A new direction for Inwood?

the Town of Hempstead continues to plan, and listen to the public, regarding the process of “community visioning” to develop a comprehensive future outlook for the hamlet of Inwood.
The town continues to identify goals, objectives and strategies to address a variety of issues including economic development, housing options, community character, land uses, natural resources, community facilities and services, infrastructure and transportation to guide long-range decision-making that will affect growth and development in the Inwood area.
“We are hoping to achieve the community goals of a revitalization of Inwood,” Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray said. “We are optimistic that it will result in the same type of community involvement as the Elmont visioning has. We believe that this will have a positive impact on the quality of life of our local residents.”
Inwood is a census-designated place (CDP) in Nassau County with a population of 9,325, along with 3,041 households and 2,253 families residing in the CDP, according to the 2000 census. The racial makeup of the area is extremely diverse. Just over 53 percent of the people in the population are white; 25.87 percent are African-American; with slightly more than 15 percent from other races, including Native American, Asian and Pacific Islander. Slightly more than 26 percent are Hispanic or Latino of any race and 5.39 percent have a background from two or more races.
There are plans to revitalize the existing neighborhood by making it more retail-oriented. The main area of focus is for Sheridan Boulevard and Burnside Avenue to be the central spine of commercial activities. This would occur by rezoning a portion of Burnside Avenue into a business district and improving the streetscape on both streets. This would include fixing curbs and adding trash receptors, which would be funded by the county.
“We hope, by having local commercial property owners participate in the Town of Hempstead’s commercial rehabilitation façade program and streetscaping programs, that Inwood will see a beautification and revitalization of it’s business districts,” Murray said. “This will encourage both local and outside shopping in the area.”
Finding new ways to use the town marina is also a big part of the plan for Inwood. Murray hopes to expand the existing marina so it can accommodate more users by making it into a part recreation and part commercial area. The Town of Hempstead also wants to create a ferry or water taxi pier that would have restaurants which could bring more people and business to the area. “The marina area is not utilized enough to the maximum potential it could potentially have,” said Vince Ferrandino, principal of planning of Ferrandino & Associates Inc. “These ideas are something that Inwood could definitely pursue.” The Town of Hempstead also wants to develop the existing industrial area in Inwood into one of the largest employment centers within the town. There are hopes to develop distribution facilities in the industrial zones near Doughty Boulevard, Roger Avenue and Bayview Avenue. The town also plans to clean up and redevelop the area's brownfields, which are abandoned or underused industrial and commercial facilities. There are a number of them scattered throughout the commercial areas of Inwood, ranging from gas stations to dry cleaners, as well as the vacant land near the existing LILCO site on Sheridan Boulevard and the industrial zone north of Burnside Avenue and west of the Nassau Expressway.
Despite being part of the Five Towns, Inwood is one of the poorest areas of Nassau County. The median income for a household in the CDP, according to the 2000 census, was $41,334, and the median income for a family was $48,345. The per capita income for the CDP was $16,009. About 12.4 percent of families and 14.6 percent of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.4 percent of those under age 18 and 13.7 percent of those age 65 or over.
These statistics are proof of the need for more affordable housing within the community. An investigation is currently being conducted to assess the possibility of converting or re-using vacant and under-utilized buildings for residential use, including senior housing, in order to accomplish this. “We want to start small, not getting too complex right now,” Ferrandino said. “This investigation would not adversely impact the residential neighborhood.”
Overall, there have been positive reactions to the proposals to change the future of Inwood, but some in the community are still worried about certain aspects of the plan. “I am happy with the ideas that the Town of Hempstead came up with,” said Greg Nunn, president of the Inwood Community Group. “The only thing that many people are upset about is not knowing the rezoning of the area because it changes from block to block.”
Roy Meserole, chairman of the planning and zoning committee of the Inwood Civic Association, feels that there needs to be change in the community, but agrees that rezoning may cause problems. “There were not too many objectionable things that we could see,” Meserole said. “But it’s also important not to re-zone because we need affordable housing, and there is only so much land that the town has to work with.” The Town of Hempstead is looking forward to a brighter future for Inwood in the coming years. “The best thing about visioning is that it is a living document that will change as it becomes reality,” Murray said. “There are usually short, mid and long-term goals. In fact, we have already had the Long Island Bus address route changes to accommodate transportation goals identified by residents at initial visioning meetings. We are looking to community residents to tell us where they believe we should concentrate our energies and hope to have a good idea as to where to begin after the initial process is concluded sometime next spring.”
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