Glen Cove’s downtown has thriving businesses, lush greenery, and string lights that blanket evening shoppers in a soft, warm glow. Although the ambiance, the diverse businesses and the Downtown Sounds summer concert series already attract visitors from other parts of the North Shore, the city is asking community members what improvements they’d like to see in the downtown area.
The survey, which is accepting responses until Sept. 14, will be part of the city’s grant application for the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative, which launched in 2016. The program, led by the Department of State, has awarded some $700 million to 69 communities. It has also contributed to the creation of over 3,000 new housing units. Similarly, NY Forward, established in the 2019 budget has awarded $100 million to 24 communities in its initial round. Both initiatives are designed to generate investment, with every dollar committed estimated to spur an additional $3 of investments.
To apply for the grant, municipalities throughout the state submit applications, which include community feedback from the Regional Economic Development Council, in the hope of transforming downtown neighborhoods into vibrant communities where the next generation of New Yorkers will want to live, work and raise families.
John Robinson, a masseur with Glen Cove Massage, said he hoped to see a designated year-round, community-oriented space for the marketing of local produce and products, which he feels would uphold the spirit of local farmers markets.
Katrina Michelle, a holistic psychotherapist and the founder of the Curious Spirit, said she hoped to see a common area for people to meet, which she described as being surrounded by nature.
“A way to support people in their mental health is more community,” Michelle said. “Outside of getting professional help, you need a community that you have an ongoing relationship with.”
Such a space would be optimal for people who have just moved to the area, Michelle said, as opposed to meeting at a business-like Starbucks where there is the expectation to buy something.
Ann Fangmann, executive director of Glen Cove’s Community and Development Agency and the city’s Industrial Development Agency, said the city previously applied for the state’s NY Forward Initiative. After reviewing the application, the state suggested that the city apply to the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, because it is a larger municipality. The NY Forward program is meant to serve smaller communities and support local economies that often have a different feel and focus than larger urban centers.
“We’re looking at our application from last year and making some updates,” Fangmann said. “We’re waiting to receive some additional feedback, both internally and from the public. A lot of the projects and ideas are things that have been spoken about for years here at City Hall and amongst the different downtown stakeholders. A lot of it builds on past planning efforts, and input that we’ve received for many years. When we put in our application last year, we felt that we had many years’ worth of planning studies and input to draw from.”
Mayor Pamela Panzenbeck said that one of the city’s priorities is to improve the downtown’s sidewalks. Repairs need to continue, she said, to make the area more pedestrian-friendly.
Jocelyn Wenk, grant administrator for the city’s Community and Development Agency, said some of what was suggested last year involved trying to expand the existing business mix in the downtown, and to fill some of the vacant storefronts with new businesses. There were also suggestions to work with existing businesses to increase their hours, and find ways to bring new businesses to the area. Streetscaping improvements were also proposed last year, including more trees along sidewalks, as well as beautification projects — the addition of sculptures, murals, and a performing arts theater.
In a news release, Gov. Kathy Hochul said that the downtown revitalization and NY Forward programs have created a wave of revitalization that is sweeping across the state.
“The programs are not only reinvigorating downtowns, but they are also making our regions and the state as a whole a world-class destination for businesses, families and tourists,” Hochul said. “The programs are fulfilling the original vision for the DRI of creating a critical mass of vibrant downtowns of all shapes, sizes and characters in each region to entice businesses to invest and locate in New York State.”
Comments about the future of the city’s downtown can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com on or before Sept. 14.