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Greenport looking to update local waterfront revitalization program

Village of Greenport trustees at its regular meeting last Thursday authorized the solicitation of service proposals to update and finalize the village local waterfront revitalization program, following a lengthy work session discussion the previous week.

Greenport’s revitalization program is a planning guide “to encourage and coordinate the continued revitalization of the Village of Greenport” while maintaining its heritage as a waterfront community with a commercial waterfront, according to the original plan adopted in 1988. The last formal amendment was adopted in 1996 and an update was most recently published in 2014. 

“It’s time to finish it,” Trustee Mary Bess Phillips said at an Oct. 21 work session. “I think it now has become the time that we [look at a] broader picture of what we want the downtown district to look like.”

She suggested prioritizing affordable housing and proposed using parking meters to generate revenue to maintain village infrastructure.

“Village residents should have the opportunity to have some revenue generated for the [maintenance] of streets from the visitors marketed by the business district … The parking has now extended into residential areas,” she said. “We need to be taking an overall picture and not just chopping it up into pieces of code.”

Trustee Julia Robins proposed a moratorium on permits for new development in the Waterfront Commercial and Retail Commercial districts to give trustees a chance to review the LWRP.

“I think we’re putting a tremendous amount of wear and tear on our infrastructure, which I don’t think we have the ability to keep up with, to be honest with you,” she said, noting concern about overdevelopment.

She added that the local community deserves as much attention as infrastructure, to ensure that Greenport is “not just a destination,” and suggested looking for solutions to the affordable housing crisis.

One scenario she proposed included potentially clearing an area in Moore’s Woods to develop leased homesites with income and residency guidelines. The lessee would pay rent to the village and install a manufactured home or tiny house on the property, with water and sewer hook-up included with the lease.

“I’m not the only affordable housing advocate to come up with this idea,” Ms. Robins said, pointing to the nonprofit Community Land Trust, which purchases land for long-term leases to enable affordable housing. 

She also suggested creating a housing task force or creating an apartment complex to facilitate affordable housing.

Trustee Peter Clarke agreed that the village needs to revisit the LWRP. Planning might be the wrong word, he said, because it implies “there is a lot of open space to be planned and we don’t really have that.”

“But we do have a material business area and material public land that would, I think, benefit from a more cohesive, thoughtful plan,” he added. 

Mr. Clarke pointed to Moore’s Lane as an example, saying that although he’s excited about the developments there — such as the addition of a miniature railroad with the help of the Rotary Club of Greenport — the area lacks “an overall 10- or 20-year plan to guide it.”

“Once the railroad’s in, once the station house is built, how do we look at parking and off-site parking? How do we really look at that asset and develop it to complement the rest of the residential and business district to the village? I think that needs work,” he said. 

He expressed hesitation about Ms. Robins’ proposed moratorium and suggested it might “be the wrong approach.”

“What I’m really looking for us to do is to find more resources for planning … and putting forth a vision so that we can fulfill that through the normal course rather than saying we’re going to prohibit things,” Mr. Clarke said.

He added that he supported Ms. Phillips’ suggestion to revamp parking restrictions in the village to augment revenue and acknowledged the affordable housing crisis, but said he wasn’t prepared to speak about the issue at that meeting.