A lot to be proud of in Mineola

A lot to be proud of in Mineola
Mineola Mayor Paul Pereira, seen here at the Portugal Day parade in 2018. (Photo by Rebecca Klar)

There’s a lot to be proud of in Mineola. 

On Friday, June 16 the village was an honoree for the Long Island Smart Growth Awards, hosted by Vision Long Island. Mineola’s board of trustees was acknowledged for their efforts to increase development in the area, specifically with its two business overlay districts that were put into effect last year. 

“It was really great to be recognized for this forward-thinking initiative,” Mayor Paul Pereira said in an interview with Blank Slate Media. “And to let people know that Mineola is not just sitting back and taking this new reality of retail lying down.”

In December, the village board unanimously passed zoning changes for the strip of Jericho between Willis Avenue and Marcellus Road and downtown on Main Street, First Street and Second Street between Mineola Boulevard and Willis.

Developments in those areas, if approved, can now exceed the maximum height of 25 feet but not go above 40 feet within the districts, which places a cap on what the village’s master plan enacted in 2005 allowed.

The efforts allow not only Nassau County, but the state, to see the village as the gold standard in introducing smart development, Pereira said. The mayor also acknowledged the unique layout of the village that creates a duality in Mineola between downtown and traditional single-family residential areas.

“We’re able to put in that scale in one part of the village without really impacting the overwhelming part of it,” Pereira said.

The board approved its first application under the new guidelines in May to redevelop the site of the former Piccola Bussola, which burned down in an August 2020 fire, into a four-story residential building. 

Another major building on Jericho, the Mineola Volunteer Fire Department’s headquarters, was recently completed and dedicated on Saturday, June 17.

The old headquarters opened in 1913 as the firehouse for the department’s Company No. 2, which had been established six years earlier.

With Company No. 1’s home on Main Street — which was also serving as village hall at the time — in bad shape, the village decided in 1925 to expand the Jericho Turnpike building so it could house both companies.

The revamped headquarters was dedicated in 1928 and served the village for more than nine decades before its demolition, which took place from early February to mid-April in 2021.

“It’s a beautiful building,” Pereira said. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Pereira, who was elected in 2021, credited his predecessor Scott Strauss–a firefighter himself–and former Chief Andrew Martone Jr. for driving the efforts to see this come to fruition.

The mayor added that Strauss “took on the burden” of deciding between refurbishing the old firehouse, restoring it or building a new one and said it was ultimately the right decision. 

Pereira also spoke on how pleased he was with the great turnout at the New York State Portugal Day Parde in Mineola, held on June 11. 

The event, beginning in 2014, was started by the community group Daughters of Portugal and the New York Portuguese American Leadership Conference. 

Portuguese culture has for a long time been engrained with the village, which Pereira–a social studies teacher in the Mineola School District–said first began when Portuguese immigrants arrived from Massachusetts or elsewhere to work on construction projects in the 1920s. 

Manny Carvalho, who recently celebrated his 30th year in business as owner of Churrasquiera Bairrada on Jericho, was the grand marshal. The guest of honor was the Ambassador of Portugal in Washington D.C. Francisco Duarte Lopes, who Pereira said was impressed by the event.

“I think he was shocked by the level of enthusiasm, participation and number of people that came out,” Pereira said. 

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