As businesses in Great Neck continue to shutter and our downtown continues to erode, it is fair to say that our community is suffering from a lack of leadership.
The article “Officials Discuss Downtown” on the front page of the Oct. 4, 2019 issue of the Great Neck News was another missed opportunity to shine a light on the problems that afflict this community.
Our simple reality is that the career politicians that “govern” us won’t be able to breathe life into this community. They lack clarity and conviction, and in more than a few cases, they have carelessly mismanaged Great Neck for decades.
While I appreciate that the various mayors and elected officials of Great Neck and the Town of North Hempstead are concerned about the blight that is Middle Neck Road, let’s not lose sight that this is, in fact, the responsibility of the Village of Great Neck Plaza.
Our elected officials are responsible for the stubborn death spiral we all get to witness as we pass the dirty storefronts that line our main thoroughfare.
The Village of Great Neck Plaza and its longstanding elected officials deserve much of the credit for the demise of our downtown. They also deserve credit for their inability to create opportunities for investment and redevelopment within the Plaza.
The Town of North Hempstead won’t fix this problem. The school board can’t fix this problem. And the surrounding village officials have no actionable role in addressing this problem.
We live in a community where our local elected officials—from the top down—are complacent (and so are local voters for that matter!) as they ignore many years of economic erosion, failed policies, cronyism and simple inaction.
We live in a village that is plagued by superfluous village expenses such as the cost of healthcare premiums for trustee spouses, illogical plans to improve the local economy by beautifying empty storefronts, a weak and ill-equipped Business Improvement District, and public art installed next to parking lots. Feeble attempts to govern and simple-minded approaches won’t spur growth.
Here are a few ways our elected officials could start addressing the problems over which they preside: reallocate village funds and hire a qualified professional to implement and lead an economic development plan; walk through the village and speak to the very people who live and shop here; take advantage of the few entities that have thrived such as the Gold Coast Art Center; and create an advisory council of real business leaders and seek their advice on revitalization. Just do something, and please, do it soon.
None of us can see the future, but this prediction seems pretty clear: property values throughout the entire peninsula will suffer and resources for our schools will become scarcer if our downtown isn’t fixed, and fixing this requires more than a handful of ill-equipped politicos sitting around a table reminiscing about the good old days.
Michael S. Glickman
Village of Great Neck Plaza
Immediate Past President, Gold Coast Arts Center