News 10 Now - City Of Ogdensburg Plans For Future

September 25, 2009 - OGDENSBURG, N.Y. - This week, the City of Ogdensburg is planning its future. Architects were hired to help draft a new waterfront and downtown area. The city will use grant money to move the project forward.

To kick off the revitalization project, two days of discussions were lead by the Dadras Architect Partners where the community brainstormed economic and development ideas.

A public presentation will be given at 10 a.m. Saturday at City Hall. A community discussion will follow.
"We are discussing with the community today what they think our opportunities are and what they thing our challenges are," said J. Justin Woods, Ogdensburg Planning Director.

"There might be ten or fifteen ideas that come out, and we try to synthesize them all together to have them work as one cohesive plan for the community," said Robert Dadras, Dadras Architect Partner.

Officials say there is enough money to get the project started, but private investors and more grants will be needed for actual construction. - Great Neck Plans A Main-Street Makeover

by David Winzelberg
Published: June 11, 2010
Worried about traffic and unbridled commercial development, the Village of Great Neck is looking to transform its tired business district along Middle Neck Road into a fresh new main street.

While some of its older landmarks still look the same, the village first settled in 1644 is sporting an uneven assortment of storefronts, some garish signage and a couple of retail vacancies that have altered its once stately appearance. Speeding traffic through its business district has also made crossing Middle Neck Road a dangerous proposition.

That's why the village recently embarked on creating a "Main Street Strategy" and hired an architectural firm to help design a blueprint for the future of Great Neck's commercial area.

Architect Victor Dadras, of Manhattan-based Dadras Architects, has been meeting with community members, schools, businesses and civic groups in the last few weeks to get a better idea of what the village wants.

"The village is growing," Dadras said. "They want to make sure it grows the way they'd like it to grow."

Mayor Ralph Kreitzman said the meetings have been essential for getting input from the community where some are more resistant to change.

"A lot of people think everything is fine," Kreitzman said. "What we have is not broken, but we can make it better."

The mayor said the planners are looking at standardized signage and store façades to retain the historic features of its older architecture, as well as new street lighting and other beautification measures.

Rory Pleva, a manager at Raindew Family Centers across from the village green, said he hadn't yet heard about the main street makeover, but he thought any restrictions on signage that come out of it would be too constrictive for retailers.

"I think everyone should have their own signs," Pleva said.

Dadras said pedestrian safety was the No. 1 issue concerning the village's seniors, and streetscape design would be central to any makeover. Corner bump-outs for safer pedestrian crossings are sure to be included, he said.

Sandwiched between tony Kings Point and Great Neck Estates, the Village of Great Neck has about 10,000 residents and is less than 2 miles from end to end. Its walkable business district makes it a prime spot for upper-end retailers and specialty shops, which is why the main street strategy should help attract developers to invest there.

Kreitzman stressed that the makeover won't cost residents anything. The mayor actually lowered property taxes in the village last year and said he won't raise them this year. He said the village may form a business improvement district which would make it eligible for economic development grants.

Assemblywoman Michele Schimel, a Great Neck resident, said the current state of storefronts and the ambience along Middle Neck Road doesn't reflect what people think of Great Neck. She is working with the main street group and trying to secure state money toward the makeover effort. Schimel said since business is slow, now is the time to do the planning so the village can be prepared when the economy starts to percolate.

"We just have to polish the apple," Schimel said. "It's there."