After a challenging 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic, Lynbrook and East Rockaway officials and civic leaders are looking toward a 2021 full of projects and goals.
Lynbrook officials anticipate the completion of several projects in the village this year, including new private residential developments.
“Obviously we would like to see things get back to normal after the pandemic and restore vibrancy to our downtown, our businesses, our schools and our social activities,” Mayor Alan Beach said. “We also want to continue the effort to enhance the beauty of our village and bring in additional businesses. We want the rest of the Island to know Lynbrook is open for business.”
Beach said he believed many of the safety and sanitary practices that have been instituted during the pandemic should continue after it, such as frequent hand washing to stop the spread of germs.
One major project that Beach said village officials are excited to see completed in the new year is the 80-unit, $24 million Tudor-style Cornerstone at Yorkshire apartment complex, which is being built at the site of the former Capri Lynbrook Motor Inn. For decades, local officials tried to get rid of the much-maligned motel. In June it was finally razed by a private developer to make way for the new complex. Beach said the project was “moving smoothly,” and should be completed by the fall.
Farmingdale-based Terwilliger & Bartone Properties is constructing the complex, and developer Anthony Bartone and Beach each received a Smart Growth Award from Vision Long Island in August for the project. VLI is a Northport-based company that promotes downtown redevelopment, and the awards are given to projects that the organization believes are crucial to the revitalization of downtowns across Long Island, while increasing the density, and by extension, economic viability of local communities.
“Construction at the Cornerstone is progressing on schedule,” Bartone said. “The structural concrete podium deck was completed [on Dec. 28], and wood framing [began on Jan. 4]. . . . We intend to have the project complete by the end of 2021 and have our first residents move in.”
Another project that should begin in 2021 is an 18-unit condominium complex at 161 Union Ave., where a sushi restaurant now operates. The village board approved the plan last month, but developers must receive zoning and other variance approvals before moving forward. Beach said it was too early to give a project timeline, because it was contingent on further approvals.
Village officials, a developer and the owner of the former Mangrove Feather factory in downtown Lynbrook, which has been vacant for many years, have also been in talks about potentially building a residential complex there.
“There are ongoing discussions between the various parties, but I remain hopeful that there will be some movement on this in 2021,” Beach said. “It will be a great day for the village when this structure is rehabilitated and improvements are made on this site, which sits at the heart of our downtown.”
Since 2017, representatives of the Garden City-based Breslin Realty Corp. have negotiated with building owner Barry Singer to purchase the property to redevelop it into a complex with 102 one-bedroom apartments and 111 parking spaces, but they have yet to finalize a deal.
Greis Park will also start to look different. The Amityville-based LandTek Group finished installing $1.3 million artificial-turf fields at the park late last year, and Beach said that village officials are looking to make other changes.
Beach said he is also working with Long Island Rail Road officials to enhance the station under the trestle after a $17.9 million overhaul of its upper level was completed in October. Additionally, town, village and county roads are slated to be repaired, a new outdoor clock will be installed at Five Corners Park, at Merrick Road and Broadway, and a “pocket” park will be built in front of the Citibank on Merrick Road. Beach said he also hoped to bring back the village’s Oktoberfest celebration in the fall, if coronavirus restrictions are lifted.
In East Rockaway
East Rockaway Mayor Bruno Romano said that 2020 brought many obstacles amid the pandemic, but he was hopeful to complete much-needed infrastructure projects this year.
It was “a tough year,” he said of 2020. “Our goals yearly are to improve our infrastructure. Our roads are constantly in need of repair, and our focus will be on road maintenance. At the moment, the board members and myself have not discussed any other potential projects for our village.”
Romano said the board has not considered any long-term safety procedures after the coronavirus pandemic lets up, but he said the Fire Department and other emergency personnel have changed certain safety policies to deal with the risk of Covid-19, and he anticipated those changes would remain long after the virus is gone or managed. He added that deep-cleaning procedures and glass panels would likely stay as well.
Romano said the coronavirus had slowed the Living with the Bay initiative, which was undertaken by the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery. LWTB is a state project, started after Hurricane Sandy, to improve storm resiliency along Mill River, which runs from Hempstead Lake south to Hewlett Bay. The project will include construction of a bulkhead at East Rockaway Junior-Senior High School where the property meets Mill River, along with drainage pipes that will run under the athletic fields. The bulkhead, school officials have said in the past, would reduce flooding at the school. Romano noted that the project has been delayed because of the virus, and he was uncertain when it would be completed.
Romano added that he planned to meet soon with village board members to discuss their plans for the coming year.
“My colleagues and I will be sitting down to discuss any events and projects for 2021,” he said. “Unfortunately, we’re at the mercy of the status of the coronavirus. We are and will be extremely careful with planning any events until we are certain that the coronavirus is under control.”