Facade program to get boost in Mineola

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Mineola Boulevard is the first thoroughfare to get a facelift through Mineola's facade improvement program. (Photo by Noah Manskar)

The Village of Mineola is looking to put more cash behind an effort to make over its downtown business district.

The Village Board voted Wednesday to apply for $533,000 in federally funded Community Development Block Grants to continue its plan to fix up storefronts and streets in the downtown area.

Some $250,000 of that would be a boost to the village’s “facade improvement program,” an effort started about a year ago to give storefronts near the Long Island Rail Road station a unified look, said Tom Savino of Vision Accomplished, a consultant for the village.

“This funding is literally changing the face of the village,” Mayor Scott Strauss said Wednesday.

Since its inception last year, it has has revamped six downtown storefronts along Mineola Boulevard using an existing pool of about $300,000 in block grant funding, Savino said.

About 60 village businesses are interested and about 20 are in the pipeline for renovations, he said, with Main Street stores to receive the next facelifts. The program covers up to 75 percent of the cost of redoing storefronts according to designs created by a village committee.

The program’s goal is make the downtown area, the target of a decade-long revitalization effort, less busy and more attractive to customers and new businesses, village officials have said.

To that end, Mineola is also seeking $233,000 in grant funding for new signs to create a “sense of place” for the downtown, Savino said. Another $50,000 grant would pay to install new curb cuts throughout the village to make it more handicap-accessible, he said.

Mineola pays Savino, a former deputy village clerk, $75,000 annually to manage the facade program. He’s done similar projects in Westbury and Farmingdale.

The village usually doesn’t get every dollar it seeks through the grants, which are funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and administered by Nassau County.

But the facade program alone could turn into a $3 million effort and extend to larger business corridors, including Jericho Turnpike, Willis Avenue and Old Country Road, Savino said.

“It’s really a community-geared grant that can bring up people to help the community as a whole,” he said.

Trustee Dennis Walsh said he’s seen the plan work — the new facades now draw people’s eyes to businesses when they would just walk by them before.

“I think other store owners are looking forward to this extending out into other areas,” Walsh said.

Also on Wednesday, the Village Board adopted a $22.8 million 2017-18 budget that will increase spending about 2.1 percent but keep property tax revenue flat for the second straight year.

The village saw a slight decrease in state municipal aid but is set to get more state money for road repairs, increasing its total road maintenance budget to $1.25 million.

Strauss touted the village’s efforts to pay off about $35 million in debt since 2004 and payments from residential apartment complexes that help keep taxes down.

“The Village of Mineola is on financial footing that is rock solid, and we plan to keep it that way,” Strauss said.

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