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Operation Downtown! Hempstead Town Joins Forces with Wantagh Business Owners to Unveil COVID-19 Street Closure Initiative to Promote Outdoor Dining

Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin, Councilman Chris Carini and Town Clerk Kate Murray teamed with members of the Wantagh Chamber of Commerce in front of the famed Mulcahy’s Pub and Concert Hall to unveil “Operation Downtown,” an initiative that encourages temporary street closures to help promote outdoor dining in a safe and socially distant manner during the COVID-19 pandemic. They were joined by Receiver of Taxes Jeanine Driscoll, Wantagh Chamber of Commerce President Cathy McGrory Powell and Mulcahy’s Owner John Murray, Jr.

The officials and business owners announced that the Wantagh Chamber of Commerce will be hosting its first street closure this Thursday, July 23rd along Railroad Avenue and Grove Street, just east of Wantagh Avenue and north of Sunrise Highway. The popular hub of restaurants and businesses will be closed to vehicular traffic on Thursdays from July 23rd through October 29th from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. until further notice.

“The Coronavirus Pandemic has taken a huge toll on downtowns across the nation, particularly here in New York where we experienced the painful COVID-19 surge this spring,” Clavin said. “Many of our restaurant and local business owners, including those standing with me today, remained on the front lines during the Governor’s Stay-At-Home orders to provide essential services to our community, providing delivery and curbside service to neighbors in a safe and efficient manner. We’re thrilled to be here today to announce another step on the ‘Road to Recovery,’ as we launch ‘Operation Downtown,’ to encourage the closure of streets in downtown business districts to encourage outdoor dining and entertainment in a safe and socially distant manner during the pandemic.”

“Reopening our economy is so critical to the future of America’s largest township,” Carini added. “By encouraging street closures and promoting outdoor dining, we’re doing our part to assist business owners as they adjust to the changes spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m proud to stand here today with the Wantagh Chamber of Commerce to launch ‘Operation Downtown’ and I look forward to seeing families enjoying Thursday evenings here in downtown Wantagh for the rest of the summer season.”

The application, officially approved by the Hempstead Town Clerk’s office this week, includes the Chamber’s certification that it will comply with the current Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and the New York State Governor’s Executive Orders. The application also required approval from the Nassau County Police Department and the Wantagh Fire Department.

“It truly has been a pleasure working with the dedicated members of the Wantagh Chamber of Commerce to make this a reality,” Town Clerk Kate Murray said. “Along with Supervisor Don Clavin and Councilman Chris Carini, this is a result of teamwork comprising town officials and business leaders, and we’re confident this will act as a model for other communities to participate in this program as well.”

“The Wantagh Chamber of Commerce would like to thank Councilman Chris Carini, Town Clerk Kate Murray and Supervisor Don Clavin for helping our businesses at such a trying time,” said Cathy McGrory Powell, president of the Wantagh Chamber of Commerce. “The Chamber was happy to assist John Murray Jr., owner of Mulcahy’s Pub and Concert Hall, with his idea to help the Railroad Avenue restaurants boost their business. Businesses helping each other, that’s what Wantagh is all about.”

The Town of Hempstead has been in the forefront when it comes to advocating for a safe reopening and jumpstarting the economy. Hempstead Town was the first in the region to launch an Outdoor Dining initiative to allow for restaurant owners to create or expand outdoor seating in an effort to generate business as our region is in the midst of phased-in reopening under the guidance of the Governor and state health officials. What’s more, through federal CARES funds, the Town of Hempstead recently granted $2 million for PPE kits to be distributed to small businesses through the Boost Nassau program conducted by the Nassau County Local Development Council. What’s more, the Town of Hempstead has allocated funding for food banks and meal delivery programs to help feed residents in need and aid to hospitals on the front lines of the COVID-19 surge. The Town was among the first to open beaches, pools and playgrounds with health and safety regulations in place, as well as a series of drive-in concerts and movies to provide recreational and entertainment options to residents during the pandemic.
Clavin, Carini and Murray have been in contact with other Chambers to take part in “Operation Downtown.” Chambers and business organizations are encouraged to inquire about the street closure permits by calling the Hempstead Town Clerk’s office at 516-812-3025.

“We hope that this ‘Operation Downtown’ provides an economic boost to local businesses and also provides local families with safe dining and recreation options during the summer and early fall months,” Clavin said. “We encourage Chambers and business organizations in other communities to participate in this program and consider a street closure in their downtowns. We may be closing down the street but we are certainly open for business!”

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