Well, we can certainly say, they did it.
Back in 2006, at a time when the Village of Patchogue’s Pontieri administration had just come out of an election, there was opposition to the then-new condos being built at Copper Beach Village and Bay Village. An op-ed titled “Imagine Patchogue’s future” was written by then-trustee and current village clerk, Lori Devlin, and published in this newspaper.
There was also a proposal for a hotel to be located on the Swezey property at the Four Corners, and there had been discussions of condemning the property, if necessary, which, at the time, was a contentious issue. This and more compelled Devlin to articulate their team’s vision for the future of Patchogue. Fast-forward to 2021, and Devlin stumbled across the old op-ed and was pleased with the accuracy of it.
“We’re proud that we got it done,” Devlin said recently, looking back at her plan.
Mayor Paul Pontieri said he felt as though not being bound to an official master plan allowed for more spontaneous and better-suited projects. Looking back, he said, the village was able to take advantage of opportunities and infill areas identified as blighted in the community, while staying open to the ideas of developers and business owners.
“My concern for a master plan was that they create wants, not needs,” he said. “You limit yourself to that plan. You don’t always get what you want, but you get what you need. We didn’t have a master plan, but our plan got us what we needed.”
The idea at the time, Devlin added, was to marry the theatre to the arts community at Artspace and bring feet on the street with Copper Beech, the first condo development close to Main Street and the railroad. Then, she said, Bobbique came, attracted by the increase in nearby residents. Other notable developments along the way include Tritec at the Four Corners and, more recently, Blue Point Brewery’s move to the Briarcliffe building. The idea, according to Devlin in 2006, was to take the opportunity to reshape the village, while also preserving its heritage as a bustling center of commerce and attractive vacation spot.
However accurate the op-ed was in foretelling the future of Patchogue, there was one piece of information Devlin hit dead-on: In creating a downtown with affordable housing, it would attract young people. According to Pontieri, the village has an average age of 36, compared to Suffolk County’s 42.
“Current planning studies show that [young people] are moving to downtown areas for the ease of access to shopping, for cultural amenities such as theater and fine dining, and a sense of community,” the op-ed reads. “It has been proven again and again that creating a downtown is the catalyst that will keep our businesses strong and thriving.”
Then came the restaurant boom, and the rest is, well, history.
The piece also went into detail about “imagining” a fully revitalized village with the theatre, accessible waterfront, new parks, community gardens, transportation, shops and restaurants attracting visitors to shop and dine. Current residents no longer have to imagine. Almost all of those goals have been met.
Additional goals met also include the former Halcyon Manor that has now been made into the recreation center at 380 Bay Avenue, and the development of Copper Beech and the former Smithport Hotel, now known as the Bay Village Condominiums.
“Revitalizing a downtown takes vision and leadership,” the op-ed reads, certainly holding true to the tremendous revitalization that has taken place in Patchogue Village over the last 15 years. “The future of Patchogue is strong.”
Looking forward, Devlin and Pontieri agreed that wish list items include completing the Shorefront Park shoreline project, filling the now-vacant Burlington building, and continuing to create a family-friendly atmosphere in the downtown.