Nassau County received a federal grant to fund Transit Supported Development to stimulate development at or near a train station, if warranted. Parsons Brinckerhoff and Cameron Engineering were hired to seek projects that would result in a transformation of a business district in close proximity to a train station.
On Oct. 25, Nassau County invited civic associations throughout Nassau County to work with their neighboring civics to develop a plan to improve the business districts at or near their train stations.
On Thursday, the North and Central Merrick Civic Associations met with representatives from the South Merrick Community Civic Association, Merrick Park Homeowner’s Association, Old Lindenmere Civic Association and Merrick Chamber of Commerce to discuss potential improvements.
The following criteria must be met for projects to be selected:
- Physical Suitability - The right built environment can make a station area an easier place to implement livable development.
- Public Sector Readiness - Having the right regulatory framework in place within the station area is an important factor in both the feasibility and potential timeframe for implementing transit-supported development.
- Developer Interest - Most development is done by the private sector and with tax incentives and zoning changes.
- Leadership in Place -The success of a project is believed to be dependent on the ability of people to organize and mobilize in support of livable development.
After conferring Thursday, the following ideas were brought to the table:
- Pedestrian Bridge Over Sunrise Highway - Attendees agreed that a pedestrian bridge should be built over Sunrise Highway at Merrick Avenue. Sunrise Highway is a six-lane highway separating south Merrick from the business district of Merrick. It is a dangerous intersection that has seen several fatalities over the years. Mark and Berta suggested that a pedestrian overpass bridging south Merrick with the business district would increase pedestrian traffic on Merrick Avenue. It is my belief that a pedestrian crossing would also benefit the south side of Sunrise Highway, making properties on the south side much more attractive to businesses. It would entice businesses that profit from foot traffic to shop on Sunrise Highway, an area that has only been able to attract businesses that attract motorists.
- Mixed-Use Development - We all agreed that Merrick's biggest problem with development in our business area is Hempstead's archaic codes that limit growth. The Town of Hempstead would need to change its code to allow mixed-use development in our business area and help preserve the suburban quality of our residential areas. The group agreed that we need small apartment buildings (no higher than six stories) that would provide housing for our young adults at prices the market would bear. Young adults who work in the city have very little housing available on Long island that is near the railroad. This type of development helps local businesses thrive as residents shop local and take pride in their community. Villages that allow mixed-use development do not have many empty-storefronts. It also helps keep our young children home in the communities in which they grew up, residing in apartments with rents that the average Merokean resident could bear. Such development also provides housing for seniors who want to not only live close to their families, but live in an area in which it is easy to shop by foot. Commercial taxes often make business development in Merrick cost-prohibitive. We discussed the possibility of the County's and Town's Industrial Development Agency provide tax incentives to attract new business. However, it must be carefully weighed against the amount of property taxes that residential homeowners would lose as our commercial base helps keep our home's property taxes down. Randy Shotland, President of the Merrick Chambers, believed that apartments on the upper levels of the storefronts would benefit the community. He suggested that the northern border of the Merrick train station be developed with shops that have apartments on top of them. We agreed that this would invite pedestrian traffic to this otherwise unattractive section of the train station.
- Parking Solutions - Randy complained that the business district of Merrick did not have sufficient parking. Some discussion revolved around whether building a two-story parking garage in the industrial section just north of the train station would help bring additional parking to this area. However, Martin Volk from the Merrick Park Homeowners Association said that his civic would not support it. Randy suggested and we agreed that signs on Merrick that pointed to the public parking in the rear of the buildings would let people know that there is parking in the back of the stores and help attract people to shop in Merrick.
What are your thoughts on the ideas mentioned above? Tell us in the comments below.
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