State announces $10M grant for Baldwin downtown

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Baldwin received a $10 million grant to revitalize its downtown area, which officials said has seen empty storefronts and vacant businesses for almost two decades.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday that Baldwin won the grant out of a pool of almost 100 Long Island applicants at a packed press conference at Baldwin High School. The funding was awarded as part of the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative, which officials said aims to revitalize communities and boost the local economy.

The corridor was once bustling with life, Hempstead Town Supervisor and Baldwin native Laura Gillen said, “but over time, we saw businesses fail, stores remained vacant, and we saw that beautiful corridor suffer a decline. We’re here today to turn the tide on that decline and to see Baldwin revitalized in a way to make it even better than it was before.”

People cheered as elected officials, including Nassau County Executive and Baldwin native Laura Curran, accepted an oversized $10 million check. Officials said the state will collaborate with the Long Island Economic Development Council to revitalize Baldwin’s downtown as part of Cuomo’s approach to transform communities into vibrant neighborhoods.

“We in the town will use these funds to further enhance our efforts by creating more streetscaping improvements, green infrastructure, traffic calming and investments in mixed use development that will bring housing, office and retail options to our residents,” Gillen said.

“It’s going to happen now — that’s the Baldwin plan,” Cuomo said to a room of more than 100 people. “And it is a powerful, powerful plan, and I applaud everybody who worked so long and hard on it. … Baldwin did a great plan. You read that plan, you know, a lot of time, energy and intelligence went into it.”

The grant comes as Baldwin and the Town of Hempstead move forward with the process to implement an overlay district in Baldwin, which tailors zoning requirements to the particular area in order to best encourage development with the least possible disruption. The modernized zoning codes are intended to attract developers and encourage growth.

“The Baldwin Downtown Revitalization Initiative will be a game-changer for local residents and businesses," State Sen. Todd Kaminsky said. "I applaud Governor Cuomo for this investment in our community and will continue to work with my partners in government and local leaders to ensure this project derives maximum benefit for Baldwin and Long Island.”

The town recently announced that an environmental analysis of 87 acres of Baldwin has been completed, and called for a public hearing on Sept. 3 to collect input from the public. VHB Engineering and Vision Long Island, the town’s consultants for the overlay project, would then prepare the final environmental impact statement, officials explained, which would contain all of the submitted comments and observations.

Then they will enter the final stage of the State Environmental Quality Review Act work and the town would be able to adopt the ordinance, and it would be in effect, explained Rich Regina, town attorney, at a public meeting in Baldwin on July 22.

“I am deeply grateful to Governor Cuomo and the State of New York for providing the resources to unlock Baldwin’s great potential and applaud all of the town, county and civic leaders whose dedication and labor set the stage for this investment in our future,” Nassau County Legislator Debra Mulé said.

“With the pending establishment of overlay zoning, coupled with this new funding, I am confident that we will see a new Baldwin renaissance in the coming years and exciting new projects come to fruition for the entire community to enjoy,” said Town Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney, who couldn’t attend the event because of a previous out-of-state commitment related to her law practice. She has held monthly meetings where she has updated residents on the overlay district process and answered questions.