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County grant to fund façade improvements in Elmont

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Elmont will soon receive $150,000 to improve its business façades along Hempstead Turnpike as a winner of Nassau County’s first Transit-Oriented Development funding competition.

County Executive Laura Curran established the grant program with the Office of Community Development in October to support large-scale projects and promote development that maximizes the amount of residential, business and open space near public transportation hubs.

Elmont is one of seven municipalities to receive the grant, which the county receives from the federal government’s Community Development Block Grant Program each year. Other winners include the City of Long Beach; the villages of Hempstead, Farmingdale and Freeport; and Roslyn and Hicksville.

“Throughout the county, several communities have already championed and embraced our model of Nassau County as a place to ‘live, work [and] play’ with revitalized, walkable downtowns near transit,” Curran said in a statement. “With the growth of our Main Street business districts comes the need for pedestrian safety improvements, traffic calming, parking access and more, and I am proud to help ease these growing pains for several communities with these strategic investments.”

In Elmont, the $150,000 is to be used for commercial façade improvements as laid out in the 2008 Elmont Vision Plan. The plan was developed by community leaders, who worked with professional planners and government officials “to improve the suburban condition and quality of life.” It specified that beautification efforts should focus primarily on Belmont Park’s front facades along Hempstead Turnpike and Plainfield Avenue.

The planned façade enhancements are part of the Town of Hempstead’s larger revitalization project for Elmont, county officials explained, and are intended to compliment the development at Belmont Park, which the Vision Plan calls “the gateway” to Nassau County.

“Investing in beautifying this essential business corridor shows that Elmont and Nassau County are open for business, and displays our pride in the diverse community of entrepreneurs that form the bedrock of our local economy,” said County Legislator Carrié Solages, a Democrat from Valley Stream who represents Elmont.

Several area business owners are already renovating, according to Chamber of Commerce President Paul Sapienza. He agreed that beautification efforts should focus primarily on the businesses across from Belmont Park as its redevelopment project moves forward, saying, “I think that, although people commute from all over Elmont, the Cross Island Parkway,” which leads to Belmont, “is the biggest thoroughfare.”

But not all facades must look uniform, he said, and suggested that rather than improving the façades, which could “eat up the money pretty quickly,” the town could install lamp posts, brick walkways between businesses, or just “something to enhance the environment.”

Town officials expect to begin the design phase of the project within six months, with bidding and construction following soon after.