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Oyster Bay Main Street Association Helps The Community Thrive

By Sydney Kuhnel 

The downtown area of Oyster Bay is one of the best you can come by on Long Island. The streets are lined with full storefronts adorned with welcoming signs, lamp posts decorated to fit the season, and areas for neighbors and visitors alike to come together. The historic town has seen vast improvements over the last decade in both beautification, community events, and the number of active local businesses. This is in part thanks to the Oyster Bay Main Street Association.
A small suite in an unassuming office building in downtown Oyster Bay houses Meredith Maus, the executive director of the Oyster Bay Main Street Association. Here, along with director of development Sarah Kostakis, Maus works to continue the development of the downtown area in Oyster Bay. The two-woman team works to make the downtown area a welcoming place for community members, and visitors alike. One of the most visible improvements the association sponsors is the addition of signage to businesses. When Maus first came to the area she remembered how, walking around, many businesses were not clearly marked, and you just had to know what was there. Working together with businesses the association has managed to get signage across the downtown area, and the difference is “night and day,” according to Maus who clarified that she could not fully “take credit for that.” Maus highlighted the efforts of the businesses themselves to further the beautification of the downtown area.
Maus started at Oyster Bay Main Street Association as an intern. From here she moved up the ranks to executive director. As an intern, she laid the groundwork for the facade and sign grant which funds the beautification of businesses in Oyster Bay today. The grant is privately funded and covers 75 percent of business costs up to certain maximums depending on what the money is used for. To date, the association has granted $160,000 helping 81 businesses. Maus moved up to a project manager, and shortly thereafter became the executive director. Working for the association, Maus has taken on many roles, with different focuses, but the overarching goal is clear, as Maus would state, “We are just trying to create a place where our residents, businesses, and people, frankly, want to be.”
Beyond beautification efforts, the association sponsors many community events. The latest was the Holiday Stroll which happens each year on the second Saturday of December. Working in concert with the local Chamber of Commerce, the association gets local businesses, vendors, an ice-skating rink, and fire pits to line the streets of downtown Oyster Bay. The event hosted over 1,000 people, the biggest turnout they have ever seen. Maus attributes this to the “real sense of comradery in the downtown,” stating that the community “really do[es] come together.” Coming up in the spring the association sponsors a seedling program. Members of the community are welcome to come and take a seedling starter kit to later be planted, in turn contributing to the beautification of the downtown area. Through these community events Maus, along with the association, hopes to “Create memories,” by “giving people a place to come together.”
As the downtown area continues to grow, the vacancy rate in buildings lowers, and the number of local businesses rise. This is in part due to the help of the Oyster Bay Main Street Association. The next steps for them, as they see this part of their mission succeed, is to shift gears and focus more on historical preservation. The Oyster Bay area is a historic one, and the association hopes to preserve and highlight this. The association firmly believes that by preserving the history of Oyster Bay, the area will only continue to thrive, citing that “people fall in love with a place not necessarily just because it is cute or quaint or charming, but they love history, they love a story, they love feeling like they belong to something that’s larger than them.” Some of the tangible goals the association has in mind are creating a historic district and renovating and restoring buildings.

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