Chautauqua Avenue here will be renamed in honor of local industrialist and resident Reginald Lenna and his wife, Elizabeth.
The couple were thanked during a ceremony Saturday for their major contribution toward reconstruction of the village's main street. The Lennas have given $450,000 over three years to the $1.8 million effort to renovate Chautauqua Avenue.
During a ceremony in front of Village Hall, each was presented with a gold key by Mayor Anthony Caprino. Once the project is complete in three years, they were told, the avenue will be renamed Lenna Boulevard.
The chairman of the fund-raising committee, William Evans, explained that the Lennas are helping realize a dream that many people have had for the street.
"It will really take down all the utility lines, the overhead poles; it'll create landscaped walkways, tree-lined boundaries," Evans said. "There'll be beautiful gas lanternlike light posts up and down the avenue. And there will be a magnificent clock tower at the intersection of Chautauqua Avenue and Summit."
He said the combined effort of the Lakewood Community Development Committee and the Committee for the Improvement and Betterment of Lakewood has thus far raised $600,000. The goal is $900,000. The rest will be from local and state government sources and grants.
"The other thing that I think is important for people to know is that by raising $900,000 privately, we are ensuring that there will be virtually no change in the tax rate in the Village of Lakewood, which is important to me and everybody," Evans said.
Recently, there has been discussion about the possibility of the village borrowing the remaining $900,000 for the effort over 20 years. That would cost the owner of an average $50,000 home about $5.50 extra annually on their tax bill.
It is hoped that with the money raised, and additional funds that could be leveraged, the project can begin before the end of the year, Evans said. It is estimated that it will take about three years to complete.