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New grant to improve Oyster Bay business district

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Supervisor Joseph Saladino announced at a press conference on Oct. 23 that the town had received a $500,000 grant from State Sen. Carl Marcellino to continue making improvements to the hamlet of Oyster Bay’s historic downtown business district.

The Oyster Bay Downtown Improvement Project will extend streetscape and crosswalk work along Audrey Avenue to connect Fireman’s Field, Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park and the Western Waterfront to the hamlet’s main street. The funds were awarded to the town by the New York State Economic Development Fund.

“While discussions for this grant began earlier this year, paperwork in final pursuit of the grant was filed with the senator’s office within the last month or so,” said town spokeswoman Marta Kane. “Once this is all finalized during the winter months, we’ll begin the design phase, after which we will go into the next step in the process, which is the bid phase and contractor procurement.”

Colin Bell, the town’s deputy commissioner for the Department of Intergovernmental Affairs, said the funds would help continue a streetscaping project in the hamlet.

“We received some grant funding for this community about two years ago, and we made an application to the senator within the last six months,” Bell said. “He worked quickly to make it happen for us.”

The Oyster Bay Downtown Improvement Project includes the installation of decorative paver crosswalks, which will replace the existing painted crosswalks. The appearance of the paver crosswalks serves a dual purpose: continuing a “visual theme” in the downtown, while also creating a safety zone for pedestrians.

“The pavers will be installed along Audrey Avenue, near the gazebo,” said Rich LaMarca, president of the Oyster Bay Civic Association, “and since they’re brick pavers, it will provide a much better look for the downtown.”

The project will also provide new infrastructure for the bicycling community. Covered bike racks will be installed around the downtown area so cyclists can take a break from their rides to enjoy the sites of Oyster Bay.

“This infrastructure at Firemen’s Field and Theodore Roosevelt Park will develop a common-theme connection between those areas and Audrey Avenue,” LaMarca said.

Ultimately, the goal of the revitalization is to bring more visitors to the hamlet, Marcellino said. “We’re improving the quality of life for the people in the town, but we’re also improving the business community and the area as a whole.”

Marcellino said the revitalization project would attract more people to Oyster Bay to enjoy the town, its restaurants and its facilities. “It’s important that we maintain local business and local storefronts,” he said. “This is a destination town with a business community that is second to none.”

Ryan Schlotter, the incoming president of the Oyster Bay Chamber of Commerce, said he was appreciative of the town’s commitment to local business through the facilitation of the grant. He is also the co-owner of Oyster Bay Brewing Company.

“We see projects going on that increase the eye appeal of the town, and it puts us all on the same wavelength,” Schlotter said. “We want to bring people here for our businesses, and when the town backs us up and does the same, I think that’s a recipe for a good downtown area.”

LaMarca, who also sits on the chamber board, said he viewed the project as “a start to public investment in the Town of Oyster Bay. We’ve already seen new investment in businesses, and several new restaurants, and I expect we’ll see more investment on the part of all levels of government.”

The town anticipates construction of the project to begin in the spring of 2020.