Smart Talk August 18th – 24th, 2018

Check out this week’s Smart Talk where we take a look at a proposed TOD project in Lynbrook, approval of a 62-unit mixed-use building in downtown Smithtown, purchase of land for municipal parking in Kings Park, and more…

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August 18th – 24th, 2018


REGIONAL UPDATES

The Engel Burman Group

In real estate development, you make a name for yourself not only by the projects you complete, but also by the company you keep. This is why the principals of The Engel Burman Group are always actively networking — remaining both in touch and in step with the communities they help build. While the management team is comprised of seasoned real estate professionals, the organization is driven every day by the youth and energy of the next generation. The effect of this collective experience makes for a formidable formula: The Engel Burman Group is proven, but hungry; careful, but courageous; wise, but willing to break new ground.

“This will be the first opportunity for a young person, a young professional coming out of college that cannot afford to buy a single-family home on a half-acre of property, to have an avenue to live in the business district. It puts them in walkable distance to restaurants, a railroad station and everything they really require.” – Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim speaking on the approval of 62 downtown apartments in Smithtown

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New 200-Unit TOD and Parking Garage Proposed in Lynbrook

 

Farmingdale-based developer Terwilliger & Bartone Properties is proposing to build a transit-oriented apartment complex in Lynbrook as part of a $75 million project. 

The proposed site is nearly 2 acres located on the southwest corner of Earle Avenue and St. James Place just blocks away from the Lynbrook rail station. Currently, it is home to a small office building and an underutilized parking lot.  The transformation will result in 200 rental apartments, as well as a new parking garage and park to be donated to the village as part of the community benefits. The proposed Cornerstone at Lynbrook will consist of  market-rate rental mix of studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments with 10 percent of the units dedicated to workforce housing. With a covered parking on the ground level for residents, onsite management, leasing, and maintenance, Cornerstone at  Lynbrook includes such amenities as a fitness center, a club room with fireplace, pool table and television, a courtyard and a rooftop patio.

The Smart Growth Award winner also included in their proposal a new parking garage for 400 vehicles and a new 9,000-square-foot park that will be built on a nearly 1-acre parcel owned by the village nearby. The garage will be used for commuter parking  to offset the loss of the parking on the project site, accommodate the new need for spaces by the proposed additional housing, overflow to visitors to help elevate parking congestion by the rail. 

“Our entire team is extremely excited to have the opportunity to make this proposal in the Village of Lynbrook,” said Vision Long Island Board Member and developer Anthony Bartone. “We believe this project will provide an immeasurable boost to downtown businesses, while at the same time provide much-needed additional parking for Lynbrook residents” also noting that  a downtown revitalization study performed by the village identified the proposed Cornerstone site as a good candidate for a multifamily development.

Vision’s Director, Eric Alexander, explained that the proposal should be a good fit for the village’s downtown saying, “It’s the right type of project for Lynbrook to get its oar in the water on transit-oriented development…  The public benefits also compliment the village’s thoughtful planning around parking and public space.”

A public hearing on the proposal is expected to be scheduled for next month.

For more on this story, visit LIBN.

Smithtown Purchases Vacant Kings Park Lots for Municipal Parking

The Town of Smithtown has approved the $280,000 purchase of two lots in downtown Kings Park that will be used for municipal parking.

The effort to purchase the land began with a petition by Park Bake Shop owners Lucy and Gabe Shtanko, who garnered more than 600 signatures from local residents.  The Town has been making efforts since 2014 to purchase the empty land from the owner, who wasn’t interested in selling.  Smithtown had brought up the possibility of seizure through eminent domain but was able to reach an agreement this past week.

“It demonstrates a fundamental shift in the way the Town of Smithtown has treated municipal parking,” said Kings Park Chamber of Commerce president Tony Tanzi.  “Every little bit we add makes it so another pocket of downtown can become successful.  It’s going to have a compound effect.”

The purchase will go a long way in shoring up off street parking for the hamlet, which is in the midst of a revitalization effort spearheaded by the local Chamber of Commerce and Civic Association.  It is hoped that the new lots will free up on-street parking for more short-term customers and boost foot traffic to local businesses.  The effort has also included securing of funds to increase sewage capacity in the downtown through a state grant.

Vision has been involved in the revitalization process for Kings Park and is happy to see this initiative by the local community move forward.

You can read more here and here.

Smithtown Approves Mixed-Use Building with 62 Downtown Apartments

The Town Board of Smithtown has unanimously approved 62 apartments for their downtown in a mixed-use development.

The development, currently known as The Lofts at Maple & Main, will be developed by East Hampton-based VEA 181st Realty Corp. and will be located at the former site of Nassau Suffolk Lumber & Supply Company.  A mixed-use, three-story building will front Main Street, providing 12 one-bedroom and 14 two-bedroom units on the top two floors with 9,400 square feet of retail on the first. 

Set back behind the building Main Street building will be three additional three-story apartment buildings with 12 primarily 2-bedroom units in each.  There will also be 6 affordable workforce housing units in the development.  Smithtown is confident that these new residents will help to drive the revitalization of the local downtown.

“This will be the first opportunity for a young person, a young professional coming out of college that cannot afford to buy a single-family home on a half-acre of property, to have an avenue to live in the business district,” said Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim. “It puts them in walkable distance to restaurants, a railroad station and everything they really require.”

The developer did make some concessions to the Town for approval, such as reducing the building heights from four stories to three, but the Town Board did note that it was pleased with the approval process.  The developer will still need to get approval from the Suffolk County Board of Health for on-site sewage treatment, which is expected to happen in a few weeks’ time.  Construction is expected to begin immediately after.

Vision Long Island honored the project in the Town of Smithtown back in 2014 with a Long Island Smart Growth Award. It is encouraging to see this project move forward, especially at the former lumber site that had been marked for mixed-use development since the former building was razed.

You can read more here.

Hicksville Commuters Brace for LIRR Parking Garage Closure

Hicksville commuters are preparing for a whole host of headaches as a nearby parking garage will shut down for a full 3 months beginning September 12th.

The closure represents a loss of 1,440 spaces for Long Island’s largest LIRR station as the Town sues the contractor over the needed repairs to the structure.  Local leaders are planning to shuttle residents from the former Sears parking lot and will begin restriping in preparation for the increased parking needs in the coming week.  Town permits will be required.

This all comes as there has been heightened scrutiny on the safety of the roads surrounding the station.  Vision Long Island has been working closely with local civics to affect change in the area for both safety and commuter issues.  A big part of that is the difficulty involved in negotiating 4 lanes of speeding traffic to get to the station from certain parking spots.

“Roads are designed for high-speed traffic to move as many cars through as quickly as possible,” said Vision Long Island Placemaking Director Elissa Kyle.  “You can’t expect people to walk 300 or 400 feet out of their way to get to crosswalk.”

Residents are calling for a variety of improvements in the area, including a pedestrian walkway, improved crosswalks, curbing, trees, a new driveway into the station, and 200 new mixed-use residential units.  This is all being considered and more as part of the $10 million DRI grant Hicksville received from NYS that is being dispersed for improvements.

You can read more here.

North Fork Community Theatre Celebrates 60th Season with Renovation

A Mattituck mainstay will get a facelift as the North Fork Community Theatre (NFCT) marks its 60th season with a series of renovations.

A week after the final actor would leave its stage, the theater board gathered with sledgehammers in a ceremonial groundbreaking as they tore up part of the stage.  A group of supporters gathered to watch the ceremony, looking forward to a 2019 reopening which will feature an upgraded theater that hopes to hold onto its local charm.

“We really want to make this a premier theatrical destination and in order to do that, we need to have the right facilities,” according to theater board president Mary Kalich.

The NFCT has been in its current building, a reconstituted church located in downtown Mattituck, for more than 50 years.  The troupe purchased the building from the Mattituck Presbyterian Church in 2012 after a 20-year lease was ended and they were presented with the options of purchasing the building or finding another space.  They were able to raise the necessary $500,000 to purchase the building outright and display how much the local community cared for the theatre.

Since then the NFCT has conducted minor repairs and upgrades to both the exterior and interior of the building.  An emphasis was placed on keeping the original charm of the building, mostly at the behest of a theater board comprised mostly of people with fond memories of acting or working at the theater as a youth. 

More serious infrastructure renovations will now be underway including expanding the orchestra pit, rearranging the seats, creating a rehearsal space in the basement, backstage improvements and leveling, and a new, modern lighting system being just some of the planned changes.  The estimated cost is $950,000, with funds secured almost entirely from community sources.

You can read more here.

State Senator Phillips Wants Proposed LIRR Fare Increases to Wait

New York State Senator Elaine Phillips wrote a letter to MTA Chairman Joseph Lhoa earlier this week, urging the LIRR to postpone a proposed 4% fare increase set to begin next year until performance improves.

“Rather than add to the stress and expense of commuters for service that is by almost any measure not holding up to its promises or commuters’ expectations, I believe the MTA should delay any fare increase until the LIRR meets a specific set of predetermined standards of improved service,” wrote Phillips, who included improvements in on-time performance, customer satisfaction, and the rate of equipment breakdowns and delays as meaningful improvements.

Last year marked the worst on-time performance in 18 years for the Long Island Railroad, with Phillip Eng being selected as LIRR’s president to work on the issue. Through his LIRR Forward initiative, Eng has begun to work on ways to improve service, however, service disruptions over the past few months have overshadowed the progress.

“We understand riders’ frustrations when train service is impacted, and that’s why Long Islanders are seeing so much improvement work underway right now on the LIRR system,” LIRR spokeswoman Sarah Armaghan said. “New LIRR President Phil Eng is aggressively forging ahead with the LIRR Forward program, tackling our most problematic areas and making sure that improvements can be seen and felt as quickly as possible.”

A series of public hearings will be held later on this year for the public to give input of the proposed fare increases. You can read more about Senator Phillips’ urging to pause potential fare increases for 2019 here

LIRR Double Track Project to be Completed by End of Summer

After three years of work, the LIRR’s double-track project is on the cusp of completion, promising improved service between the Ronkonkoma and Farmingdale lines.

The $500 million project represents the commuter line’s largest capacity expansion in decades.  Once the final tracks are laid the LIRR’s Main Line will run on at least two tracks all the way from Manhattan to Ronkonkoma.  This will allow for easier routing around stalled trains and other disruptions and also create the possibility for more frequent reverse-peak service for commuters coming into Suffolk.

“Double Track will make adjacent communities more desirable,” said Kyle Strober, executive director for the Association for a Better Long Island, “serve as a catalyst for the revitalizations underway at the Ronkonkoma Hub and Wyandanch Rising, aid in the reinvention of property around Republic Airport and assist in unlocking MacArthur Airport’s true potential as a regional airport.”

However, the project has not come without some headaches, as required service outages were implemented to work on the line including the elimination of overnight train service between Hicksville and Ronkonkoma on weekdays.  The outages were necessary for the final push that is currently underway and has the LIRR confident in its timeline for completion. 

Officials have stated that the full potential of the Double Track will be opened once other regional infrastructure projects are complete.  These include the third track project in Floral Park and Hicksville and well as the East Side Access link to Grand Central Terminal.  Those project are expected to be complete in 2023, significantly boosting ridership for North America’s busiest commuter rail.

You can read more here.

Why are Fire Officials Hung Up on Street Widths?

The following op-ed originally appears at the CNU Public Square webpage.

Last week the Baltimore City Council voted to repeal the “20-foot-clear” requirement for fire access on city streets—replacing that standard with more flexible rules recommended by the National Association of City Transportation Officials.

The change, which the mayor is considering signing, would allow for narrower automobile travel ways that accommodate bike lanes on certain streets—and some officials say this will encourage neighborhood revitalization.

The change was opposed by fire officials, who said it would compromise public safety. Members of the fire department feel so strongly about this that firefighters have been accused of assaulting and bullying bicycle lane proponents. New urbanists have long argued that the 20-foot-clear requirements—and 26-foot-clear, which Baltimore imposes on some streets—instead compromise public safety, health, and quality of life. As I report in this article, new urbanists have strong, long-term evidence that fire officials are wrong.

The Baltimore proposal is notable because fire officials have long gotten their way in this debate. At first glance, the issue seems straightforward: Fire trucks need a certain amount of space—generally 10 feet—and they need to maneuver around other emergency response equipment at the scene.

This is a question of dimensions and geography. We can all imagine a situation where, because of the street width, a truck can’t properly maneuver at a fire scene. That’s not good if access to a building is restricted or blocked.

The problem is data shows that narrow streets have the opposite impact on public safety from what one would expect by simply considering that one dimension. An investigation by The Boston Globe in 2005 showed that fire response is much faster on the skinny streets of Boston1, many of which don’t meet the 20-foot-clear requirements, than in the wide-open thoroughfares of the suburbs. In dense cities like Boston, Somerville, and Cambridge, firefighters reached fires within six minutes 97 to 99 percent of the time. In the suburbs, the figure was 58 percent—and it had dropped from 75 percent over the previous two decades.

A study in Longmont, Colorado, looked at both fire and automobile injury accidents over an eight-year period. The narrower the street, the safest it proved to be overall. It turns out that the narrow streets, which don’t meet 20-foot-clear requirements, have few injury accidents—regardless of all other conditions on the street, including volume of traffic. Fire injuries were very rare during this time period—much less common and automobile injuries—and there was no correlation with street width. The very safest streets were 24-foot-wide streets, often with on-street parking.

Given the dimensions of skinny streets, how is this possible? And if it is true, why do fire officials, whose profession is centered on public safety, oppose narrow streets?

The problem is not fire officials’ focus on dimensions and geography. The problem is that they focus on only one aspect of dimensions and geography. According to the research, the broader view allows for a better assessment of risk.

Take the City of Baltimore, which is built on a grid. Most of the central part of the city, including downtown and neighborhoods extending all around downtown for several miles, have blocks sizes that average 2 acres. These blocks are very narrow, often less than 200 feet wide. They are generally from 300 to 500 feet long. These dimensions allow properties to be accessed from a number of different directions. If a street is blocked, you can go around and get there very quickly, especially when you consider that hoses are 200 feet long.

The street grid, with its small blocks and narrow streets, enables far greater density than the conventional suburban pattern. That means that fire companies have shorter distance to travel to the fire. In a dense city, more fire houses are located within a given distance of every property than is possible in spread-out suburbs. Gridded street networks offer many more possible routes to get to a site if there is congestion. Those factors related to the geography of blocks and neighborhoods in cities are the reasons why response times are faster in cities, as shown in The Boston Globe report.

The geography related to blocks in cities like Baltimore is remarkably stable. These blocks and streets provided good access 150 years ago, and they provide good access today. They will probably provide good access 150 years from now.

Moreover, the small blocks and skinny streets slow down traffic and simultaneously benefit mobility in four ways.

1) They enable walkability, bikability, and choice in how to get around. 

2) The density in this pattern allows for more frequent transit service, which which adds to transportation choice and takes more drivers off the road.

3) All users of streets have orders of magnitude more choices in terms of routes to get to places, which disperses traffic and allows people to avoid congestion.

4) The density and mixed-use of this pattern allow people to travel shorter distances.

But it is the slower speeds that reduces the severity of accidents, and therefore the injuries and deaths. A study of California cities showed that the pre-1950 pattern of small blocks and skinny streets correlates with one-third the automobile accident deaths. Because there are 10 times as many deaths from cars as from fires, overall public safety is greatly enhanced by fewer automobile deaths. Furthermore, there is no empirical evidence that fire safety is compromised by skinny streets, when combined with a connected network of small blocks.

There are more factors to consider as well. The enormous numbers of vacant properties in Baltimore are the biggest fire risk. If safer streets, with slower moving traffic, encourage neighborhood revitalization, fire safety will be enhanced.

So how do we answer the questions in boldface above? First, the impacts of the street width is overridden by the street networks and small blocks. Second, fire officials are focused only on the dimensions and geography of street width, and they ignore or fail to understand the factors related to street networks and small blocks.

As officials deal with policies on public safety, the view needs to be broad enough to see the overall public safety picture. Overall dimensions of the city and neighborhood matter more than street widths in isolation. Baltimore City Council’s action is encouraging, and let’s hope the mayor follows through and that fire officials begin to understand the full impact of skinny streets within a fine-grained urban network.

The dimensions of streets and blocks have wide impacts on people’s lives every day—not just on the rare occasions when a fire occurs. Fire officials need a broad understanding of the range of dimensions that affect public safety and livability—and learn to work with dimensions that deliver the most benefits to the most people. Fire officials’ interests should be taken into account, but not above those of the broader community.

Island to Table Returns to Patchogue on August 26th

The Island to Table outdoor dining experience is set to return to Patchogue for a third consecutive year on Sunday, August 26th.  It will be located at Michael E. Reilly Memorial Park (Fireman’s Park) near the Great South Bay in Patchogue.  Tickets are $150 each. Cocktails start at 5 pm with the first course set to begin at 6 pm.

The 5-course dinner is a fundraiser run by HomeGrown Change, a local sustainability and educational group focused on teaching young people the ins and outs of gardening.  Last year’s event was a sellout, raising over $10,000 for the organization.

You can purchase tickets for the event online here, and email HomeGrown Change with questions and comments here.

Annual Riverhead Cardboard Boat Race Rescheduled to Sunday, August 26th

The Riverhead Cardboard Boat Race on the Peconic Riverfront is setting sail again on Sunday, Aug. 26th. After getting rained out on the initial Saturday date. The free event hosted by the Riverhead Business Improvement District attracts hundreds to the dock to cheer on the duct-taped vessels.

Get there early to secure your spot on the waterfront. The event starts at 9 a.m.

You can check out the event website here.

Mastic Beach Blueclaw Crab Fest Sunday Aug. 26th

This Sunday, August 26th Mastic Beach Property Owners’ Association will be holding their 14th Annual Blue Claw Crab
Festival. The Festival as usual will be packed with food and drinks, vendors, fun for the kids, and live music. There is no entrance fee, so go on down and enjoy the day!

To alleviate some of the parking issues, attendees can park at the MBPOA clubhouse parking lot on Neighborhood Road and take the shuttle.

MBPOA is also looking to hire help for the day with traffic, and clean- up afterwards. Those interested must be 18 Years of age, with a clean record. If interested in working, or for more information, please e-mail Frank at mbpoapresident@optonline.net or call 631-399-6111 .

Save the Date for AARP Long Island’s Racial and Ethnic Disparities Forum on September 6th

Please join AARP Long Island in an important forum about the significant racial and ethnic disparities that currently exist among New York’s 50+ multicultural communities. The event will take place on Thursday, September 6th, from 8 to 11 am, at the Hofstra University Club.

You can RSVP for this event here or call 1-877-926-8300.

Car Free Day Long Island is Friday, September 21st

Beat the Rush Hour!

Join us for the 6th Annual Car Free Day Long Island and leave your car home or drive it less on Friday, September 21, 2018.

Join in this worldwide movement to celebrate sustainable transportation on Car Free Day.  In 2017, 6,808 Long Islanders pledged to be car free or car-lite, resulting in the avoidance of 134,000 miles of driving and 67 tons of CO2 emissions!

To participate in this event, all you have to do is pledge to be car free or car-light on September 21, 2018 by filling out the pledge form on www.CarFreeDayLI.com.  Those who take the pledge will automatically be entered for a chance to win great prizes.

You can download a free online tool kit here.

Suffolk County Purchasing Office Posts New Procurement Opportunity

The Suffolk County Purchasing Division, on behalf of the Department of Economic Development and Planning, is Seeking Contractor Services to Provide a Public Private Partnership (P3) Viability Analysis Based on a Specific Case Study.

To obtain a copy of the document, please log on to the Suffolk County website here and select from the Menu Bar Offerings/Search.  Locate Document #18026 and click View Detail.

You must be registered to search for offerings on the County’s website.  Instructions on how to register are located at the above link to view the County’s website.

Water Infrastructure Improvement Act and Intermunicipal Water Infrastructure Grants Program

Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that $275 million in grant funding is available to municipalities with infrastructure projects that protect or improve water quality and/or public health. This funding, available through the the Intermunicipal Water Infrastructure Grants Program, is part of the Governor’s $2.5 billion Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2017. Grant applications and additional information are available on the Environmental Facilities Corporation website.

Applications are due on Friday, September 7, 2018 at 5 p.m.

NYS DEC Environmental Restoration Grants Now Available

These grants reimburse municipalities and community-based organizations for design and construction costs associated with the cleanup and remediation of designated brownfield sites. Sites must be identified by the New York State Environmental Restoration Program and have a DECissued Record of Decision (ROD) for the site.

Eligibility: Applicants must be a municipality or municipality acting in partnership with a community-based organization involved in cleaning and rebuilding a designated brownfield site.  
Funding: $10 million. 
Deadline: September 7, 2018. 
Contact: ERP Program Manager  – Phone: 518-402-9764; Email: derweb@dec.ny.gov;  Website: grantsgateway.ny.gov/ IntelliGrants_NYSGG/module/nysgg/ goportal.aspx?NavItem1=3

Study Finds Over Half of Drivers Don’t Scan for People When Turning Right

A new study from the University of Toronto’s School of Engineering recently used eye-tracking equipment to track drivers’ visual scanning habits in an urban environment.  The scans found several points, including:

  • Eleven of the 19 drivers failed to gaze at an area of importance, where cyclists or pedestrians would be located, before turning.
  • All attentional failures were related to not making frequent over-the-shoulder checks for cyclists.
  • There were more failures turning into Major Street, due to parked vehicles blocking drivers’ views of the bike lane.
  • Attentional failures were more likely for those who drove more frequently in downtown Toronto.
  • It appeared that drivers less familiar with an area were more cautious when turning.

The study concluded that the design of the infrastructure was to blame, drawing driver’s eyes away from areas where pedestrians and cyclists would normally be.  Inconsistency in how streets are mapped out as well as roads designed for higher speeds than what is posted also share part of the blame.

You can read more about the study as well as efforts to create more walkable-friendly infrastructure here.

Smart Talk

Editor:
Eric Alexander, Director

Contributors:
Christopher Kyle, Communications Director; Tawaun Weber, Assistant 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.

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.
Email: info@visionlongisland.org

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