Smart Talk August 24th – 30th, 2019

Check out this week’s Smart Talk where we tour the Cedar Creek Wastewater Infrastructure facility, look at the squeeze local businesses are feeling from the natural gas moratorium, and more…

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August 24th – 30th, 2019


Southern Land Company

Southern Land Company was founded in 1986 on the belief that real estate could, and should, be beautiful. To this day, founder Tim Downey cultivates an understanding that each building is more than the sum of its parts – rather, every project is an opportunity to create remarkable communities that boost aesthetics, livability and well-being.

Southern Land Company began by building individual homes. Over three decades, the company has grown, applying the same careful home-building approach to apartments and entire communities. Their flagship community is Westhaven, a 1,500-acre neighborhood near Franklin, Tennessee, which will be complete in 2027. Each one of Southern Land Company’s 22 projects across the country has provided a valuable learning experience and they are always looking for new ways to create delight in buildings and homes.

“Suffolk County’s roads are not safe for our residents. Whether they drive, walk, ride a bicycle or take transit, our roads need to be made safer for all users.  Red light cameras are a tool that can be used to improve safety, but should be part of a broader safety program.” – Elissa Kyle, Vision Long Island Placemaking Director

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Vision and Community Partners Tour Cedar Creek Wastewater Infrastructure Facility

Vision Board, staff, and community partners were out today for a tour of the Cedar Creek Wastewater Infrastructure facility, operated and managed by Suez.

Since 2015 Suez took over operation and maintenance of Bay Park, Cedar Creek and Glen Cove wastewater treatment plants for the County serving 1.2 million people with 3,000 miles of sewers and 58 pump stations.

The Cedar Creek plant itself processes 72 million gallons per day serving 600,000 people.

Some of the improvements in recent years included:

-Removal of particulates to improve water quality and expanding what they try to remove.
-Monitoring and reducing odors
-Recycling water preserves 300 million gallons and saved $10 million.
-Decreasing sewer backups from 240-62.
-Fewer noise complaints, improved safety.
-Most importantly a decline in nitrogen pollution.

Thankfully the past two administrations have prioritized investment in these facilities and grants from the Federal and State level along with assistance from the County came through. There was a time 10-12 years ago where there was little to no activity in improving all of these facilities. Those days are well behind us.

Thanks to the Suez team including Alan Wieland and Lauren Sternberg for putting together an informative session!

A special thanks to all who joined the tour including:

NYS Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages, Assemblyman Mike Lipetri, Nassau Legislator Debbie Mule, Shelley Brazley from Office of Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby, Magda Campbell from Office of Senator Gillibrand, Frank Camarano from the Nassau Council of Chambers and East Meadow Chamber, Lionel Chitty Hicksville Chamber, Mariano Ugalde, Uniondale Chamber, Angel Cepeda, LI Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Karen Montalbano, Baldwin Civic Association, Linda Henninger, Kings Park Civic Association David Stonehill, civic leader, Merrick and Trudy Fitzimmons Co-chair, Vision Long Island.

Stay tuned for future site visits through Vision and the LI Main Street Alliance.

Mineola Files Lawsuit against 3M, DuPont over Contaminated Drinking Water

The Village of Mineola has joined two other local municipalities by suing DuPont and 3M over their roles in the contamination of local drinking water.

Wells in Mineola have been found to be contaminated with perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctane sulfonate, or PFOA and PFOS, which Village officials say are due to products produced by the companies.  Carle Place and Port Washington have made similar claims as they filed suits as well.  The lawsuit names 3M subsidiary Dyneon and DuPont spinoff Chemours as defendants as well.

The chemicals in question were commonly found all the way through 2015 in a number of household products produced by the defendants.  Those products included carpets, clothing, furniture fabrics, and paper packaging for food and cookware.  A 2016 study by the EPA would later report a link between exposure to those chemicals and high cholesterol, increased liver enzymes, decreased vaccination response, thyroid disorders, pregnancy induced hypertension, preeclampsia, as well as kidney or testicular cancer.

Village officials are alleging that the companies involved have known about these side effects for decades, since at least the 1960’s, and did nothing.   They are also claiming that the companies knew that this would lead to groundwater contamination and made no steps to mitigate or prevent the issue.

The suit is asking for the companies to be responsible for an undetermined amount of money that would go towards infrastructure upgrades necessary to remove the chemicals from local water.

You can read more at Newsday.

Port Jefferson Apartments move forward with Tax Breaks

The Brookhaven IDA has approved a number of tax breaks for The Brockport, a new mixed-use apartment building proposed in Port Jefferson.

The Brockport will receive an economic package that includes a 10-year PILOT for the 16.5$ million project.  It will be built on the current site of Cappy’s Carpets, with construction expected to begin this fall.  The plan calls for a three-story structure with 44 one-bedroom units and 2 two-bedroom units.  The project is being planned by the Gitto Group, which also owns The Hills and Barnum House in Port Jefferson, both of which are past recipients of Smart Growth Awards.

The taxes on the property currently stand around #35,000.  The new PILOT program will create an escalating scale that begins at $99,183 the first year and then escalates to $213,360 in the final one.  The retail portion of the building is not part of the IDA program and will be assessed separately.

Concerns have been raised over the construction of the project as it sits in close proximity to Port Jefferson High School.  Questions were also raised on whether this project would add to the local student population, but with only 2 2-bedrooms concerns weren’t too high for that aspect.  Other complexes already built have much higher 2-bedroom totals.

The Gitto Group estimates that apartments will be in the neighborhood of $2,650 for one bedrooms and $3,800 for two bedrooms.  The building itself will be 65,000 square feet with approximately 2,700 square feet dedicated to retail.

You can read more at TBR News Media.

Downtowns Begin to feel Economic Impact of Natural Gas Moratorium

As the natural gas moratorium imposed after the rejection of the NESE pipeline enters its third month, the economic impact to downtowns, small businesses, affordable housing, mixed use, schools, hospitals, office/industrial space and other forms of development have gone mostly unreported.

Over 2800 applications for redevelopment are now blocked, with that number climbing each day.  While National Grid has committed to transitioning energy sources off fossil fuels and towards renewables as part of the NYS goals and plan to address climate change, they cannot do so in a timeframe that would allow applications to be approved. The LI Main Street Alliance and local business owners have also called for an end to the moratorium in order to help grow the local economy.

The natural gas pipeline fight has really begun to hurt a wide variety of local businesses.  Some of the buildings being stopped include those being built green, new diverse restaurants in neighborhoods that need investment to provide jobs for folks, and even affordable housing projects that give opportunities for residents to stay in our region. This has cause alternative energy sources to be pressed into service, including diesel fuel generators, oil heat, propane gas, (which all produce further greenhouse gasses) or electric heat and stoves (which comes at greater cost to business owners and residents).

This conflict has led some to believe that none of this has been thought through, which stands in contrast to the common thought that local communities are not creatively planning the issues that are truly local like land use. What has happened here is that there has been no creative planning on a regional level for reliable, affordable, clean energy.

If local communities had the opportunities to plan these energy systems, you can guarantee that residents and businesses would not be hurt like this. When it is left to bigger, more distant regional bureaucracies and interests there is no sense of urgency to sort these matters out.

Vision has supported the NESE pipeline (and hopefully the last pipeline) as a transition to greener energy and a carbon free future following the goals NYS outlined in their climate change legislation.  What happens if the pipeline is not approved is anybody’s guess, but more stories of businesses suffering are bound to appear.

Like most public issues these days that are driven by the extremes, the positions from groups on the polarizing sides of this debate are what got us here.  It will take radically different skillsets to get us out.

You can read more on this important issue at Crain’s New York here, and Long Island Business News here.

Red-Light Camera Extension Advances in Suffolk County

Vision was at the Public Safety Committee of the Suffolk County Legislature on Thursday for the discussion over the extension of the Red Light Camera program in the County.

Vision testified in support of modifications to the program to locate cameras based on safety and to use revenues generated from the program towards the redesign and reconstruction of intersections to improve their safety and toward educational programs to improve safety.

“Suffolk County’s roads are not safe for our residents,” said Vision’s Placemaking Director Elissa Kyle.  “Whether they drive, walk, ride a bicycle or take transit, our roads need to be made safer for all users.  Red light cameras are a tool that can be used to improve safety, but should be part of a broader safety program.”

Data presented showed that the number of tickets being issued has declined over the years with most recipients of tickets not being repeat offenders.  Crashes at intersections did increase last year after several years of decline, but that increase was seen throughout the County and State, not just at intersections with cameras.

Concerns about the higher number of cameras in disadvantaged communities relative to the number in wealthier communities was also raised, as well as differences of the distance a crash is from an intersection to be counted in the study.  Legislators Spencer and Cilmi expressed support for redesigning intersections to improve their safety and others supported other improvements to the program if it is extended.

The committee voted to discharge the bill to the full Legislature in order for more information to be collected before a final vote.

You can see more at News 12.

Ride Sharing Services Causing Traffic Issues at Airports

In what is becoming an unsurprising trend, Uber and Lyft ridesharing have created major traffic congestion not just in Manhattan (which helped lead us to congestion pricing) and our local train stations, but now at our local airports as well.

A lot of the issues originated due to a lack of common sense regulations for ride-sharing.  When the services really began to take off in our region, officials allowed the chance to keep these issues in check, but instead let the opportunity pass by. Most local politicians left them unregulated, as they either were afraid to treat them like the taxi industry or didn’t think there would be much of a problem.

Now both the airport industry and local municipalities are scrambling to deal with the glut of traffic in the area.  Some have created express lanes and designated areas for ride-sharing users, while Uber and Lyft are working to update and streamline their services to match.  But the biggest issue is that this is all coming on the fly when regulations that were previously called for could have already been in place.

Studies have been done to try and figure out what can be done to reduce traffic at airports that license ride-sharing services.  Those studies show that a 45% reduction of ride-sharing vehicles would be necessary to yield the desired result. 

One solution that would make sense locally is the proposed Air Train to LaGuardia. Vision has joined the LaGuardia Air Train Coalition along with the Queens Chamber of Commerce and many others to call for this important new rail line.

Stay tuned for more information on this proposal and how it can help improve the situation at our local airports. In the meantime check out this New York Times article outlining the problem nationally.

One of Nation’s first “Missing Middle” Complexes Opens in Omaha

One of America’s first-ever “Missing Middle” apartment complexes has opened in Papillion, Nebraska, and is a re-imagining of a suburban apartment complex in the form of a walkable neighborhood.

Missing Middle housing is a name for housing units such as duplexes and small, walkable apartments that provide an alternative to detached single-family homes or high-rise style apartment complexes.  They create more of a feel for neighborhood and strive to combine the best aspects of home ownership with a more affordable style of homes.

The concept was designed by Opticos Design of Berkeley, California, and combines the efficiency of garden apartments with the flexibility of missing middle housing.  Cofounders Jeremy Reimer and partner Scott Semrad have worked to fix up historic multifamily buildings in Omaha for over a decade, and have now turned their attention to new middle housing innovations.

The new complex strives to provide a sense of neighborhood with the garden apartments.  There is also a greater number of windows than usual and the developers made sure not to stack master bedrooms on top of each other.  The goal was to create a more private experience even though you are surrounded by neighbors.  The streets have also been designed with traffic-calming in mind to create a safer neighborhood feel for residents.  Mixed-use will eventually be a part of the plan.

“I’m trying to build a new apartment complex doesn’t look like apartment complex,” said Mr. Reimer. “People come in and ask, ‘Where’s your parking lot?’ The streets are our parking lots. Delivery truck drivers say, ‘We can’t find the apartments.’ They think these are single-family houses.”

The developers are also building a variety of apartments that range from a duplex to a four-plex with a thought to test the market and eventually adjust accordingly.  Building some of the smaller buildings also gives them a chance to keep costs low while still testing out this newer design. 

You can read more here.

LINAP Unites to Improve Water Quality

The following op-ed originally appeared in Innovate Long Island here and was written by John Cameron Jr. of Cameron Engineering.

Each summer, annual reminders of our region’s water-quality crisis – including fish kills, toxic algal blooms and others – reappear. While there are a number of causes for the poor quality of many of our coastal and inland waterways, “nitrogen loading” has been a main culprit.

Nitrogen from fertilizer and human waste enters our waterways and causes the excessive growth of algae. which uses up dissolved oxygen and blocks sunlight. These are essential to maintaining the health of cherished water bodies such as the Long Island Sound, the Great South Bay, the Peconic Estuary and other local embayments.

While nitrogen pollution can significantly impact our quality of life, the good news is that the Long Island Nitrogen Action Plan is fighting back with a range of management, technical, regulatory and policy actions. Numerous multi-year initiatives are currently underway, some starting this summer, to decrease the amount of nitrogen entering our surface and groundwaters.

This LINAP partnership, headed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Long Island Regional Planning Council, also includes Suffolk and Nassau counties, local governments, area scientists, engineers, environmentalists and non-governmental organizations, and a cadre of supporting professionals.

A few examples include expanded water-quality monitoring in Nassau’s western bays, new recommendations on proper fertilizer use, a wastewater re-use initiative, expansion of Suffolk’s sewer infrastructure and relocation of sewer plant outflows to limit treated effluent from entering inland waterways.

Others include a nutrient bio-extraction program to identify ways to remove nitrogen through the cultivation and harvesting of seaweed and shellfish, action plans to limit algal blooms, initiatives to study and manage sub-watersheds, “roadmaps” to help guide nitrogen-mitigation projects through the application process, and biological nutrient removal during wastewater treatment.

Another vitally important goal of LINAP is protecting and restoring coastal wetlands, a critical line of defense against potential storms and natural disasters such as Superstorm Sandy, which in a degraded condition leave coastal communities more vulnerable to wave action and storm surge. Wetlands are also essential components of our marine habitat that help to reduce the amount of our environment’s nitrogen and carbon contaminants.

LINAP has been described as one of the most significant environmental initiatives in this region since the preservation of the Long Island Pine Barrens. Like that successful initiative, LINAP has also become an important model of how a complex issue of regional importance can be addressed through a comprehensive collaboration of the municipal and private sectors, working together to improve the Island’s water quality for the benefit of generations to come.

John Cameron Jr., PE, is chairman of the Long Island Regional Planning Council and founder/Managing Partner of Woodbury-based Cameron Engineering & Associates.

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 if you’re interested in joining.

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 or 646-230-0489 for more information.

Rockville Centre to Host Inaugural Playing on the Porch event on September 7th

This September 7th, the Rockville Centre Chamber of Commerce will be working with locals to host the first Playing on the Porch event in local neighborhoods.

Around 15 local residents have offered up their front porches as impromptu concert sites for local musicians.  The outdoor performances will take place across the village and give residents a place to enjoy some family-friendly festivities with their neighbors.  This will be the first event of its kind on Long Island.

The concerts will take place from 3 to 6 pm and will be followed up by an open-mic night at Kasey’s Kitchen and Cocktails’ rooftop from 6 to 9.  Maps will be available at the Chamber of Commerce for residents to follow to the events taking place across the Village.

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 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.

Huntington Awareness Day set for September 14th

The Huntington Township Awareness Day is set for Sept. 14, with the Unity in the Community parade that will march from Huntington High School to Stimson Middle School.

Stimson will host a fair from 10am – 3pm, which will include games, food, fun and attractions.

The event is chaired by Dee Thompson and South Huntington school superintendent Dr. David Bennardo.

Farmingdale Cultural Arts Day to take Place on September 15th

The fourth annual “Cultural Arts Day” will take place on Sunday, September 15th, and feature Music and Dance performances by local entertainers, in conjunction with the ninth “Art In The Park”!

In addition to music and dance performances at the Gazebo, the Village Green will be filled with about 30 magnificent artists exhibiting and selling their artwork. So many very special, talented artists are set to exhibit, show and sell their original artwork at the event, including the Legendary Long Island artist – Elaine Faith Thompson, Emma’s Journey and more!

Farmingdale student, Emma Brussell of Emma’s Journey, will exhibit and sell her artwork, alongside Rufus, her diabetic alert dog. Emma is dedicated to helping type 1 diabetics purchase diabetic alert dogs. Many artists will be exhibiting, including Live Art with The Tiny Artist Studio, Farmingdale schools, Hardscrabble Seniors, Clothesline Art…

Come meet these special Long Island artists and enjoy their magnificent artwork displayed On the Village Green and support Emma’s Journey on September 15th, rain date September 22nd.  Art in the Park is a juried art show, featuring a wonderful array of original artwork on display – and ribbons and prizes will be awarded. 

You can view the website for updates here, or contact the group at 516-249-0093 or

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.


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 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.

Happy Labor Day

Vision Long Island is wishing you a safe and happy Labor Day this weekend!  Please enjoy your three-day weekend and maybe take some time to visit our local downtowns to take advantage of the amenities in your own backyard!

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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