The Elmont Chamber of commerce held its 2nd annual Economic Summit at the Elmont Public Library on May 2, 2012. The program, a panel discussion with liberal audience participation was a resounding success. A near standing room only group of residents and business owners met at the Knickman Room at the Elmont Public Library to hear about a new vision for economic development in Elmont.
During opening remarks Elmont Chamber Vice President and forum moderator Muzzio Tallini recapped the year’s Chamber activities. “Last year, this event marked the beginning of a renaissance for the Elmont Chamber” said Tallini. He enumerated a number of Chamber initiatives including three networking events at local establishments, Fiorano Tile, Belmont Park and Bethpage Credit Union. The Elmont Farmer's Market, a Pole Banner Drive along Hempstead Turnpike, the Invest in Elmont $5K Scholarship, The Tom Bennet Spaghetti Dinner for Veterans at Gotham Avenue School, and a Jobs Fair were all new Chamber sponsored events.
“Who could forget the Jobs Fair that took place right here where thousands came seeking jobs and we [the chamber members] were able to help so many that day in actually gaining employment”.
Event s on the horizon include the June 2nd “Family Field Day” co-hosted by Gateway Youth Outreach and The Elmont Chamber of Commerce, the June 3rd “Belmont Stakes Blue Ribbon 5K Run for Prostate Cancer” at Belmont Park, and the June 6th first annual “Elmont Film Festival” to be held at the Elmont Library Theater.
“The Chamber did quite a bit last year and the renaissance continues” said Tallini.
As the roundtable discussion began, the Chamber’s interest in bridging traditional divides and mending fences was immediately evident as the panelists were announced. Mayor Tom Tweedy of Floral Park, David Sabatino of Envision Valley Stream, Legislator Carrie Solages, 3rd LD, and Eric Alexander of Vision Long Island joined the community residents for a 2 hour long discussion about how progress can be accomplished for Elmont and the surrounding neighborhoods.
“Finding those areas where we, for many generations have been joined together in a common interest and common goals” said Mayor Tweedy, “we can pull together on the same side of the wagon to get exponentially further than we can any other way”.
Eric Alexander in response to the question about Elmont’s core strength said the Elmont residents have joined some thirty other communities on Long Island that are ready for change. You have said “we want something different in our land use, in our transportation, in our community services.” He continued “You have embraced the diversity that you have – you are not afraid of it … it strengthens you”.
On the question of rezoning Hempstead Turnpike, moderator Tallini pointed out that there was a misconception by a few people in the community regarding the Chamber’s position. The Chamber strongly objected to the exclusion of mixed use as was proposed by the town in its zoning plan released in December 2011. Neither the community nor the Chamber were notified of this exclusion. The Chamber set out to mobilize the community and demand that the town reinsert mixed use. The Chamber embraced and advocated for an expansion of the mixed-use zone to a quarter mile walking radius along Hempstead Turnpike and Elmont Road and Hempstead Turnpike and Meacham Ave., an idea that was presented to the Town of Hempstead by Vision Long Island. While the Town did not adopt the mixed-use plan detailed by Vision Long Island, the Chamber agreed with Councilman Ambrosino that the zoning plan passed by the Town Board was just a “start”, and pledged to work with him on incorporating some of these other ideas in Phase 2 of the rezoning.Elmont’s five track railroad station, proximity to Manhattan, Belmont as a regional resource and the plan recently adopted by the town are potential infrastructure strengths. “I know this is controversial in some settings” said Alexander, “but the corridor plan that was just approved by the town provides more opportunity than you think. There is a potential Phase 2 that opens the door” to future possibilities.
The panelists then began discussing redevelopment along Elmont's other commercial corridors, including, Elmont Rd/Plainfield Ave, Meachan Ave, Dutch Broadway, and Linden Blvd. Tallini noted that so much attention is paid to Hempstead Tpke, but the other corridors are usually left out of the conversation. Livingston Chirchlow of the Pankhurst Civic Association concurred.
Legislator Solages announced that he had secured $500,000 to improve the Dutch Broadway Sports Complex. The complex has been essentially unused because of flooding in recent years.
David Sabatino of Envision Valley Stream noted the fragmentation of use along Meacham Ave.
Tallini “Whatever will put more customers through their doors, they will support” in reference to the business owners in those areas seeking redevelopment.
Elmont, Floral Park, South Floral Park and Valley Stream are gateway communities noted the panelists and we must come together as a unit to make things happen. The idea of forming an inter-community citizens committee was met with enthusiasm by from the attendees.
Also in attendance at this year's Summit were notables such as Mayor of South Floral Park Geoffrey Prime, South Floral Park Trustee Elton McCabe, Village of Valley Stream Trustee Dermond Thomas, Sewanhaka Superintendent Dr Ralph Ferrie, Elmont Fire Commissioners Ralph Esposito and Frank Hrbek, Elmont School Board Members Anthony Maffea and Patrick Emeagwali, Elmont Chamber President Paul Sapienza, Elmont CCC and Tudor Manor Civic President Joyce Stowe, Elmont East End President Patrick Nicolosi, Argo Civic President Mimi Pierre Johnson, Jamaica Square Improvement League President Claudine Hall, South Floral Park Civic President Tony Barbieri and Franklin Square Chamber of Commerce Board Member Bill Youngfert.
It remains to be seen what will happen with Elmont's other commercial corridors, but clearly opportunities exist to revitalize and redevelop those areas by rezoning the properties located there.
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