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Massena downtown Facebook group forms

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MASSENA - Facebook is a spot to catch up with old friends, see a relative’s recent photo albums and now, discuss the future of downtown Massena.

A group called Massena Downtown Coalition formed on the social networking website late last week and now has nearly 130 members. The web page is intended to gather individuals who are interested in revitalizing the district, according to Business Development Corporation for a Greater Massena board member Crista Makdouli.

The Facebook effort is part of a larger project the BDC is undertaking to generate interest in downtown Massena. The entity retained Rick Hauser of In Site: Architecture, Geneva, to develop a comprehensive strategy for revitalizing the business district.

By Thursday evening, several downtown discussions had transpired on Facebook, including the need to restore the Schine Theater, the potential for an ice cream parlor in the business district and a conversation about whether the area had enough parking.

The web page isn’t just for discussion purposes, Ms. Makdouli said. Massena will apply later this month for a state Main Street grant award, which could provide funding for downtown business owners interested in making facade improvements to their buildings.

The program is competitive and the state is looking for local support for the project, Ms. Makdouli said. Creating a Facebook page about downtown is one way to do that.

“It shows a really sincere local support line for this project,” Ms. Makdouli said. “Cynics need not apply. We need to focus this as a positive force.”

Ms. Makdouli was satisfied with the response so far. The web page is intended as a place for residents to share their nostalgic stories about downtown’s heyday, and plan for the future, she said.

The BDC is not making downtown its primary focus for bringing new jobs to Massena, Ms. Makdouli said. But downtown needs to improve in order to make Massena more attractive to prospective companies, she said.

“Our packaging could use some work,” Ms. Makdouli said.

The BDC will hold a special meeting at 4:30 p.m. Monday about the facade improvement guidelines downtown property owners will have to follow in order to qualify for the grant funds. The board of directors will accept public input and potentially adopt a set of guidelines by the end of the meeting, according to Executive Director Jason A. Clark.

The downtown Facebook page can be found at www.facebook.com/MassenaDowntown .

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