Check out this week’s Smart Talk where we pay tribute to Delano Stewart, hear about the State of Hempstead Village, check out Babylon’s new Better Main Streets Committee, attend a Bus Rider’s press conference, and more…
Vision Long Island
February 19th – 25th, 2017
St. Joseph’s College
Since 1916, St. Joseph’s College has provided an affordable liberal arts education to a diverse group of students. Independent and coeducational, St. Joseph’s prepares students for lives of integrity, intellectual and spiritual values, social responsibility and service; lives that are worthy of the College’s motto, Esse non videri — “To be, not to seem.”
St. Joseph’s Long Island Campus challenges its approximately 3,300 students to develop their full potential and a joy of learning. With more than 400 faculty members, the College enjoys a student-to-faculty ratio that provides individual attention in an open, supportive atmosphere.
St. Joseph’s remains dedicated to maintaining low costs while upholding a strict standard of excellence. While retention rates at most colleges are slipping, St. Joseph’s remains above the national average. Its academic strength hasn’t gone unnoticed. The College is consistently recognized in U.S. News & World Report’s annual “America’s Best Colleges” issue.
“Hempstead is always evolving, things are always changing in our Village…a lot of young people want to live in Manhattan, but can’t afford it. Our train and buses can easily get you into Manhattan, Brooklyn…the transportation is there. So our plan is to build mixed-use housings on Main Street, consisting of apartments on top and retail on the bottom. That’s what we’re going to do here to help attract these young people and make Hempstead a destination.” – Hempstead Village Mayor Wayne J. Hall
Delano Stewart, Wyandanch Community Activist, Business Leader
This past week saw the passing of Wyandanch community leader Delano Stewart at the age of 75.
One of 7 children born in Panama to a preacher and schoolteacher, Mr. Stewart began his adult life as an artist, studying English and theater at Canal Zone College and writing three plays. He worked as a musician after immigrating to the United States and, in 1971, helped to found the Black Theater Alliance.
Mr. Stewart began his interest in community planning as early as the 1960s, when he worked at the New York City Community Development Agency. He also worked to help his brother, Waldaba Stewart, win a seat in the New York State Senate in 1968 and later became a community planner in his brother’s office.
He would later move to Wyandanch in 1974, where he became a voice for his community while working towards incorporation and self-rule for his hamlet. This was doubly important for a predominantly black community that lacked the economic development of other communities and had a faltering school system. In 1984, he would become the Long Island Coordinator for Jesse Jackson’s Democratic presidential bid, which would continue his work to empower black voters on Long Island and in the country as a whole.
Some of the highlights of his time as a community activist include convincing the State DPW to narrow a road in his community, making it safer for pedestrians and cyclists. He also advocated for his local Post Office, successfully keeping it open instead of allowing it to be moved to Dix Hills. He was also instrumental in the creation of Wyandanch Revitalization, a plan to create a pedestrian friendly transit center near the LIRR station that would feature affordable housing and a restaurant district. He would later express disappointment in the alternate Wyandanch Rising, which he felt focused too much on beautification at the expense of economic development.
Vision Long Island expresses regret at the loss of such a dynamic community leader. Our region would be a better place if more people would follow in the example of Mr. Delano Stewart.
Mr. Stewart is survived by his wife, Anne, and two daughters Anika and Dara. Funeral plans are incomplete, with Mr. Stewart’s final request to have his ashes spread on the Panama Canal.
“Long before there was Wyandanch Rising Mr. Stewart was working to lay the groundwork for a true revitalization effort for his community. He was an inspiring figure with a very diverse background in business, music, not for profits and journalism. Delano was never afraid to speak out for what was right and wrong for his community. There are few leaders with the fortitude to stand up for issues the way he did.” – Eric Alexander, Vision Long Island
“He was a driving force for the Wyandanch community — a brilliant man who knew the issues and could express them, which made him hated by the power structure. I didn’t always agree with him, but I’m sorry he is gone.” – Activist Eugene Burnett, who shared in Mr. Stewart’s community advocacy
“Delano Stewart was a true visionary and a man dedicated to lifting up the community. Along with his wife Anne, their work provided the inspiration and the foundation for the revitalization that is occurring in the hamlet of Wyandanch today.” – Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone
Village of Hempstead Mayor Hall Presents State of the Village
Hempstead Mayor Wayne Hall delivered his 12th annual “State of the Village” address for the Town of Hempstead at the Kennedy Memorial Park recreation center this past week.
In an address focused on evolution of policy and positive change for the village, Mayor Hall’s address was given to a full room. A major portion of the speech focused on the revitalization of Hempstead’s downtown and business community, which has enjoyed much focus and improvement in the recent past. He cited numerous grand openings as well as efforts to tighten licensing programs that have worked to remove establishments that were considered public nuisances. This all tied in with the announcement of a $2.5 billion downtown revitalization project that would see new mixed use buildings in the downtown.
“A lot of times, businesses don’t want to invest in a minority community, and I’ve been trying my best for the past 10 years to have re-development in our Village. Now, we have an investor that is willing to put $2.5 billion dollars into our community,” Hall said. “Hempstead is always evolving, things are always changing in our Village…a lot of young people want to live in Manhattan, but can’t afford it. Our train and buses can easily get you into Manhattan, Brooklyn…the transportation is there. So our plan is to build mixed-use housings on Main Street, consisting of apartments on top and retail on the bottom. That’s what we’re going to do here to help attract these young people and make Hempstead a destination.”
As part of the efforts of revitalization, Mayor Hall also talked about a plan to build on under-utilized parking lots with resulting revenue estimated to be around $70 million in the first ten years. This money will be used to improve the school district. Mayor Hall also spoke on a $1.5 million grant from New York State that will be used to fight poverty within the village. A task force will be created to decide on how best to utilize this money.
“In Hempstead, only 52 percent of students graduate from high school…if you don’t have a high school diploma, your potential earnings are about $21,000 a year.” he said. “We’re going to use this grant money for job training to ensure that when our students get out of high school, they’re going to be job-ready. We’re going to make sure that our kids are ready, that people who have been incarcerated and have no hope are ready to earn a living and become productive members of society.”
A final point of pride for the Mayor was the Village’s Parks and Recreations Department, which has seen recent developments. Parks are being upgraded in the village with artificial turf fields, a new skateboard park is in the works, a summertime Music Academy is coming, and a possible supplementary Recreation Center is being discussed. This is in conjunction with a beautification project that includes student volunteers from Adelphi University as well as new efforts to rid the area of “zombie homes.”
You can read more on the State of the Village address here.
Better Main Streets Committee Aims to Improve Babylon Communities
The Town of Babylon has voted to approve a committee that will work to fight blight and improve business in local districts across the Township.
The Better Main Streets Committee will form in the future with the task of improving micro-neighborhoods through beautification in a bid to improve property value and development. The committee will include 10 officials from various departments and will enforce code violations, try to fill vacancies, and work on other problems facing these designated areas. This has met with a hopeful but reserved tone from chambers of commerce across the Town.
“If the Town of Babylon wants to work with us on the concerns that we have in the community and improve economic conditions, that’s a positive,” said Jason Koch D’Ambrosio, a Deer Park Chamber of Commerce board member. “What I want to see is action. It’s one thing to talk about it, but putting things into action is another thing. And that’s what I hope they’ll do.”
The committee itself will include the Planning Department Commissioner, the Downtown Revitalization Director, the Chief Building Inspector, the Code Enforcement Deputy Director, an assessor, the Public Safety Deputy Commissioner, the Fire Marshal, the Public Works Department Commissioner, the Supervisor’s Chief of Staff, and an attorney.
The committee will seek input from local chambers of commerce and civic associations on potential sites for improvement. Once these are incorporated with some pre-determined sites, the committee will meet with local business and property owners to compile a list of grievances to bring before the town for resolution.
The Town currently has no plan in place to provide funding to the committee but will try to provide other procedural assistance such as fast-tracking permits and resolving code violations. The committee will also work to find grant funding for specific projects.
You can read more on this story here.
Gallery Space, Artist Loft Proposed for Downtown Riverhead
In a move 15 years in the making, downtown Riverhead has taken a step closer to approval on a combined gallery space and artist loft building.
The proposed Viva L’Arte Center calls for a two-story, 4,440-square-foot building on an empty lot in between Barth’s Drug Store and Haiku, two downtown establishments. The plan was proposed by sculptor Giancarlo Biagi and his business partner Jill Burkee. This is the second go-around for the project, which faced a lack of funding in 2005 in spite of approval.
The space will include a gallery for art display, an office, and “transient residence,” where artists displaying their work can find temporary housing. The space will also be the home of a new publication aimed at reporting on international sculpting news. Mr. Biagi has noted at past Town Board meetings that he believes this project can do much to turn Riverhead into a prominent artist community.
“Most important is that we find the collaboration among all these art endeavors will help this community grow economically,” said Mr. Biagi. “We always see it. I saw SoHo going wherever it was and then Chelsea, and now Lower East Side where I reside.”
The application is waiting on a hearing date for review of the final site plan sometime in the next month, and is currently pending a SEQRA review. Mr. Biagi and Ms. Burkee are hoping to introduce themselves to the local community during the upcoming East End Arts festival and hope to break ground by 2018.
You can read more on this project here.
Nassau & Suffolk Bus Riders Rally for State Funds for Buses
Vision Board and staff stood alongside the Long Island Bus Riders’ Union, SILO, AHRC of Nassau, and other riders this week at the Babylon Railroad station, urging state lawmakers to help move a 5-point plan ahead to stave off future cuts in the Nassau and Suffolk bus systems.
Bus riders from across Long Island rallied together in support of an Emergency Funding Action Plan; this action plan calls for 1) An emergency appropriation of funding from the State of New York; 2) Increased investment from Nassau & Suffolk Counties; 3) Dedication of a portion of Federal infrastructure monies to Long Island Buses and; 4) Ensure that all tax monies generated through ride-sharing entities on Long Island fund Long Island buses, not the MTA. Riders, advocates, elected officials and local Chambers also made a call for this plan on January 30th. The call for the passing of legislation to redirect a portion of the MTA Payroll tax to Long Island transportation priorities, including NICE bus service in Nassau and Suffolk Transit in Suffolk, was mentioned also. Currently $5 billion is proposed to fund public transit support in the state, with only $500 million allocated to areas not serviced by the MTA.
Many riders like Paul Pressman, a resident of West Islip who uses both fixed and para-transit, felt that the MTA already receives an enormous contribution from Long Island and that the state prioritizes New York City over Suburban bus systems. “There is no money for Long Island transit systems, yet Gov. Cuomo has 1.6 billion to build a new railroad station in NYC. What good is the LIRR to the residents of Long Island who can’t get to the train station and why do the counties have to pay the MTA?” Paul said, “The MTA should be putting money back into efficient transportation solutions that get Long Islanders to be able to use the railroad. It is time the elected state officials of Long Island take care of the people who put them in office.”
Richard Clolery, founding member of the Long island Bus Riders’ Union and a resident of East Meadow, utilizes NICE bus to get to both his jobs and his vocational meetings at YAI/National Institute for People with Disabilities: “I am pleading with NIFA, the County, State and Federal Governments for additional funding. Without it, people that are too old or disabled will have no way to get to doctor’s appointments jobs, or social events. They will be trapped in their own homes, like prisoners unable to get to places and cut off from society.”
Cynthya Rossi, a blind resident of Ridge and SCAT user, also commented on the inaccessibility of the systems. “My rights to accessible public transportation, to equality with people who can drive and to have a life after 8:30 at night should not be at the mercy of either politics or money.”
Dan Caracciolo, a longtime advocate for his and surrounding communities, has been getting the word out on social media, and posted a letter sent to all of his local and state representatives. “The n36 runs from Lynbrook, to East Rockaway, Oceanside, Baldwin and Freeport. It is the ONLY bus route in East Rockaway and connects our community to other bus transfers. We have a lot of residents that use this route for work, school, doctor’s appointments, and even leisure. With a lot of communities focusing on downtown revitalization, restaurant districts, and ways to a good urban planning concept, we need to have reliable access to all modes of public transportation, and this includes buses. In East Rockaway, we also have residents of neighboring communities who rely on the n36 to get to their places of employment in East Rockaway, including our own library! This helps our local economy tremendously! We cannot afford these cuts, especially the n36 as there is no public bus alternate.”
Vision led a group of bi-partisan and bi-county supporters for LI bus service that included small business, labor, human service, transit agencies and over a dozen elected officials two weeks ago. This group called for a related five point Emergency Action Plan that included a portion of the MTA payroll tax reallocated to local bus systems. The next step for these combined efforts will be to head to Albany with the LI Lobby Coalition to seek additional support this budget session.
NYS Comptroller Tom DiNapoli Releases Water Infrastructure Report
New York State’s water systems may require up to $40 billion in repairs and improvement over the next twenty years according to a report issued by State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.
With several high profile system failures across the state, there are more and more signs that the cost of maintaining drinking water systems will only rise in the near future. The most recent state budget proposed $2 billion in appropriation for infrastructure improvement and maintenance, but the EPA has estimated it will cost at least $22 billion overall by 2030. New York’s Department of Health puts the estimate at a much higher total of $39 billion for drinking water projects.
Several areas highlighted in the report for attention include contamination of water systems, which can lead to public health emergencies that raise costs. These can originate from industrial sites in addition to inadequate treatment of waste water. Aging pipes and other structural issues can lead to corrosion which can release lead and other materials into drinking water.
The report has also identified certain municipal systems that are experiencing excessive water loss, up to 50% in some cases. This is likely to come from undetected deterioration, breaks, and other malfunctions in the water distribution system.
The report has recommended that officials prepare for developing challenges and put in place plans to deal with financial and infrastructure emergencies. Capital reserve funds and information campaigns for consumers were among these, as well as options for paying for such things.
You can read the full report here.
Habitat for Humanity Suffolk to Team up with Chipotle for Fund Raiser
On Thursday, March 2nd, Habitat for Humanity Suffolk with team up with Chipotle for a fundraiser at the 435 Walt Whitman Road location in Huntington Station. If you bring in a flyer (located here), show it on your smartphone, or tell the cashier you’re supporting the cause, 50% of your purchase will be donated to Habitat for Humanity Suffolk.
Long Island Business Council to Hold Joint Meeting on March 9th
Please join us for the next meeting of the Long Island Business Council, Co-Sponsored by Vision Long Island, Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce & Suffolk County Alliance of Chambers. The meeting will take place on Thursday, March 9th, 2017, at the East Farmingdale Fire Department, 930 Conklin Street, Farmingdale, from 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM.
Special Guest Speakers will be NYS Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul.
Please RSVP to 877-811-7471 or email@example.com. Attendance is free for Long Island Business Council Members, all others must indicate payment method when registering. Online Registration is available here.
The 2017 Complete Streets Summit
Please join us for the 2017 Complete Streets Summit on Thursday, March 30th, from 8:30 AM – 12:30 PM at The Sustainability Institute at Molloy College, located at 7180 Republic Airport in Farmingdale.
This event consists of a contingent of chambers of commerce, civic associations, local governments, engineering and professional trade groups, transit advocates and members of the public who want safe streets for all modes of traffic. The group looks to coordinate Complete Streets planning efforts, communicate on finding opportunities for local projects, and act as a clearinghouse for information and lobby with a united voice for safe roadways.
Past Complete Streets Summits, held at the Sustainability Institute at Molloy College in Farmingdale, have been gatherings of government leaders, planners, engineers, nonprofits and other community stakeholders who support policy changes to design roadways for all uses – not just automobiles. The Summit was a chance to remind participants of the campaign’s significance.
Online registration is available here. You can also register by contacting Vision Long Island at 631-261-0242 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Long Island Coalition for the Homeless to Hold “Have a Heart for the Homeless” Candlelight Vigil
Please join the Long Island Coalition for the Homeless at their “Have a Heart for the Homeless” Candlelight Vigil on April 4th, 2017 from 6:30PM – 8:30PM, in the Multi-Purpose Room in Roosevelt Hall at Farmingdale State College. The participation of every person who cares will make a difference. Let us show that Long Islanders want to eradicate homelessness and hunger that exist in our affluent society. Please wear RED!
There will be free hair cuts, face painting, story time for children, balloon animals, a candlelighting ceremony, and more. Your group can also help by conducting drives to collect NEW baby items, toiletries, cleaning supplies and non-perishable foods. You can check out the 2017 Vigil KIT that includes everything you need to conduct a successful drive here. You can also join as a sponsor of this important event. Sponsorships include opportunities for Information Tables at the event, as well as company logo on all Vigil T-Shirts! A sponsorship brochure is available here.
Suffolk County Releases Guidelines for Downtown Revitalization Grant
The Suffolk County Department of Economic Development and Planning has released the new set of guidelines for Round 15 of their Downtown Revitalization Grant Program. The grant will be made available for downtown and downtown-adjacent capital improvement projects.
You can review the guidelines in full as well as the scoring system here. A sample resolution and the full Suffolk County Downtown Revitalization Citizens Panel for 2017 is also available at the link. Questions concerning applications and eligibility can be forwarded to Heidi Kowalchyk at 631-853-5925 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Applications must be received by 4:30 pm on Friday, May 26, 2017 by the Suffolk County Department of Economic Development and Planning.
Technical Assistance Grants for Affordable Solar Projects Available
NY-Sun is now accepting applications for the Affordable Solar Predevelopment and Technical Assistance program. This new funding opportunity supports the development of solar projects for multifamily affordable housing and community solar projects serving low-to-moderate income (LMI) households, with up to $200,000 for each approved proposal.
Many LMI households are unable to access benefits from conventional residential solar installations. To help expand access to solar benefits for LMI households, NYSERDA is seeking proposals for projects leading to:
Projects related to on-site solar installations for owner-occupied houses are not eligible for funding through this solicitation. However, NY-Sun provides support to LMI homeowners through the Affordable Solar Program.
Applications may be submitted by local governments, affordable housing, community organizations and service providers working to make solar accessible to LMI communities in New York. NY-Sun will accept and review applications on a rolling basis until all funds are exhausted. Visit the program webpage for more details and the application.
If you have questions about the solicitation, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
DOE Solar in Your Community Challenge Grant
The Solar in Your Community Challenge is an 18-month, $5 million prize competition to support community-based solar programs and projects aimed at providing solar access to low and moderate income communities. The Challenge is aimed at supporting innovators across the U.S. to create scalable solutions that will bring solar to nonprofits, LMI households and local and tribal governments. Selected teams will be provided with seed funding as they complete milestones, receive technical assistance from an online marketplace of qualified experts, and compete to win final prizes from May 1, 2017 to October 31, 2018.
If you are interested in learning more about the Solar in Your Community Challenge and forming a team, please visit the program webpage. The application deadline is March 17, 2017. This program is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative and is administered by SUNY Polytechnic Institute.
Long Island Coalition for the Homeless Seeking Part-Time Housing Coordinator
The Long Island Coalition for the Homeless is seeking applicants for a Part-Time Housing Coordinator for our main office in Amityville. This position requires a strong ability to understand policies and regulations; work with clients and systems to gather required documentation; manage record keeping and reporting duties; utilize Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) and Excel.
Local travel will be also required for this position. Benefits include paid holidays.
The Long Island Coalition for the Homeless must conduct criminal background checks on candidates prior to offering employment for this position.
Interested parties should submit a resume and salary requirements via email to email@example.com. Please do not call the Long Island Coalition for the Homeless regarding this position. Questions should be submitted via email only.
You can download the full job description here.
Intern with Vision Long Island!
Vision Long Island is looking for interns! Our staff likes to say we “wear many hats,” and interns will have to do the same. Interns will assist with planning, design, outreach, event planning, writing, research, attending meetings, reporting, photography, video and more. Bring your unique skill set to the table! We are looking for energetic and conscientious individuals with an interest in urban/suburban planning from a bottom-up perspective. This is a valuable opportunity to work with great people and learn about the issues impacting Long Island. Strong writing skills a plus.
What’s happening on your Main Street this weekend?
For information, visit their website.
Garvies Point Museum and Preserve
For information, visit their website or call 516-439-5218
For information, visit their website or call 516-822-7505
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For information, visit their website or call 516-922-5032
Bow Tie Port Washington
For information, visit their website or call 516-766-0300
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Cold Spring Harbor
For information, visit their website or call 631-324-6850
For information, visit their website or call 631-351-3250
Port Jefferson Historical Society
For information, visit their website or call 631-473-2665
For information, visit their website or call 631-563-0186
For information, visit their website or call 631-862-6575
For information, visit their website or call 631-268-2494
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Streets of the Future may Include Rolling Cargo Bots
Piaggio Fast Forward, a Boston based branch of Vespa creator Piaggio, has developed what may well become the companion of the future, Gita. Gita is a semi-autonomous cargo bot that is designed to follow a predetermined route. Once taught, it can follow the route, but the company feels the robot will typically be used in “follow” mode where it can use optical sensors to stay a few paces behind its human owner.
The robot itself is 26 inches tall and can carry 40 pounds of cargo. It is hoped that having such a machine will encourage people to leave their cars at home or make it easier for people who normally bike or walk.
To read more about this innovative new idea, check out the full story here.
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