By ASHLEY HELMS
The industrial area in the Village of Mamaroneck may see what some say is a necessary makeover if certain plans fall into place.
Intended to outline how the village can utilize the area most effectively, village government has applied for a grant of up to $25,000 from the Hudson River Greenway to fund a complete study of the area. In addition, a citizens committee focusing on the industrial area’s specific needs would be formed to discuss possibilities for the downtown area once the study was funded.
The industrial area of the village is about one square mile in size and is bordered on the right by Fenimore Road towards the Metro North railroad bridge, up to the Interstate 95 overpass and around near the garbage dump. On the left, the industrial zone is bordered by Rockland Avenue, according to Mayor Norman Rosenblum, a Republican.
A proposal to allow Village Planner Bob Galvin to apply for the grant was approved unanimously by the Board of Trustees on Dec. 9.
Spearheaded by Trustee Ilissa Miller, a Democrat, the citizens committee would make suggestions to village government regarding what it feels would make the area more attractive and how to improve it. This could include merging vacant lots into one large lot for future business or residential development, possible rezoning of the industrial area to usher in a wider variety of development or the addition of new businesses.
If the grant is approved, the village would be required to match the $25,000 grant with funds budgeted for municipal neighborhood studies; bringing the project to a total of $50,000.
Miller said it is unlikely the village will receive the full $25,000 grant, if it receives anything at all, but the Board of Trustees could help the project move forward without it by forming the citizens committee in advance. The village is expected to know if it received the grant by June 2014.
“We can do the [citizens] group and make recommendations and look at it with Bob Galvin and then bring in experts. We can be smart about how we do it,” Miller said
The citizens committee would be an informal volunteer group made up of at least five members, most likely including industrial area residents and business owners along with village employees. So far, no one has been selected for the committee.
But at least one industrial zone business owner was concerned with what bringing in new businesses might mean for the area and his clientele.
Bobby Vizzari, who owns CrossFit gym, located at 345 Fayette Avenue, said that, due to the nature of his business, heavy weights are thrown around and patrols often run outside of the gym. If the village brings in different types of businesses in the area, Vizzari said he would be concerned that it would be hard for him to operate the gym. He needs a more industrial area that is accustomed to noise.
“If it was more of a store front I don’t know how it would appeal to my clients,” Vizzari said. “My uncle owns a heating and cooling store next door. Where would the businesses then go that need this type of space?”
If plans progress, the study will be similar to the transit-oriented development study conducted in the area surrounding the Mamaroneck Metro-North train station, Miller said. The TOD study was used to determine how best to develop the area within a walkable distance from the train station.
Located in a notoriously flood-prone area, the village’s industrial zone has suffered immense damage during the floods of 2007 and Hurricane Sandy last year. Some properties remain vacant after damage sustained during those events. Numerous auto mechanic shops along with some residential units and other business make up the industrial area.
In the floods of 2007, the village was covered by 8 inches of rain and more than 85 homes near the Mamaroneck River were evacuated. Hillary Clinton, a Democratic state senator at the time of the flood, arrived on the scene in order to relay to President George W. Bush the need for federal storm recovery aid in the area. Damage and loss of inventory in the industrial area reached over $1 million, according to Village Manager Richard Slingerland.
Despite being within a flood danger zone, Trustee Andres Bermudez Hallstrom, a Democrat, said the threat of flood damage doesn’t have to be a deterrent from opening up a business or owning property in the industrial area.
“A storage place is applying to build in the area,” Bermudez Hallstrom said. “[Flooding] disrupts your business, but it doesn’t have to ruin it.”
Bermudez Hallstrom said the Board of Trustees will most likely wait on the results of the grant application before moving forward with forming an industrial zone citizens committee so the group will have a scope of what its limitations are, what the village can afford and what it is looking for in terms of redevelopment in the area.
After village government receives word on the grant and outlines how much the study will cost, a request for proposal will most likely be submitted in order to find a company to conduct the industrial area study, according to Miller.
Though she is disappointed the village will have to wait until June before it can really start to bring the study together, Miller said she is happy that village government is supportive of the study.
“We’re happy that everyone on the board and the manager’s office is serious about taking a look at what we can do down there in the village,” Miller said. “It’s promising that everyone is on the same page.”