilman Chris J. Coschignano, who announced that the town has received a $1,260,704 federal Transportation Enhancements Program (TEP) grant administered by the New York State Department of Transportation.
"With this grant, residents can look forward to additional improved and signalized crosswalks; decorative lighting; green spaces; landscaping, including trees at the curb line, decorative planters and hanging pots; replacement of concrete sidewalks with brick pavers; bicycle lockers near the railroad station building; benches; trash receptacles and information kiosks," Coschignano said.
New York State Governor David Paterson recently announced the award of more than $81 million in federal funding to transportation projects throughout all regions of New York. These funds cover projects not eligible for traditional federal transportation funding like bike paths and historic preservation.
A total of 59 projects will be funded through the Transportation Enhancement Program (TEP), with some additional funds allocated through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Traditional TEP funds will provide close to $47 million for 34 projects, and ARRA funds will provide more than $34 million to another 25 TEP projects. The grants are expected to generate $217 million in statewide construction investment.
"These projects will make necessary improvements to our local walkways, bicycle paths and other transportation routes while spurring economic development and job creation," Governor Paterson said. "I thank President Obama and the entire New York State Congressional Delegation for working to ensure that transportation funds were included in the economic recovery package. New York is committed to using the federal resources at our disposal to put people back to work and ensure that our state provides safe and accessible travel beyond that provided by traditional highways and bridges."
For Syosset, this funding comes after many years of persistence from local officials, residents and community leaders.
"This project was one of the recommendations made in the Syosset Downtown Redevelopment & Revitalization Plan, which was initiated by Town Supervisor John Venditto, myself and our fellow town board members as part of the Vision 2020 Plan for the Town," Coschignano explained. "Working with a steering committee comprising dedicated volunteers who live and work in the community, we developed a plan that looks at every aspect of the downtown and outlines actions to develop the area's potential to become a thriving traditional downtown for the community.
"This project will provide both safety and aesthetic benefits to the downtown area," Coschignano stated. "By establishing a connecting pedestrian trail network within downtown Syosset, pedestrians will have a safer environment to access commercial areas for shopping and other businesses and to walk to and from the train station. This project will also soften the landscape, which currently is dominated by concrete, and make the downtown more attractive for pedestrians frequenting the area and those commuting on the railroad."
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer said: "Building and improving sidewalks, bike paths and pedestrian walkways will put thousands of New Yorkers to work, even while it creates more walkable communities. These projects, which were made possible by the Economic Recovery Act, will both beautify our neighborhoods, spur commerce and job creation and allow us to better interact with our neighbors and surroundings."
Coschignano is looking forward to implementing the projects. "My fellow town board members and I, along with the members of the Syosset Downtown Redevelopment & Revitalization Plan steering committee are very grateful to have been awarded this grant," Councilman Coschignano said. "We know how competitive the TEP process is, and this grant reinforces our belief that the benefits of this improvement project make it worthy of federal funding. I know the residents of Syosset will be looking forward, as I am, to seeing this project implemented and enjoying the enhanced safety and aesthetic dynamic it will bring to the downtown."
The Councilman noted that under the terms of the grant, the town will contribute $315,176. He added that solutions for the traffic flow and parking issues cited in the plan will be addressed in future grant projects and town capital funding initiatives.
"During these uncertain times, it is important that we don't lose sight of projects such as the Syosset streetscape, which will greatly improve the surrounding community with relatively little investment by the state," said Assemblyman Rob Walker. "When the governor can find the time and imagination to increase the state budget by $10 billion during the worst recession in my lifetime, it is nice to see that he is willing to direct money to Nassau County for transportation improvements. I believe this money will help spur economic development in and around Syosset, which is greatly needed during this economic downturn."