Smart Talk August 10th – 16th, 2019

Check out this week’s Smart Talk where we celebrate the awarding of the NYS $10 million DRI grant to Baldwin, review the new parking deal for the proposed Huntington Hotel, and more…

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August 10th – 16th, 2019


COMMUNITY UPDATES

Posillico

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The following are quotes from elected officials on the recent award of a $10 million DRI grant for downtown Baldwin:

 

“Baldwin did a great plan. First you built on your assets. Baldwin is on the Long Island Rail Road. Everything is transit-oriented development. The ambition of your program — an 87-acre rezoning — and what I find most fascinating about the plan, is I believe it will actually happen.” – New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo
“I think Baldwin has something that not many communities have. Everyone was pretty much on the same page. It is absolutely time for our downtown to live up to the greatness of our community. Let’s get this done.”– Nassau County Executive Laura Curran
“Downtown Baldwin is one vacant store after the next. I think that rips at the heart of the Baldwin community. For a variety of reasons development hasn’t happened. People are desperate for development to happen and a kick-start of the community. It’s long overdue and an embarrassment it’s taken this long. I can’t wait to put a shovel in the ground.” – Hempstead Town Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney
“Growing up, this corridor was so vibrant and so many stores bustling with life. Over time we saw businesses fail and that beautiful corridor suffered a decline. But we’re here today to revitalize it like never before.” – Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen

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Baldwin Wins $10 Million Downtown Revitalization Initiative Grant

Vision Board members and supporters were out this week along with the Baldwin Civic, chamber community partners and local elected officials from the Town of Hempstead, Nassau County, and New York State for a special meeting to learn that Governor Cuomo has announced Baldwin as the winner of the NYS DRI $10 million grant!

“Baldwin did a great plan. First you built on your assets. Baldwin is on the Long Island Rail Road. Everything is transit-oriented development,” Governor Cuomo said. “The ambition of your program — an 87-acre rezoning — and what I find most fascinating about the plan, is I believe it will actually happen.”

This award is a giant step on the path to revitalization for the Grand Ave Corridor, which has been a priority for the community for years now.  The path has been long and featured a number of local leaders, elected officials, and residents working towards the goal.  These include:

Town of Hempstead Councilwoman for the Baldwin area, Erin King Sweeney, spearheaded a new rezoning effort, and has held monthly meetings for Baldwin residents and business owners keeping the project on track.  “Downtown Baldwin is one vacant store after the next. I think that rips at the heart of the Baldwin community. For a variety of reasons development hasn’t happened,” said Councilwoman King-Sweeney. “People are desperate for development to happen and a kick-start of the community. It’s long overdue and an embarrassment it’s taken this long. I can’t wait to put a shovel in the ground.”

Town of Hempstead Senior Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby has worked to ensure that all voices in the community are heard from the bottom up.

Town of Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen has worked in a bipartisan fashion to support redevelopment in Baldwin, and her staff have had an ongoing presence in assisting as well.  “Growing up, this corridor was so vibrant and so many stores bustling with life,” said the Supervisor. “Over time we saw businesses fail and that beautiful corridor suffered a decline. But we’re here today to revitalize it like never before.”

Nassau County Legislator Deborah Mule has led the roadway and traffic calming improvements on Grand Ave.

NYS Senator Todd Kaminsky and Assemblywoman Judy Griffin have supported major grant programs for the area.

The Baldwin Civic Association has pushed for true mixed use development along Grand Avenue for many years. The civic has hosted most of the planning meetings that have engaged local residents.

The Baldwin Chamber of Commerce has been working with local property owners to reduce vacancy rates in, and bring more businesses to, the area.

“I think Baldwin has something that not many communities have,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said. “Everyone was pretty much on the same page. It is absolutely time for our downtown to live up to the greatness of our community. Let’s get this done.”

Vision has been involved for a while now as well.  We have helped to provide planning and outreach services as part of the Grand Ave Corridor Study commissioned by Nassau County between 2016-2017, The Town of Hempstead Grand Ave Overlay District GEIS that started in 2018, and is just about finished in 4th quarter 2019 both with VHB Engineers.  We have also provided input to the new roadway plan and were a part of the Federal Sustainability TOD study in 2014.

As part of that input, Vision was out at a public meeting in Baldwin with Town of Hempstead Councilman Erin King Sweeney and a dozen department heads from the Town and NCPD earlier this week as well.  Issues included the just-announced NYS DRI Award, the Town’s Grand Ave overlay plan, public safety, Building Dept process, and infrastructure projects. Vision and VHB’s Marwa Farwaz updated the community on the DRI and revitalization efforts including the public hearing for the overlay district on Sept. 3rd.

This was another step in the great collaborative group of community and small business leaders working with their local government. This process of bringing multiple departments directly to the community is a great model of helping manage local places in an unincorporated hamlet in a big Town.

In short, we all have collectively spent an enormous amount of time and resources laying the groundwork for this important effort.

Vision has enjoyed working with the Baldwin civics and chamber, Town, and County officials who have worked collaboratively to see redevelopment along the Grand Ave corridor and bring back their downtown!

You can read more about the grant at Newsday here and at News 12 here, and more on Baldwin’s process for redevelopment in the Herald here.

Huntington Approves Parking Lot Deal for Downtown Hotel

Huntington Hotel Village Partners, who are seeking to build a new hotel at the Old Town Hall building in downtown Huntington, have won approval to use a small number of spaces in the Town Hall parking lot.

Under the agreement, the new boutique hotel will pay $25,000 the first year and then $26,500 the second to use spaces from 5:30 pm Fridays through 2 am Mondays.  This will allow for either a parking service or valet parking for the hotel.  The agreement will not take effect until the hotel has acquired a certificate of occupancy.
The Town Board voted 4-1 to approve the deal last week with Councilman Mark Cuthbertson recusing himself.  The deal mirrors another one struck with the Paramount that allows that venue use of Town Hall parking spots as well as spots in the downtown and at the LIRR station for $16,000 a year.

The proposed hotel will be located in Huntington’s downtown historic overlay district, which will allow for some flexibility when designing the project.  This 80 room facility will be a complimentary use for a village that is a destination for arts, music, and has over 70 restaurants.   Vision has supported this project at multiple public hearings and is glad to see the momentum.

You can read more at Huntington Now here.

Vision Tours Farmingdale with North Hempstead Councilwoman Lurvey

Vision was out last week in downtown Farmingdale with North Hempstead Councilwoman Veronica Lurvey and Manhasset community leader Sue Hampton-Auriemma​​.

We toured Main Street, stopped in local businesses and of course met up with Mayor Ralph Ekstrand​​. Great to share ideas about redevelopment and support for small businesses.

Town of Oyster Bay Celebrates Indian Independence in Hicksville

Vision Board and staff were out in Hicksville today joining the South Asian Advisory Board and Town of Oyster Bay officials for the raising of the Indian Independence Flag.

Great to see the diversity of the Hicksville community represented in Town government and in downtown revitalization efforts.

Kudos to South Asian Chamber’s Harry Malhotra, Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino, Councilman Steve Labriola, Nassau Legislator Rose Walker and many others for this special event.

Island Park Officials Push for Wind Power at Generation Station

Local Officials are calling on National Grid to repurpose the E.F. Barrett Generation Station in Island Park for renewable wind energy.

This past July several officils that included NYS Senator Todd Kaminsky and Island Park Mayor Michael McGinty sent a letter to both National Grid and Equinor Wind to urge them to relocate the cable-receiving connection site of the Empire Wind Project to the Island Park station.  Equinor Wind has been tapped by the state to build and operate clean energy facilities 20 miles south of Long Island and East of the Rockaways.

“Located directly north of the prospective wind farm, [the Barrett Power Plant] would strategically place your interconnection point midway between Long Island and New York City, thereby generating the potential to provide both regions with clean energy and green jobs,” Kaminsky and McGinty wrote in the letter. “[The plant] has been underutilized for far too long.”

The Island Park facility has been the focus of some controversy in recent years as LIPA has sought to reduce the property taxes for the plant over the protests of the local community.  Local officials believe that repurposing the plant will give it new life and bring a number of new, green jobs to the region.

National Grid and Wind Equinor responded by stating that they were committed to NYS’s clean energy goals and would continue to operate under that goal.  Wind Equinor is open to using the new facility in the future, but would not commit to such a move presently.

You can read more Long Island Herald here.

Port Jefferson’s Harborfront Park Debuts New Stage

The community is celebrating a longtime resident, Jill Nees-Russell, by dedicating a new performance stage in her honor at Harborfront Park.

The project began last year when Ms. Nees-Russell lost her battle with cancer.  Her friend, Carolyn Benson from East Setauket, along with landscape engineer Michael Opisso, worked together to find a place to dedicate in her memory. 

Nees-Russell came to Port Jeff from Los Angeles years ago and became involved in the community.  She worked alongside village officials and eventually became the Director of Economic Development and Public Relations for the Village, and worked with the Port Jeff Arts Council, the PJ School of Rock, and partnered with the Long Island Music Hall of Fame.

“Dedicating this perfect stage to Jill is special,” said Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant said. “She was a huge advocate for the arts within the community… dedicating this stage to her made sense and it was something the community could get behind.”

The result was a 15 x 25 foot half-circle wood stage on the harbor.  The stage was built with the help of over 500 volunteers and money portioned out for the memorial.  It was officially debuted on August 10th with a concert that commemorated and celebrated Jill Nees-Russell.

You can read more at TBR News Media here.

Suffolk County Announces Plan to Fight Nitrogen Pollution

Suffolk County is loking to address the ongoing issues of nitrogen pollution with an ambitious plan aimed at transitioning away from cesspools and septic systems.

Dubbed the Subwatersheds Wastewater Plan, the initiative would invest $4 billion in a program to fight nitrogen pollution.  The project will last for 50 years and creates a framework for the replacement of 253,000 old, inadequate septic systems.  The new systems replacing them will be either nitrogen-reducing or simply connections to local sewer systems.

This plan comes as almost three-quarters of the County remains unsewered and reliant an old, outdated system of waste disposal.  Studies have shown that a vast majority of nitrogen found in the bay and local groundwater comes from these systems.  Over 190 individual watershed areas in the county have been identified as in need of nitrogen reduction. 

“Scientists have warned that continued reliance on primitive wastewater disposal systems is a mounting threat to both our environment and our economy,” said Dr. James Tomarken, Suffolk health commissioner. “Now, for the first time, there is a long-term plan to diminish nitrogen pollution and put Suffolk County on a path to cleaner, healthier water resources.”

The plan will be implemented in phases, with the first one being financed by $500 million already allocated for replacement of local cesspools and septic systems or new connections to sewer systems.  The second phase, which is set to begin in 2024, will eliminate over 175,000 cesspools and septic systems in high priority areas such as shoreline properties.  The final phase will be the completion of all other priority areas across a 15-year span.

The plan will now go to review by Suffolk County’s Council on Environmental Quality and will also need an environmental impact statement.  Once that comes a 30-day comment period will begin and two public hearings will be scheduled.

You can read more at TBR News Media here.

Hicksville Revitalization Driven by Community Input

The following is a response to a newsday editorial on Hicksville that appears here.

Varying regional interests were given voice by Newsday today to call on the Town of Oyster Bay to advance a number of projects in Hicksville.

The call to pick up the pace on revitalization projects and the new zoning planned around the train station was actually pretty awesome. Lumping in the proposed Sears retail and housing as part of any approvals was tone deaf to the many community members who have said time and time again that that project is too large and is not the community’s downtown.

The train station area is, and that is where redevelopment should occur first. The Town of Oyster Bay officials have been right to slow that project down.

The good news that is also missing from the editorial is that the train station area has projects that are approved or pending approval that do the things the community told us they want. Seven mixed use downtown projects are poised to bring housing right by the train station with retail and office space to clean up existing older buildings and bring back to life a true main street feel.

A fair amount of work from developers proposing these projects and Town officials reviewing has been underway that is also not reflected in the article.

One thing the editorial got right is keeping the spotlight on the MTA to follow through on their promise for at least one parking garage. They are building one now in Westbury and the influx of riders from their 3rd track expansion need places to park and not in front of the shops and homes of Hicksville businesses and residents. The MTA, its own large regional government. should not forget Hicksville residents stepping up and supporting the 3rd track with the promise of additional parking infrastructure.

It is common to complain about what hasn’t happened but we should also take a second to reflect on what has happened in Hicksville in the last few years:

– A community plan was created with the engagement of the Hicksville Chamber, Hicksville Community Council and other community organizations.

– Resulting zoning code proposal and two public meetings with over 1,000 residents combined participating with positive feedback.

– Support secured for the $100 million LIRR improvement project

– Flourishing Indian, South Asian, and other diverse community private investment in small business and office space.

– Support for 3rd Track from the local community and commitment for a parking garage from the MTA

– Securing the second $10 million NYS Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) grant.

– Drafting plans from the DRI to meet local needs – revisions ongoing.

– Keeping the Sears project at bay until some version of it is of a scale that the community can accept and does not negatively impact the downtown train station area.

– New sign code to crack down on the proliferation of signs on local businesses.

– Calling for further pedestrian improvements for downtown area with AARP & Vision LI walking tour and report

– Preliminary traffic improvements from DOT on 106/107 including countdown timers and new lights.

– Complete Streets Study underway with Nassau County to provide more road improvements.

– Final review pending approval for the new station area zoning code the Town of Oyster Bay.

– Seven new downtown development proposals moving through the approval process with one under construction.

Should there be another dozen items underway and should they have taken less time – of course – but aligning the interests of local community members and businesses is always less likely under bigger government. The lack of trust built over decades of inaction in Hicksville was the biggest hurdle which only gets worse with the daily reminders of mistrust in big government.

Instead of pushing for big regional government and removed decision making we should take a second to ask – “If Hicksville were an incorporated Village would this revitalization effort lifted off the ground over a decade ago?” Of course we know the answer as the best examples of downtown revitalization on Long Island are in incorporated Villages.

In fairness to the Town of Oyster Bay leadership of today – the many years of corruption from the former Planning Commissioner are what truly delayed these projects. That problem does not exist any more so the Town should move forward in the coming months with train station area projects.

We are confident that enough groundwork has been laid from local civics and the chamber and existing Town officials to make progress but always good to keep the pressure on.

Urge Governor Cuomo to Sign Transportation Legislation for E-bikes and E-Scooters

A bill to expand New York’s transportation options passed the State Legislature this June.

A. 7431/S. 5294 by Rozic/Ramos would legalize e-bikes and e-scooters, low-emission forms of transportation that can help combat climate change.

With the recent adoption of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, New York is required to reduce emissions in every sector of the economy. E-bikes and e-scooters would help New York address its #1 contributor to climate change – transportation.

But Governor Cuomo has not yet signed the legislation and may even veto it.

You can help us make sure the legislation is signed into law by sending him a message that you support the bill! >>>

E-bikes and e-scooters are safer than cars, emit no greenhouse gases, and are small and easily storable, making them ideal modes of eco-friendly transportation for urban areas. They can displace car trips, which is not only good for the environment but also makes the road less congested. They can also help New Yorkers who may not live within walking distance from public transportation, bridging divides in underserved neighborhoods by connecting people to the nearest train, bus, or ferry stop.

These micromobility options are already a success in other cities. A study from Portland, Oregon found that 34% of people chose e-scooters over cars, taxis, and rideshares.

E-bikes are already used by thousands of New Yorkers, many of whom are immigrant delivery workers. However, these e-bikes are often confiscated by the police, which disrupts livelihoods, exposes people who have done nothing wrong to the criminal justice system, and takes away an efficient and environmentally-friendly mode of transportation.

It’s clear that legalizing e-bikes and e-scooters would help fight our climate crisis while expanding our transportation options.

Tell Governor Cuomo that you support this legislation and you want him to sign it now! >>>

In the coming weeks Vision will be conducting an e-scooter demo to show the viability of this transportation option. Please contact us at info@visionlongisland.org if you’re interested in joining.

Farmingdale Music on Main to be held on August 22nd

Farmingdale is holding its final Music on Main event on August 22nd with a rain date of August 29th.  Walk along Main Street between Prospect Street and South Front Street to sample some local food and music.

 The streets will be closed to auto traffic in order to make space for this fun, family friendly event.  Admission is free for all.  There is a rain date set for August 29th.  The event is presented by participating Farmingdale Village Merchants and local sponsors.

The event is a summer long showcase of what makes Farmingdale one of Long Island’s fastest growing hot spots!

You can find more information here.

Ronkonkoma Street Fair to take place on September 1st

The Annual Ronkonkoma Street Fair will take place on Sunday, September 1st, in Ronkonkoma.  Hosted by the Ronkonkoma Chamber of Commerce, the Fair will be held from 11 am to 6 pm on Hawkins Avenue.  The event will feature over 200 vendors, live entertainment, food, arts & crafts, merchandise, children’s rides, and more.

Limited Vendor Space is available.  Please contact ClearviewFestical.com or 646-230-0489 for more information.

4th Annual LI Bike Parade to be held on September 14th

Join the NY Coalition for Transportation Safety, LI Transportation Alliance, Long Island Streets, the Ethical Humanist Society of LI, and the Village of Hempstead for the 4th Annual LI Bike Parade on Sept 14, 2019.

Participation is completely FREE. Parade follows a 2-mile loop with police escort.  There will be cash prizes for the best “bike floats”.   Those who prefer to walk can join the walking tour, which begins at 260 Clinton Ave at noon.

Visit their webpage at http://litransportationalliance.org/parade2019 for a registration form and more information about the parade. Show your support for a more walk-able and bike-able Long Island!  You can email CONTACT@LITRANSPORTATIONALLIANCE.ORG for more information.

Scholarship Available for Pedestrian Safety and Education Video

Walk Safe Long Island, a collaborative of health and transportation safety educators from across Nassau and Suffolk Counties, wants your help in educating Long Islanders on how to stay safe.  Walk Safe Long Island will be awarding scholarships to two students who submit an educational video to the Pedestrian Education Video Scholarship Competition.

The first place winner will receive a scholarship for $2,000; Second place will receive $1,000.

INSTRUCTIONS

Please create a short video that illustrates one or more of the Vehicle and Traffic Laws for Pedestrian Enforcement as detailed by the New York State Department of Transportation  ​Feel free to use as inspiration and/or reference the DoT’s materials on pedestrian education, most importantly, the See! Be Seen! campaign

Answer the question, “Why is it important to educate Long Islanders about pedestrian and traffic safety?” (Please answer the question in the space provided within the submission form.)

Submit your video and answer at walksafeli.org/video. The deadline is Saturday, August 31st

For more information on full criteria for the video and how to submit, please head to Walk Safe Long Island’s website here.

Riverhead Boat Race Releases Photo Gallery

The popular Riverhead Cardboard Boat Race once again drew hundreds to the Peconic Riverfront Saturday to watch paddlers battle it out in festive makeshift vessels.

There were five races this year, including the Youth Regatta and the The Supervisor’s Cup — a showdown between Riverhead supervisor Laura Jens-Smith and Southampton supervisor Jay Schneiderman. That race ended in a tie with Mr. Schneiderman stating, “We share the Peconic River, so it’s right that we share the trophy as well.”

The prize for Most Creative went to “The League of Awesome Cardboard Boat Builders” Batmobile while “The Crazy Coconut” won for Best Constructed.

Other winners included “Hankie Pooh!” for the Spirit Award, the “LEGO Express” for Best Captain and “Jukebox Hero” for Commanders Choice.

See more photos of the event by Elizabeth Wagner here.

Smart Talk

Contributors:
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 info@visionlongisland.org for consideration.

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Vision Long Island
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Phone: 631-261-0242. Fax: 631-754-4452.
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