Smart Talk August 3rd – 9th, 2019

Check out this week’s Smart Talk where we join Long Island downtowns in search of relief from the natural gas moratorium, review the community’s reaction to the recently approved Belmont Arena project, and more…

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August 3rd – 9th, 2019


COMMUNITY UPDATES

Certilman, Balin, Adler & Hyman

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“We are here today because of an alarming development that threatens to derail our local economy and reverse the great strides we have made to revitalize our downtown. Recently we were made aware that the gas company will no longer be providing new hookups or additional capacity for existing hookups of natural gas customers.  While existing customers are unaffected, this threatens the growth and development of our village by halting new businesses needing natural gas to power their stores and preventing residential -customers from converting their homes to gas, potentially impacting the value of their property.” – Lynbrook Mayor Alan Beach speaking on the natural gas moratorium

“This issue is much larger than Lynbrook. The freeze on gas service affects Nassau and Suffolk counties, the boroughs of New York City and lower Westchester. It is easy to see how this freeze will stifle the entire downstate economy. The business community has not turned a blind eye to the need for sustainable energy. In fact, we are in favor of it. These environmentally friendly fuels are also more cost-effective than traditional fuels, which makes it a smart choice for business. Until these methods are a viable, workable alternative, there must be a transition plan in place” – Steve Wangel, Lynbrook Chamber of Commerce

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Former Nassau County Executive Tom Gulotta Passes at 75

Former Nassau County Executive Tom Gulotta, who served from 1987 through 2001, has passed away at the age of 75.

Born in Oceanside in 1944, Mr. Gulotta was a lifelong Nassau County resident who served as both a State Assemblyman and Hempstead Town Supervisor before becoming Nassau County Executive.  He was also part of the initial steps of “Operation Downtown” in Bellmore, which would eventually go countywide as multiple downtowns looked for revitalization.  Vision had many dialogues with the County Executive on downtown redevelopment opportunities and affordable housing options.   He always listened and was very thoughtful about guiding us to work with the public as much as possible in our early years. 

Mr. Gulotta is survived by his wife, Betsy; a son, Christopher; a daughter, Elizabeth Amendolare; his grandchildren, Mia, Jayden and Aviana Amendolare; his siblings, former Nassau County Supreme Court Justice Frank A. Gulotta and Franca Rizzo, and nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his son, Thomas “T.J.” Gulotta Jr.

Lynbrook, Farmingdale, and other Downtowns Call for End to Natural Gas Moratorium

Vision was out today with our community partners in the Village of Lynbrook calling for solutions to end the moratorium on natural gas.

This moratorium has impacted local small businesses, downtown mixed use, transit oriented developments, affordable housing, and office development. Over 2,400 applications have been caught in the moratorium from mid-May to mid-July.

Lynbrook Mayor Alan Beach and Lynbrook Chamber of Commerce President Steve Wangel led the rally along with local business owner Jeff Greenfield, Nassau Legislator William Gaylor, Town of Hempstead Councilman Anthony D’Esposito, Vision LI Director Eric Alexander, and Nassau Chamber Board member and Uniondale Chambers of Commerce President Mariano Ugalde.  Local business owners caught up in the moratorium also spoke.

All called on NYS to support the NESE pipeline in order to end the moratorium that is crippling local business.  Vision spoke to the importance of natural gas as a bridge to the 2050 energy goals outlined in varying state plans including the recently passed Climate Change legislation.  The fear also is that this moratorium is already sending customers back to oil heat and propane as alternatives, which has become an unintended consequence.

Vision also spoke on the coming demand of downtown projects in 40 communities across LI that are caught in the moratorium, and urged local decision makers to work together collaboratively on solutions.

“We are here today because of an alarming development that threatens to derail our local economy and reverse the great strides we have made to revitalize our downtown,” said Lynbrook Village Mayor Alan Beach.  “Recently we were made aware that the gas company will no longer be providing new hookups or additional capacity for existing hookups of natural gas customers.  While existing customers are unaffected, this threatens the growth and development of our village by halting new businesses needing natural gas to power their stores and preventing residential -customers from converting their homes to gas, potentially impacting the value of their property.”

Steve Wangel Lynbrook Chamber of Commerce said:  “This issue is much larger than Lynbrook. The freeze on gas service affects Nassau and Suffolk counties, the boroughs of New York City and lower Westchester. It is easy to see how this freeze will stifle the entire downstate economy. The business community has not turned a blind eye to the need for sustainable energy. In fact, we are in favor of it. These environmentally friendly fuels are also more cost-effective than traditional fuels, which makes it a smart choice for business. Until these methods are a viable, workable alternative, there must be a transition plan in place”

The Vision Long Island Board and community partners including local civic organizations, chambers of commerce and municipal officials have written letters and provided testimony in support of this project.  A moratorium on natural gas service is in place and of chief concern are the impacts on new downtown small businesses, transit oriented development housing on Main Streets and affordable housing development.  

Many of these projects are years in the planning stage and additional delays hurt the small business community and the economics of local communities that were anticipating needed revitalization.

Vision was also in downtown Farmingdale this week with Mayor Ralph Ekstrand delivering a similar message. We are also a part of the newly formed Main Street Alliance, which has representatives from different downtowns across Long Island, all of which are seeking relief from this moratorium.

You can read more about Lynbrook’s press conference at LI Business News here and the Herald here, as well as Farmingdale’s press conference here.

Southold Planning Board Reveals Final Draft of Comprehensive Plan

The Southold Planning Board recently presented and listened to feedback on the final draft of its 13-chapted draft comprehensive plan.

The Board presented the plan to around 100 people and announced that this would be the first of several informational sessions on the plan.  Around a third of residents present commented on the plan or asked questions concerning its execution.  Planning Board vice-chairman James Rich III declared the meeting a productive discourse on a document more than 10 years in the making.

The Town Board originally tasked the Planning Board with drafting a plan back in 2009 in order to clarify zoning, regulations, and policy.  The Planning Board would hold 64 meetings to gather input, research current and previous plans and studies, and draw on the expertise of in-house staff, committees, and boards as well as outside consulting where needed.  This was all put into the 308-page domcument presented to public.

The Planning Board made sure to stress that the plan will be a living document affected by how local people felt about the direction of their town.  The “goal-oriented” plan has several components built in to make it flexible and reactive to the needs of the local community.

Comments from residents included questions on zoning and if the new plan will be able to expedite a backlog of variance requests for the Town.  Water Quality was also discussed as a possible part of the plan.  Local residents also noted that development is slowly creeping eastward and it would be better to have a plan in place to deal with it before it irrevocably changed the fabric of Southold.

You can read more here and a list of future informational meeting dates for the draft plan here.

Belmont Arena Project Approved by New York State while Local Communities call for Further Review

The Empire State Development board has voted to approve the controversial Belmont Arena project, which will seek to build an arena to house the New York Islanders and a new LIRR station in Elmont.

New York Arena partners, which is a group formed by the owners of the Islanders, New York Mets, and arena developers Oak View Group.  The development will consist of a new 19,000-seat arena, 350,000 square feet of shops and restaurants, a new hotel, and parking.  It will be built on 43 acres of state-owned property at Belmont Park.

The approval comes at the end of a 2-year process that started in July of 2017 when the ESD released a request for proposals for the redevelopment of Belmont Park.  A few months later the Islanders group, which had been seeking a brand new dedicated arena for years that that point, was awarded development rights.  
The state would then conduct an environmental review that showed traffic issues could potentially impact local neighborhoods.  To help mitigate these potential issues, Governor Cuomo announced that a brand new LIRR station would be built on the north side of the project.  That led to finale approval by the ESD board at this week’s meeting.

Just before the vote for final approval took place, both officials and residents gathered in the village to call for more time to review the Environmental Impact Study that had been released.  Locals pointed to the addition of a new LIRR station, a traffic mitigation study, and the addition of large-scale propane tanks below ground as new details that have changed how the project will affect the neighborhood.  In light of this, the Village believes that it should be allowed extra time to review the changes.

“We do not want to go forward with this project as is because there is no way, in any shape or form, that it won’t hurt us,” said Floral Park Mayor Dominick Longobardi.

The official deadline for public comments on the project was August 1st, but locals have argued that that was not enough time to properly absorb and respond to the large Final Environmental Impact Study.  The Mayor has called for a supplemental environmental impact statement in order to allow residents a chance to offer further public comment on the new project elements.

 NYS countered that the state has already completed the review process and incorporated numerous local comments on the project.  The state has indicated that it will not issue a supplemental EIS without changes that would result in “significant adverse impacts.”  The ESD also pointed out that it has responded to thousands of comments and altered plans in response to the community’s needs.

Floral Park has stated that it will look for options to halt progress until it is satisfied that their concerns are addressed.  Legal action has not been ruled out.

During the three days of public hearings on Long Island for the project 9 spoke in favor and 188 against and there were 30 letters in favor and 5,000 letters and postcards against.  It is fair to say the community is largely opposed to the project in its current form.  

You can read more on approval of the project here and Floral Park’s response to the EIS here.

Suffolk County Residents and Fair Housing Groups Sue Property Corp

Local residents have teamed up with the Long Island Housing Services and the Suffolk Independent Living Organization to bring a lawsuit against local property owners NPS Property Corporation.

The suit alleges that NPS has been working for years to discriminate against prospective renters with disabilities, public sources of income, or African American.  The complaint also alleges that the discriminatory practices targeting renters with disabilities and public income were much more widespread than initially realized.  Policies have been in place within the company that were designed specifically to discourage disabled individuals and those with public vouchers from applying.

According to the complaint, Suffolk resident and named plaintiff Doreen Kernozek inquired in November 2016 about an apartment at the NPS-owned Holiday Square complex.  Kernozek has a number of debilitating health issues and participates in a Medicaid housing subsidy program.   The lawsuit alleges that while initially receptive to Kernozek’s application, things later changed when the staff learned of her situation, asserting she could not be approved for the apartment. According to the suit, NPS stated that Kernozek would not meet the unit’s income threshold despite the fact that Kernozek’s income, derived from Social Security, far exceeded the amount required under the NHTD subsidy.

The amended complaint similarly outlines the experiences of Lori Gerardi, another named plaintiff who attempted to apply for an apartment at the NPS-owned South Shore Gardens complex. According to the lawsuit, Gerardi, who has been approved for a Mainstream Program housing subsidy in light of her medical conditions, submitted an application noting her participation in the subsidy program. Despite earning an income that was over three times the portion of the rent that the subsidy required her to pay, the complaint alleges NPS staff told Gerardi that the complex “had reached its quota” for individuals using such subsidies.

In both the cases of Ms. Gerardi and Ms. Kernozek, the suit alleges the company’s application stated it could reject any candidate whose weekly income did not equal the monthly rent for an apartment, effectively discouraging anyone using a housing subsidy from applying for an NPS apartment.

“Sad to see this still happening,” said Vision Long Island Director Eric Alexander.  “Kudos to LI Housing Services for putting a spotlight on housing discrimination for decades now. We hope to see full compliance with the numerous Fair Housing laws on the books.”

According to the complaint, LIHS’s investigation into NPS’s rental policies found that White applicants at the company’s Northwood Village complex were told about upcoming availabilities and given contact information for the property manager, while Black applicants were routinely informed that no units were available and were directed to a disconnected phone number for further inquiries.

The lawsuit alleges that NPS’s actions constitute violations of the federal Fair Housing Act and the New York State Human Rights Law. Furthermore, the suit accuses NPS of violating the Suffolk County Human Rights Law, which forbids discriminatory housing practices on the basis of race, disability or lawful source of income, including income through Social Security and the use of housing subsidy programs.

The suit urges the Court to prohibit NPS from continuing to engage in these discriminatory practices, as well as mandate that NPS make all necessary changes to its policies to conform with federal, state and local housing laws. It also seeks punitive damages and compensatory relief for plaintiffs harmed by NPS’s actions, as well as other relief as deemed proper by the Court.

You can read more here, including News 12’s coverage.

Annual Riverhead Boat Race to be held on August 10th

The Riverhead Cardboard Boat Race is returning for its 11th year, set to take place along the Peconic Riverfront on Saturday, Aug. 10.

Hundreds gathered in downtown Riverhead last year to watch paddlers compete against each other in the free event hosted by the Riverhead Business Improvement District.  Registration and inspection begin at 9 a.m., and boats will be off to the races by 11 a.m.

Divisions for the competition include youth, single riders, group and outlaw races.  The only materials permitted are cardboard, duct tape, water-based glue and latex paint, but that hasn’t hindered creativity of contestants in years past.

This year, attendees can witness the Battle of the Town Supervisors — a showdown between Riverhead supervisor Laura Jens-Smith and Southampton supervisor Jay Schneiderman as they race against each other in duct-taped vessels on the Peconic River.  Along with rooting on the sidelines for their favorite boat, attendees can expect a kids zone with rock wall, inflatables, games and Hula Hoop contest taking place at 10:30 a.m. Prizes will be given out for best spirit, Titanic sinking, best constructed and most creative.

For rules, registration and other details, visit riverheadchamber.com. Call the Riverhead Chamber of Commerce for more info at 631-727-7600 or email at info@riverheadchamber.com.

Alive on 25 in Riverhead to take place on August 15th

Alive on 25 returned this summer to Riverhead in order to help create a fun, block-party atmosphere on Main Street in the downtown.  The final event of the summer will be taking place on August 15th and is free for all to attend.

The event will feature plenty to eat, drink and experience on Main Street. There are more than 12 food trucks lined up, serving everything from seafood to gyros to gourmet burgers. There will also be a classic car show on the waterfront, eight stages with live music and free kids activities like rock wall climbing.

Alive on 25, which has drawn thousands each year since it was launched in 2016, was modeled after Patchogue’s Alive after Five series. Riverhead’s events take place on opposite Thursdays, with the 15th closing out this summer’s events.

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.

Bayville’s Newest Storefront is a Brewery with Local History

For Old Tappan Brewing Company co-owners Matthew Cryan, 47, of Bayville, and Brent Kunkle, 37, of Sea Cliff, the debut of their new storefront in Bayville is the culmination of years of hard work and dedication.

Once the site of a dance studio, the small-batch brewery, at 37 Ludlam Ave., pays homage to Cryan and Kunkle’s past in more ways than one. From the wooden dance floor that the pair converted into their bar space to the movie posters that adorn the walls — a tribute to the projects the two worked on together while in the film industry — the first-time business owners said they could not be prouder of the space they’ve created to serve their craft brews.

“We just want to be a part of the community and have a community business,” Kunkle said, “and to be able to share something with the people in Bayville and Locust Valley and the surrounding areas that they can enjoy in a social environment feels so important.”

Deeply rooted in the local community, the “Old Tappan” name itself comes from the road in Glen Cove of the same name that Cryan frequented as a kid to skateboard and ride BMX bikes.  “It’s a very short, meandering road through old woods, and everything has been built up quite a bit since I was a kid, but I’ve always liked that road,” Cryan said. “I used to play in bands back in the day, and we would actually make songs about Old Tappan Road so it makes me think of home.”

You can read more 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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