Destination: Great Neck to host its second community forum on Feb. 28
On Tuesday, Feb. 28, Destination: Great Neck will be hosting its second community forum. The organization hosts community forums for residents, local merchants and elected officials to come together to voice concerns and be a part of the visioning of the future of Great Neck. The title of the upcoming forum is ‘What’s Next For Great Neck?’
Destination: Great Neck was formed in March 2021 by a group of residents dedicated to improving Great Neck and all of its villages. Since the organization’s establishment, they have discussed ideas to strengthen Great Neck’s appeal with locals and village officials. The group has hosted two successful Gatsby Fests in Great Neck and actively met to plan more meetings with the community and Great Neck Village officials.
Destination: Great Neck held its first community forum in late October 2022. Proud residents mixed with concerned stakeholders, merchants and elected representatives who showed up to the community forum. People voiced ideas and hopes for Great Neck, leading positivity to flow.
One of Destination: Great Neck’s founders, resident Janet Nina Esagoff, described the previous community forum as excellent and well-attended. “We had a watershed moment where the residents were talking about their frustrations and aspirations,” said Esagoff.
The first community forum inspired the members of Destination: Great Neck to plan meetings with village mayors, brainstorm with visionaries and put dreams in motion. In only a few months, Destination: Great Neck has had multiple meetings with village mayors and trustees to discuss ideas to revitalize Great Neck’s downtown.
The upcoming community forum will center around how Great Neck can bring vibrancy to Main Street, encourage new restaurants to open and add to the overall appeal of Great Neck’s downtown.
“The conversation will be focused on real estate, commercial development and main street development,” said Esagoff. “We have some experts coming, and it’ll be more of a focused conversation.”
Destination: Great Neck has planned for a panel of architects, realtors, members from Vision Long Island and other experts to speak and answer questions in the forum. Vision Long Island is an organization that educates, advocates, plans, designs and provides technical assistance on Smart Growth projects. They bring community designs together with experts, stakeholders, and decision-makers to advance quality growth and preservation on Long Island.
“[Vision Long Island] brings a wealth of experience regarding Main Street development and what it takes to have a downtown be vital,” said Esagoff. “We’re very fortunate that they’re giving us their time on a volunteer basis to provide the information that our residents are seeking.”
“Our residents are frustrated by asking local mayors or trying to get answers from landlords. And those are very agenda-driven points of view,” said Esagoff. “But Vision Long Island is more of an expert in the field.”
Frank Camarano, from the Nassau County Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Vision LI board, will be at the upcoming community forum to share advice and expertise on the situations residents present.
“We really have some bonafide experts who know about business development, economic development, and Main Street downtown that are coming to the forum,” said Esagoff. “And hopefully, they’ll be able to answer pointed questions from the crowd.”
The forum’s format hasn’t been finalized, but the idea is a question-and-answer setup. Destination: Great Neck will introduce panelists and talk about upcoming events. Then questions will be opened to the panel. Residents can ask questions or ask for clarifications on a specific topic.
“I think the residents need to understand why Great Neck is what it is,” said Esagoff. “We have a very unique set of circumstances, particularly demographically. We have a very large contingent from the Chinese and Asian communities. We also have a big kosher community. So those communities don’t necessarily intertwine, affecting the mix of retail in Great Neck Plaza and Great Neck Village.”
“The ways that normal residents mix and intermingle in Great Neck doesn’t have that same type of mix unless it’s in the public school or the library, for example,” said Esagoff. “So we want to understand the issues and then tailor a solution for them. And we’re hopeful that the experts who attend will be able to help us get closer to that solution.”
At the Nov. 30, 2022 Destination: Great Neck and elected officials meeting, Destination: Great Neck suggested a few simple beautification ideas to get the revitalization process going. Adding more decorative lighting year round, improving the landscaping of the trees and potted plants on the village streets, and unified signage give the town a necessary ‘facelift.’
“If you look throughout the villages, it looks a little tired and old,” said Esagoff at the November meeting. “Unfortunately, facelifts matter. Bringing a bit more vibrancy and positivity will go a long way.”
After the presentation, the conversation opened for the elected village officials and Destination: Great Neck members to begin hashing out ideas. The mayors and trustees agreed with Destination: Great Neck that the town needs help to bring more vibrancy and more people. One suggestion discussed at length at the meeting was unified flags.
“We need flags on the lampposts to line Middle Neck Road because every village can participate in this project,” said Kennsington Mayor Susan Lopatkin. “It’s cheap, fast, and it can be done.”
“Beatification at a very low budget amount is a start,” said Thomaston Mayor Steven Weinberg. All the present mayors, trustees and other elected officials agreed on this idea along with the other simple beautification plans. The group at the meeting gave the green light to begin beautification in small steps.
Esagoff shared that Destination: Great Neck has a prototype pole banner they will present to the village mayors at their Feb. 22 meeting, before the community forum.
“It’s signage to make the Great Neck shopping district all to itself on the peninsula rather than village by village,” said Esagoff. “So we are gonna be introducing that and maybe some lighting attached to the banner. It’s gonna be throughout the district, so it’s the same color and theme.”
The Great Neck village mayors are all invited to the community forum and Destination: Great Neck is hopeful there will be more in attendance for this forum than the last one they held in October. “We’re hoping that this time there’s more participation by all the mayors,” said Esagoff.
The community forum is held on Feb. 28 with a reception from 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. and the presentation and open mic from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The forum will be held at The Mariner Estate located at 94 Old Mill Neck Rd. Admission is free.
If you are a community organization and want to reserve a table to market your group or are interested in being a Destination: Great Neck sponsor, email email@example.com.
To learn more about Destination: Great Neck and keep up to date on all things Great Neck, check out their social media accounts and website, destinationgreatneck.com