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Massena downtown Facebook group forms

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MASSENA — Facebook, a spot to catch up with old friends or see a relative’s recent photographs, now is a place to discuss the future of downtown Massena.

A group called Massena Downtown Coalition formed on the social networking site late last week and already has nearly 130 members. The Web page is intended to gather people 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 said she was satisfied with the response so far. The Facebook 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 Massena its primary focus for bringing in new jobs, Ms. Makdouli said, but the area needs to improve in order to make Massena more attractive to prospective companies.

“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 that downtown property owners will have to follow in order to qualify for the grant. 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 Massena Facebook page can be found at www.facebook.com/MassenaDowntown.

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