By Thom Ianniccari
It is not often that we get to watch the birth of a renaissance, which is defined as a revival of or renewed interest in something.
The Greater Mahopac-Carmel Chamber of Commerce declares that a revival is occurring with the recently purchased properties of Swan Cove and the Tompkins Mahopac Bank lots – former home of The Chamber. This project is the beginning of a renaissance for the hamlet business center, which will provide a beautiful lakeside park and a 90-space parking lot.
As it was, Swan Cove was the prior site to an eyesore collection of old buildings and an embarrassment to the downtown area. Losing the blight was an instant return on investment. Being the last available lakeside property and conveniently located in the business district, it is an investment that will pay back dividends for decades as a destination site providing convenient parking.
When placed into the puzzle of the forthcoming Comprehensive Master Plan and redevelopment guidelines, this project will reap huge returns.
Redevelopment of our commercial properties will bring such improvements as town water and sewer, and better roads, sidewalks and traffic flow – with more accessible parking in those areas.
Swan Cove and its municipal parking lot is a project that puts “the wind to our backs.” This will make it easier for the public to visit retail destinations, business offices, restaurants and marinas. In addition to having an unimpeded view of the lake, it will offer a place to relax and enjoy each other’s company. Imagine a pleasant spot with seating to watch the lake, have a quick lunch, or for your children to play.
Enhanced traffic flows are being studied at the Routes 6 and 6N intersection, with new crosswalks and sidewalks that connect the pedestrian experience to the businesses around the parking lot. New catch basins and storm drains will redirect all the road water from going onto the new lot, which, along with the newly installed pump drains, will decrease the flooding the old lot was infamous for.
Including improvements to the neighboring Chamber Park and connecting the two over the water by a foot bridge, it will also allow for the long-awaited completion of the sidewalk improvements on the south side of Route 6N, across from Mahopac Plaza.
New building codes will help the commercial hamlet grow, prosper, and get a much-needed facelift. Property and business owners in the hamlet should start a business development group to represent in solidarity their ongoing visions to town leadership, thus continuing the renaissance. This is a core muscle to this renaissance and business owners and property owners should reach out the chamber’s Legislative Advocacy Board to discuss this.
Two years ago, when our co-chairs of the LAB first unveiled the chamber’s white paper calling for the town to draft a new Master Plan by 2020, town leaders immediately embraced the idea and started laying the groundwork. In December 2019, a planning consultant firm was hired to conduct studies.
Zoning and building codes will be reviewed and modified to create a new blueprint for Carmel. It won’t happen in a year, but you, the citizen and business owner, can make sure it does happen.
If everyone leaves this to the town void of participation, we lose the “wind in our sails” and you may not like the results. It is time for the county seat of Putnam to start its transformation and for all to take part in having a say in the development that will build pride and lower taxes.
Gandhi said, ,”Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Well, you can be the change you want to see in the town. Come to the public hearings that will be scheduled in the New Year, and listen, learn and inquire.
Thom Ianniccari is co-chairman of the Legislative Advocacy Board for the Greater Mahopac-Carmel Chamber of Commerce.