Smart Talk April 6th – 12th, 2019

Check out this week’s Smart Talk where we look in on the rezoning plan for the Inwood and Lawrence LIRR stations, the latest small business helped by PSEG’s Main Street Revitalization program, the Nicolls Road BRT plan, and more…

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April 6th – 12th, 2019


Ruskin Moscou Faltischek

Founded in 1968, Ruskin Moscou Faltischek has consistently evolved and expanded to meet their clients’ changing needs. As specialized as they are diverse, they have built cornerstone groups that represent all major practice areas of law including: corporate & securities, financial services, commercial litigation, health care, real estate, employment, and trusts & estates. Their clientele is diverse, sophisticated and includes large and mid-sized corporations, privately held businesses, institutions and individuals. With more than 60 attorneys, superior knowledge of the law, polished business acumen and proven credentials, Ruskin Moscou Faltischek has earned a reputation for excellence and success. It is this ongoing achievement that makes them an acknowledged leader among their peers and the preferred choice among Long Island business leaders.

“The fact of the matter is, without the Northeast Supply Enhancement project (NESE), we will not be able to supply natural gas to new commercial, industrial and residential customers to heat their homes or run their businesses, putting  the region’s economic growth at risk.” – National Grid President John Buckner speaking on the need for a new supply line for natural gas in the region


“They’re good communities, but because of haphazard zoning … [they] have far too much industrial and commercial mixed in with residential, which has created virtually a ghost town after sundown and has created public safety issues and has created blight. The only way to correct that is to completely rezone.” – Hempstead Councilman Bruce Blakeman speaking on proposed rezoning for the area surrounding the Inwood and Lawrence LIRR stations

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Hon. Pat Vecchio, 88

Former Smithtown Supervisor Pat Vecchio has passed away at the age of 88.  Mr. Vecchio had served as the town’s longest-running supervisor, having been in the position for 40 years until 2017, when he was defeated by current Supervisor Ed Wehrheim in the Republican Party.

Mr. Vecchio was born in lower Manhattan in 1930 and grew up in Brooklyn before graduating with a degree in English from St. John’s University.  He would go on to serve 2 years in the Army before eventually joining the NYPD in 1955 and working security for former NYC Mayor John Lindsay in the 60’s.  He would later work as an investigator for the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. Eventually he would enter politics, winning the race for Smithtown Supervisor in 1977.

Vecchio is survived by his wife Bernadine Kinder, sons Frank Vecchio, Patrick Vecchio Jr., Richard Vecchio, and daughter Patrice Vecchio; brothers Frank Vecchio and Richard Vecchio, sister Ann Cardino, and three grandchildren.

Hempstead Proposes Rezoning Area near Inwood and Lawrence LIRR Stations

In a move that could possibly bring walkable neighborhoods to the local area, Hempstead officials have proposed rezoning the area near the Inwood and Lawrence LIRR Stations.

The area in question is currently occupied by a number of industrial buildings, derelict areas, commercial yards, and sporadic housing.  However, the new code on the table would allow for buildings upwards of five stories that could contain up to 60 units per acre.  That would drop to three stories and 14 units per acre as it moves farther away from the rail stations. The proposal has also drawn support from the local civic as well as numerous local organizations.   

“We’re pretty excited about it,” said Inwood Civic Association president David Hance. “The area definitely needs to be revitalized.”

Blakeman also spoke about other hotspots for revitalization across the island, such as Farmingdale, and noted that the rezoning could increase both property value and rezoning.  That is reliant on new development, of course.

“They’re good communities, but because of haphazard zoning … [they] have far too much industrial and commercial mixed in with residential, which has created virtually a ghost town after sundown and has created public safety issues and has created blight,” said Hempstead Councilman Bruce Blakeman. “The only way to correct that is to completely rezone.”

There would be an affordable housing element as well, with 10 to 20 percent of the units coming in at 60 to 100 percent of median income.  There would also be priority for area residents for those units, with service members and firefighters receiving preference.

The new section of coding will be drafted by Cameron Engineering & Associates, who was hired for the job by the Town.

Vision Long Island Director Eric Alexander also spoke about the project, noting that proximity to NYC and the LIRR station means that the rezoning proposal “makes perfect sense.”

You can read more here.

Mi Viejito Pueblito Benefits From Vacant Space Program

Vision board and staff joined in support as Mi Viejito Pueblito, a new eatery in Huntington Station, celebrated its six-month anniversary, thanks in part to PSEG Long Island’s Vacant Space Program.

“PSEG Long Island is proud to support our local communities,” said John Keating, manager of Economic Development for PSEG Long Island. “We know the Long Island economy thrives on small businesses, and that starting one is a big step. That is why PSEG Long Island created programs like the Vacant Space Program. This program helps small business owners like the Valerio family get a jump start to a successful future. It is a win-win for all.”

Representatives from PSEG Long Island, members of the Huntington Station Chamber of Commerce, Town Board and government officials gathered to congratulate Mi Viejito Pueblito on its continued success.

In 2016, Eulogio Valerio and his wife, Emelia, signed a lease for the space at 1687 New York Avenue and embarked on their 19-year dream of opening Mi Viejito Pueblito. It was a challenging experience for the family, who started out not knowing how to navigate town and county regulations for opening a food-based business. In 2017, they sat down with Andrea Bonilla, a community liaison at Source the Station, the group tasked with involving local stakeholders in the revitalization of Huntington Station. Bonilla helped the Valerios navigate these processes and apply for the PSEG Long Island Vacant Space Program.

“Working to help small businesses is one of my favorite parts of what I do for the Huntington Station revitalization,” said Bonilla. “I met Eulogio almost two years ago when he first started the venture of opening his authentic Mexican restaurant, for which he had been saving for 19 years, and when I found an article about the PSEG Long island Vacant Space Program I knew I had to help him apply and get it. I am thankful to PSEG Long Island for its help to ensure this small business thrives.”

In October 2018, Eulogio and Emelia were finally able to open Mi Viejito Pueblito to praise from members of the community for genuine Mexican food in Huntington Station. The menu items come from traditional, authentic Mexican recipes, including special ingredients not usually found at other Mexican food locales.

“I have always wanted to have an authentic Mexican restaurant of my own, and to have a program like this from PSEG Long Island is a huge help because anything that helps you out as a small business when you are starting has a big impact,” said Valerio, owner of Mi Viejito Pueblito.

PSEG Long Island’s Vacant Space Program is designed to support the economic vitality of a business district and to optimize the use of existing electric infrastructure. This program offers special bill discounts to businesses that occupy a space in a commercial district that has been vacant for one year or more. Vacant business space detracts from the economic strength of a business district and results in underutilization of existing electric infrastructure.

Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci said, “Congratulations to Mi Viejito Pueblito, who with the help of Source The Station, was able to qualify for PSEG Long Island’s Vacant Space Program, which is helping fill once-vacant storefronts in Huntington Station and business districts around Long Island by offering one year of tiered discounts on their electric rates!”

“Mi Viejito Pueblito has been an incredible addition to the Huntington Station business community,” said County Legislator Tom Donnelly. “Thanks to PSEG Long Island for providing them resources to help grow Huntington Station’s economy and continue to revitalize the area.”

“On behalf of the Business Improvement District, We would like to congratulate Mr. and Mrs. Eulogio Valerio with their dream of opening Mi Viejito Pueblito restaurant in Huntington Station,” said Steve Conte, Business Improvement District president. “We would also like to thank Andrea Bonilla and PSEG Long Island for helping them get into that space. We wish you many, many years of success!”

For more information about the PSEG Long Island downtown revitalization programs, visit

Supervisor Jens-Smith Delivers Riverhead State of the Town

This past week saw Riverhead Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith deliver her second State of the Town Address to a standing-room-only crowd at the town hall meeting room.

Supervisor Jens-Smith delivered the address in an open forum at town hall as opposed to the usual joint dinner meeting at the local Rotary, Lions and Kiwanis clubs.  The speech provided a summary of the supervisor’s first full year in office as well as her initiatives and thoughts on the upcoming year. 

The Supervisor would use the speech to call for a comprehensive update of the town’s master plan, which was writing over 15 years ago in 2003.  This comes after a previous town board meeting where she asked for authorization to use a request for proposals for a consultant to write the new plan.  This ties into an initiative to repurpose empty retail sites on Route 48 for health care, assisted living, data storage, and shared work spaces.

“Sixteen years ago, we planned for a future based in large measure by an increase in the development of big box stores,” Jens-Smith said. “In this age of Amazon, we can’t tie our destiny to destination retail.”

The Supervisor accentuated the need for new, comprehensive planning in the face of new challenges arising from parking, safety, and zoning.  She also talked about recent efforts to reduce building heights and create a plan that is more in line with the character of Riverhead.

Her speech also touted new fiscal practices that have helped to create a budget that came in under operating expenses by $1.2 million last year.  This has allowed the Town to put $300,000 into a capital improvement fund for upgrades to local parks and recreational areas.  It will also allow a further $800,000 to be put into the Town’s reserve fund, which has been depleted by nearly $12 million.

Supervisor Jens-Smith also brought up the recent EPCAL land deal, vowing to ensure that the eventual buyer lives up to obligations for the Town.

You can read more here.

Riverhead Looks to Grant Funding for Security Cameras

Riverhead officials are considering the use of $160,379 in unused Community Development Block Grant funding to install security cameras at key downtown areas in the name of public safety.  The cameras would be part of a policing plan that Riverhead PD officials proposed this past fall.

The funding would be sued to purchase software necessary to run the cameras and to place them at Grangebel Park and the LIRR Station at Osborn Ave and Railroad Street.  This comes after Town officials became aware of the excess funding from a block grant that had been used with other projects.

In conjunction with the new cameras, police will expand foot patrols in the area and increase lighting on Main Street and parking districts.  There will also be a police call box system developed that will allow people in downtown to connect with police headquarters.

Block grant funding requires public input, so use of the funds will require public comment before it can be released.  Once that process is completed, 12 to 16 cameras will be placed in Grangabel Park and the LIRR station.  As further funding becomes available, the Town plans to install additional cameras.  Residents will have until May 10th to submit written comments on the proposal to Town Hall.  A vote on the proposal as expected at the May 22nd meeting.

Suffolk County holds hearing on proposed Nicolls Road Bus Rapid Transit

In December of 2014, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced a $1.5 million grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to be used toward planning, design and construction of a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system along Nicolls Road. This location was chosen as the initial site to implement BRT in Suffolk County in order to connect and enhance critical regional assets, including Stony Brook University, Ronkonkoma Hub and Patchogue Village. This project, part of the County’s Long Island Innovation Zone, will be Suffolk’s first north-south multimodal transportation corridor to feature dedicated lanes for rapid transit buses.

Some of the unique features of the BRT system include state-of-the-art Wi-Fi equipped buses, dedicated bus only lanes, traffic signal priority, queue jumps, boarding at well lit, safe and comfortable stations, pre-paid and electronic passes, and real-time bus location and arrival times.

A second public meeting regarding this project was held by Suffolk County Department of Economic Development and Planning on Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019. The purpose of the meeting was to provide information about the proposed road conversion and the project’s development process and status.

The presentation highlighted the use of an HOV Lane wherever feasible and where needed to accommodate traffic demand. It is being recommended between Sunrise Highway to the south and Mark Tree Road to the north. BRT vehicles would use the BRT/HOV Lane to bypass traffic congestion. Between NY Route 347 and Hospital Drive, BRT vehicles would operate in a new shoulder lane.  

Also discussed was a multi-use, north-south hiking/biking trail, situated generally parallel to Nicolls Road. This would offer another travel option and an alternative to reduce automobile usage.

The County is in the process of continuing necessary environmental studies, including noise analysis, air quality, and water quality. Assessment of effectiveness and consequences of recommendations are being performed, public feedback is being incorporated into the project, and the Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) is being refined, thereafter progressing to the final design.

Senator Anna Kaplan Introduces Ridesharing Safety Act

Senator Anna Kaplan of Mineola has introduced a new bill aimed at making the use of ridesharing services safer for its customers.

The bill comes in response to the tragic death of a University of South Carolina student named Samantha Josephson, who accidently entered a vehicle mistakenly thinking it was an Uber vehicle she had ordered.  She was later found murdered in a rural area. 

Senator Kaplan has since proposed the Samantha L. Josephson Ridesharing Safety Act, which amends the vehicle and traffic law to require ridesharing drivers to display visible, consistent, and distinctive signage that clearly identifies the service provider at all times.  This must be done when the driver on the service platform or providing a ridesharing service, and must be visible at 50 feet and illuminated so that the logo is patently visible.

“Without uniform identification for Uber and Lyft vehicles, it’s so easy to mistakenly get in the wrong car when you’re expecting to be picked-up” said Senator Kaplan. “But no family should have to experience such a terrible loss over a simple mistake.”

Natural Gas Supplies at Risk. Act Now!

There are dozens of communities across Long Island with plans underway whether it be in their residential, commercial, or downtown areas. In order to support this growth, upgrades to our infrastructure are needed to keep pace with development. Currently, the existing infrastructure supplying our natural gas does not have the capacity to keep pace with the demand created by this growth. This is not just an issue for Long Island but the northeast region. It is crucial to the growth and health of our downtowns that there be an adequate supply of access to natural gas. The Northeast Supply Enhancement project proposed by National Grid would assist in meeting this demand.

Vision Long Island is strongly asking for your support on this issue. Below is a message from John Bruckner, President, National Grid New York, further explaining the NESE project and how you can help.

Message from John Bruckner, President, National Grid New York

National Grid serves natural gas to millions of customers in New York Cityand Long Island every day. And every day the demand for natural gas continuesto grow.

This new growth comes from large commercial customers andsmaller mom-and-pop businesses – and they are all demanding natural gas. It’s clean, it’s affordable and it’s convenient. In addition, there is a growing demand from businesses and households to switch from oil to natural gas to save on energy bills andreduce greenhouse gases.

We support efforts to reduce energy consumption, alternative heating solutions such as geothermal, and advancing renewable energy — wind, solar or renewable natural gas — and stand ready to fully incorporate them into our energy mix.

But the reality is we just do not have enough gas supply to keep up with this growing demand. And renewable energy sources are not advanced enough to keep up with the pace of this demand.

That’s why we’ve asked Transco to build the Northeast Supply Enhancement project (NESE) which will provide an additional 14 percent ofthe natural gas we so desperately need to support the exceptional growth in New York City and on Long Island.

The fact of the matter is, without NESE, we will not be able to supply natural gas to new commercial, industrial and residential customers to heat their homes or run their businesses, putting the region’s economic growth at risk. Additionally, we will no longer be able to support requests from customers looking to convert from oil to natural gas.

We can’t do it without NESE. I can’t state it any more simply than that.

I hope you will view this short video to learn more about the need for additional gas supply in the region.

Also, time is of the essence. The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is scheduled to make a final decision on permitting this project in the April – May 2019 timeframe. Take immediate action by going directly to the Take Action Page to voice your support for this critical energy project.

Help Island Harvest Stamp Out Hunger on May 11th

The National ASSOC of Letter Carriers Food Drive is taking place on May 11th and is asking for your help in gathering non-perishable food items for the hungry.  All you need to do to participate is to leave a can of food or more at your mailbox on May 11th, and your postal carrier will pick it up for the drive.

This year they are looking for canned or dry beans, canned tuna, canned chicken, peanut butter (or other nut butters), nuts & seeds, canned fruit (in water or juice), canned vegetable (Low‑Sodium), low‑sodium pasta sauce, rolled oats, low‑sugar cereal, brown rice, quinoa, whole grain pasta, popcorn (light butter or kernels), shelf‑stable milk, olive or canola oil, and low‑sodium soup or stew.

As part of this, Island Harvest is seeking volunteers to help out at their warehouse on May 11th through 15th.  You can register to volunteer at and help to #StampOutHunger.

Please help to get the word out about this important event! You can view a flyer for the event .

Round 17 of Suffolk County Downtown Revitalization Now Available

Suffolk County Executive Steven Bellone and the Suffolk County Downtown Revitalization Citizens Advisory Panel are pleased to announce the availability of the Downtown Revitalization Round 17 Grant Applications. Eligible applicants must partnet with a local municipality (town of village). That application incorporates the Panel’s intent to support projects that will have an important and sustainable impact on downtowns. All applications will be reviewed and scored via a merit based grading system. Applications are due by 4:30pm on Friday, May 24, 2019

You can read the guidelines for the grants here.

You can download the application here.

Highway Safety Grants now Available

The Department of Motor Vehicles, through the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC), is now giving out Highway Safety Grants.

The Highway Safety Grants will be used to fund projects that address a particular highway safety problem. This proposal requires applicants to submit a narrative outline of the problem in their local jurisdiction with supporting data, details of the proposed activities with milestones and an evaluation plan. Proposals must address one of the program areas included in the state’s Highway Safety Strategic Plan, which can be found online at

Program areas considered for the general Highway Safety Grant funding include: occupant protection; traffic enforcement; motorcycle safety; traffic records; community programs; programs that impact younger drivers or older drivers; pedestrian safety; roadway safety and impaired driving.

Only governmental entities, not-for-profits and tribal organizations are eligible and can apply.  There is no funding restriction; however, funding is limited and competitive in nature.  Deadline for submittal is May 1, 2019  

For more information contact Mary Montimurro by phone at 518-474-5111, email at or website:

Opportunity Open for Public Transit Technology and Innovation Program

Program Opportunity Notice (PON) 3914, seeks proposals to develop and demonstrate innovative public transportation technologies and strategies that have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and associated energy consumption of the existing bus, rail, and connected intermodal transit systems in New York State (NYS).

Proposals should focus on new or underutilized solutions that can help transit agencies make tangible improvements to their operations while achieving real energy savings, especially in bus efficiency and electrified rail. Proposals should demonstrate a feasible path to economic viability and be replicable and relevant to transit agencies in NYS. The goal of this program is to develop and demonstrate innovative technologies and operational approaches that are required for New York’s public transportation systems, while contributing to the State’s energy and GHG reduction goals. : Concept papers will now be accepted on a rolling basis through November 20, 2019 or until all funds are committed. Additional minor changes are summarized in the Summary of Revisions.

For additional details and associated documents visit: PON 3914 Solicitation Detail Page

Questions and comments can be sent to or call (212) 971-5342 x3476.

Huntsville, AL Drives Traffic to Downtown with Craft Beer Trail

Downtown Huntsville, Alabama has seen a bit of an increase in foot traffic since buzz has been building around a simple and inexpensive promotion, the Downtown Huntsville Craft Beer Trail. 

The promotion is pretty straightforward: Beer lovers obtain a card at any of the seven microbreweries in the downtown area.  If a card holder purchases a brew at each location, they can receive a stainless steel bottle opener painted bright yellow and emblazoned with the words “Trail Boss.”

The promotion launched in 2017 and since then has seen over 6,000 cards passed out and over 1,000 bottle openers awarded.  Microbreweries cover the cost of the openers at about $1 each.  It’s great to see smart and new ways to encourage traffic in downtown areas and to get customers moving from business to business in such a fun way!

Smart Talk

Eric Alexander, Director; Tawaun Weber, Assistant Director; 
Christopher Kyle, Communications Director; Elissa Kyle, Placemaking Director; Jon Siebert, Administrative Director

We strive to provide continued quality publications like this every week. If you have any news or events that you would like to add to our newsletter, submit them to for consideration.

If you are interested in becoming a newsletter or news blast sponsor, please call the office at 631-261-0242 for rates and opportunities.

Vision Long Island
24 Woodbine Ave., Suite Two 
Northport, NY 11768 
Phone: 631-261-0242. Fax: 631-754-4452.

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