The Town of Mount Pleasant received a $500,000 check last week from state Sen. Terrence Murphy (R-Yorktown) to help pay for improvements to portions of the Hawthorne and Thornwood business districts.
Supervisor Carl Fulgenzi accepted the money from Murphy that was from a state grant geared toward downtown revitalization projects. Town officials, who are in the opening stages of the multiyear improvement program, are aiming to complete the work by 2020.
“When I was a councilman in Yorktown, the number one issue was economic development,” Murphy said. “I am here to let you know I am committed to the revitalization of the downtown Mount Pleasant business district. This project will mean more jobs and improved quality of life for everyone.”
The money is a portion of the $3.5 million funding that the town needs for the work, Fulgenzi said. Officials have also applied for additional state grant money. The town’s Industrial Development Agency (IDA) is expected to vote on whether to allocate additional funds to invest in the business district, he said.
If that money becomes available it would help to make the improvements without using taxpayer money.
“We want to create a business district that will draw more people to these areas, add additional housing for those traveling on the train to the city, create a more walking-friendly community, draw creative businesses, banking, professionals and restaurants to an area that desperately needs the attention,” Fulgenzi said.
Projects scheduled to be done include curbing to help delineate the roadbed for drivers and pedestrians, pedestrian walkways with crosswalks, additional parking, new lighting and plantings.
Town officials are also discussing potential revisions to the downtown business district zoning to allow for apartments upstairs from first-floor commercial enterprises, Fulgnenzi said. Currently, that is permitted only in buildings constructed before 1983, he said.
The town is currently working on the revitalization’s design phase, Fulgenzi said. The initial projects will be along Elwood Avenue in Hawthorne. Work is also planned to continue onto Commerce Street and Franklin Avenue and north to the Four Corners intersection in Thornwood where Commerce Street meets Broadway, Marble Avenue and Columbus Avenue.
Fulgenzi said the town has been pursuing state money because most of the work is planned for Route 141, a state road. The state has the obligation of helping to improve a state route and not force local residents to foot the bill, he said.
“We started a conversation with Sen. Murphy about revitalizing the downtown area about a year ago, and he’s been on board ever since,” Fulgenzi said. “This grant will help give the downtown area a new look that will benefit our residents and business owners.”
The supervisor said he would like to see the town recapture some stores and attractions that once made the business districts destinations.
“The Town Board is very focused on the future of our community,” Fulgenzi said. “The past 10 years has made certain improvements impossible, we have always focused on infrastructure improvements and will continue to seek out grants to make the necessary improvements we feel are necessary to lessen the burden on our taxpayers.”