Smart Talk February 23rd – March 1st, 2019

Check out this week’s Smart Talk where we look at Islanders using alternate transportation options, attend the latest meeting of the SCAoC, review the new 10-point plan for the MTA, and more…

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February 23rd – March 1st, 2019



For three generations, Posillico has combined an ironclad commitment to quality performance with an unequaled family work ethic, making the company a leader in public works projects. Incorporated in 1946 under the presidency of Joseph D. Posillico, Sr. as a small trucking contractor, the company has grown to become one of the top engineering contracting firms in New York. They employ as many as four hundred people and serve the entire Tri-State area.

Posillico is dedicated to setting the standard for excellence in the construction industry relative to: infrastructure, quality of life and making a difference through innovation and solid relationships at all levels. They know how to solve complex construction problems, completing all projects safely, on time, on target, and on budget.

“Online competition has been particularly fierce. Brick and mortar business are at a disadvantage.  We need measures to protect these local stores.  Small businesses represent the backbone of our economy. To come together and have one voice, you should be commended.

Ronkonkoma HUB is the biggest example of economic development for the region.  As a region of 3 million people Long Island needs a Convention Center and the site can provide that.”” – Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone

“We are proud to kick off 2019 with such support from the local chambers and business stakeholders in Suffolk County.Our robust discussions concern internet sales tax and healthcare options for small businesses also filled the agenda and talking points. We realize that the SCAoC serves the main streets and businesses and is the life blood of our communities.” – Suffolk County Alliance of Chambers Co-Chair Bob Fonti
“We are happy to lead with substantive solutions to complex problems for the small businesses. We plan on continuing to communicate, connect, and collaborate with our local elected officials as well as stakeholders.”  – Suffolk County Alliance of Chambers Co-Chair Gina Coletti

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Numbers Show Alternate Transportation Options need Funding

Vision Long Island was happy to see a recent article in Newsday talking about Long Islanders who are using alternate transportation options beyond just driving and taking the train.

While expanding existing public transportation services as well as safe routes for biking and walking is important, alternate transportation options are also becoming a part of the equation.  As our region plans for more walkable communities, it becomes increasingly important to have a thought to the future as well as funding for these alternate options, as well as for more traditional ones such as busses.

“Biking, walking and bus service just don’t get the dollars,” said Vision Long Island Director Eric Alexander. “There’s an inequity in that.”

The inequity comes from the fact that governments tend to focus solely on rail and highway improvements when allocating transportation funding.  While those are necessary, they are just one part of transportation needs that the island faces.  These sorts of subjects will be covered at the upcoming Long Island Complete Streets Summit, where we will be tracking these issues as well as other transportation priorities for Long Island.

You can read more here.

Suffolk County Alliance of Chambers Hold Meeting Featuring County Executive and Legislators

Vision Board and staff were out at the Suffolk Alliance of Chambers with over 75 local businesses in Hauppauge this week.

“We are proud to kick off 2019 with such support from the local chambers and business stakeholders in Suffolk County,” said Suffolk County Alliance of Chambers Co-Chair Bob Fonti.  “Our robust discussions concern internet sales tax and healthcare options for small businesses also filled the agenda and talking points. We realize that the SCAoC serves the main streets and businesses and is the life blood of our communities.”

Vision staff provided an Albany legislative update on internet fairness, small business savings accounts and transportation funding with the upcoming LI Lobby Day next week.  Suffolk Legislators Steve Flotteron and Bridget Fleming were also present, with Legislator Flotteron and asked local businesses for ideas on how Suffolk County can save money and spend less.  Legislator Fleming spoke on infrastructure dollars helping fund the east end transit system.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone provided an update on the County’s economic development efforts in support of small business.  “Online competition has been particularly fierce,” said executive Bellone.  “Brick and mortar business are at a disadvantage.  We need measures to protect these local stores.  Small businesses represent the backbone of our economy. To come together and have one voice, you should be commended”

Executive Bellone also spoke about the HUB, stating that “Ronkonkoma HUB is the biggest example of economic development for the region.  As a region of 3 million people Long Island needs a Convention Center and the site can provide that.”

Vanessa Lockel from the MTA/LIRR also spoke on their programs for small business, Josh Bienstock covered workplace social media issues, and Albert Brenner from People’s United Bank provided an economic report.

“We are happy to lead with substantive solutions to complex problems for the small businesses,” said Suffolk County Alliance co-chair Gina Coletti. “We plan on continuing to communicate, connect, and collaborate with our local elected officials as well as stakeholders. 

You can read more here.

Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo Announce 10 Point MTA Plan

NYS Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo have announced a 10 point plan aimed at transforming the MTA and creating a sustainable funding stream for the agency.

The plan proposes a number of big changes and will begin with an effort to consolidate the various agencies under the MTA banner under a more efficient organization that will handle the common functions.  Day-to-day operations will still be handled by the separate entities themselves.  They will also be exploring a congestion pricing model to help with funding as well as excise taxes from cannabis legalization and internet sales tax.

Other points include fare pricing controls for future hikes, term limits on MTA Board appointments, efforts to combat fare evasion, an independent audit to examine MTA finances, review of the Capital plan by experts, expediting of the Subway Action Plan, and the Governor and Mayor pledging to work closely with the legislature towards improvements.  One final point is the restructuring of the major construction process that will create more oversight in the process while also cutting costs.

“I strongly endorse this proposal from Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio that addresses the fundamental challenges the MTA faces,” said MTA Acting Chair Fernando Ferrer, “a need for organization-wide reform, cost cutting, additional revenues, and increased efficiency.  This proposal is a holistic cure for much of what ails the MTA, and I hope to see it enacted swiftly for the benefit of our 8.5 million daily customers. It builds on work we are already doing to improve service through aggressive action like the Subway Action Plan; reduce costs through innovative procurement and development models like those used on the LIRR Third Track and Double Track projects; and reduce spending through a mandate to all operating agencies.  Best of all, if the legislature adopts this plan, riders will be spared a fare increase of 30 percent to fund necessary capital costs.  I urge the legislature to act and support Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio in their effort to improve the subways and entire MTA for the people of New York.”

While the MTA is obviously in a position where it needs improvements, it is still unclear how these changes would affect Long Islanders who rely on public transportation to get in and out of NYC for work.  There is also concern for the island for congestion pricing, which has the potential to impact commuters from the region who may not see the benefits enjoyed locally.  Vision Long Island hopes that this plan is the first step in what will be a series of public meetings and hearings as well as a robust discussion on how best to benefit the entire region.

You can read the full 10 point plan here.

NYS Senate Committee to Hold Public Meeting on state of LIRR

NYS Senators have indicated that they will hold a public meeting on the state of the Long Island Rail Road on March 1st.

The hearing will come after state officials sent a letter to the LIRR indicating that the recent performance but the LIRR has been less than adequate.  As such, the senate is indicating that it will take a closer look at the operations of the organization and excerpt more oversight if necessary.  The letter was signed by NYS Senators Leroy Comrie, Timothy Kennedy, Todd Kaminsky, John Brooks, Monica Martinez, Kevin Thomas, James Gaughran and Anna Kaplan.

The meeting represents an effort on lawmaker’s part to draw feedback from LIRR officials and to try and address concerns for riders about the rail system.  The hearing will be lid by Buffalo Senator Tim Kennedy, who is the state’s chairman of the Transportation committee, and Senator Leroy Comrie, who isu chairman of the Corporations, Authorities, and Commissions committee.  The meeting will be second of a statewide initiative to publically discuss transportation issues.

LIRR President Phil Eng has been invited and the railroad has indicated that he will be in attendance.  Anthony Simon, who is the union leader for a majority of LIRR workers, and Mark Epstein, who is chairman of the LIRR Commuter Council, are also expected to attend.  Subjects are expected to range from infrastructure improvement to how the LIRR is spending state funds as well as timeline for completion of major projects and personnel concerns.

“There’s a lot of issues to dig into. Having a hearing just set aside for the railroad hasn’t happened in years,” said Long Island’s Senator Todd Kaminsky, who has been very vocal about the need for reform within the LIRR. “I think that demanding accountability and having the LIRR know that there’s going to be a governmental body that they know they’re going to have to answer to consistently is an important precedent to set.”

The hearing will take place on Friday, March 1st at the 3 pm and will be located in the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building in Mineola.

You can read more at LIBN here and Newsday here.

Vision Long Island Board Visits Downtown Mineola, Hears from Mayor, Developments, and LIRR

Last week, Vision’s board of directors met in the Long Island Railroad’s Third Track office in downtown Mineola followed by a tour of the One Third Avenue development.

Representatives from the Railroad and the construction team presented Vision’s board with both the planned improvements as well as the innovative construction methods they are using to minimize disruption for the rail road and nearby roads.  In addition to the third track itself, there will be improvements at all seven stations along its length, replacement of grade crossings with overpasses to reduce delays when trains pass by during peak hours, improvements to existing overpasses, miles of sound barrier walls, and improvements to numerous substations and interlockings to improve reliability.

The overpasses are being pre-constructed on property near the crossings then slid into place to minimize closures and disruptions.  The replacement of the Post Avenue overpass in Westbury was completed in one weekend with minimal disruption.  The construction is anticipated to be completed by the end of 2022.

After the meeting Vision board and staff toured the recently completed “One Third Avenue” multifamily development by Lalezarian Properties who are also building the Village Green project just a few blocks away.  The tour included several units, a one bedroom, a one and a “half” bedroom and a two bedroom unit.  The property has 311 residential units and includes many amenities including a gym, indoor pool, a roof deck and event room on the top level with views of Manhattan. 

The building is located one block from the Mineola train station and has underground parking for residents and some ground level retail along Third Avenue. Overall, the building has a very pared down and modern feel with high end amenities for its residents.

Vision Long Island was happy to hear from the LIRR on the progress as well as get a tour of one of the Long Island’s newest residential units centered on public transportation hubs.

Suffolk Legislature Proposes Small Business Assistance Program for Forge River Sewer Project

Suffolk County is looking to refer businesses within the newly approved Forge River Watershed Sewer Project to outside low-interest funding in order to assist with costs of connection to the newly established sewer district, once constructed.

Construction costs for the sewer project will be funded entirely by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA will provide up to $167,780,000 in construction funding for the sewer project. In addition to the FEMA funding, New York State is providing low-interest financing and a grant of $2 million, to fund design and engineering costs. This initial funding of the first two phases of a larger four-phase project will help to connect approximately 1,879 residential properties and at least 150 businesses in the Mastic-Shirley area to a collection system that will flow to a state-of-the-art wastewater treatment facility. Without this grant funding, the cost of this project would be prohibitive.

Funding streams allow for connection costs for homes to be paid for, however businesses would not receive subsidies. If approved by the Legislature, the county will refer owners of small businesses within the proposed Forge River Watershed Sewer District to the CDCLI Funding Corporation, a non-profit organization, which has the ability to offer certain Suffolk County businesses, grants and loans at competitively priced interest rates, should businesses need or wish to supplement the cost of connecting to the sewer system.

The measure will go to public hearing next week, and if approved, will greatly assist businesses within the Forge River Watershed Sewer District connect to sewers once constructed.

You can read the proposed law here.

National Grid looks for support on Northeast Supply Enhancement Project

National Grid is reaching out to ask for letters of support concerning the Northeast Supply Enhancement Project (NESE).

Williams Transco is developing, at National Grid’s request, an expansion tothe existing Transco natural gas pipeline system. The project will provide National Grid access to an additional 400 million cubic feet of natural gas per day to meet the company’s growing energy demand in time for the 2020/2021 winter heating season. The project will add energy infrastructure in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York to the existing pipeline system in the Floyd Bennet Field area in Brooklyn. There is no other work required in the New York region.

Now they are reaching out to stakeholders looking for support so as to get approval to move forward. The NESE project is extremely critical to support our infrastructure, and avoids us from facing a moratorium on gas expansion in the future. 

You can file a comment on the project by doing the following:

1. Go to > Documents & Filings > eComment
2. Create a FERC Online Account
3. Once you’ve authorized your account, you will receive an email on how to submit comments
4. Make sure to file all comments to docket # CP17-101 – Northeast Supply Enhancement
5. Enter your comments, Copy & paste, or attach a Word or Text file.
6. Click Submit

You can read more on the NESE Project here.

Complete Streets Summit to be held on March 29th

The 7th Annual Complete Streets Summit is scheduled to be held on Friday, March 29th from 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM at the Sustainability Institute at Molloy College. 

The event is held annually by the Complete Streets Coalition in an effort to coordinate planning efforts, identify funding opportunities, act as a clearinghouse for information, and create a coherent message to help with lobbying efforts in Albany.  The event gathers experts from across the transportation world who will present and discuss what is currently underway as well as future efforts.

Further details can be found here, and you can register online here.

LICH to hold Annual Vigil for the Homeless on April 2nd

Long Island Coalition for the Homeless will hold its annual vigil for the homeless on the April 2nd, 2019, from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at Farmingdale State College’s Roosevelt Hall, located at 2350 Broadhollow Road in Farmingdale.

Join the Long Island Coalition for the Homeless, invited guests, members of the community, and others as they raise awareness about homelessness and poverty on Long Island.  This annual event combines an Information Fair about essential programs and services available on Long Island, free health screenings and health management information; free haircuts; activities for the kids: face painting, magicians, story time; and the distribution of essential items to those in need.

There will be a brief candle lighting ceremony in remembrance of those who have been lost due to homelessness and poverty, hear stories of challenge and triumph, and combat the stigma of poverty.

The event is free. All funds raised through this event go to support the Vigil and the Long Island Coalition for the Homeless’ important work for homeless and at risk Long Islanders.

Long Island Coalition for the Homeless seeks Training Manager

The Long Island Coalition for the Homeless is seeking applicants for a Full-Time Training Manager for our main office in Amityville.  This position requires an ability to understand policies and regulations; research resources for homeless and at-risk households; learn the regional Coordinated Entry and SOAR processes and training community stakeholders on same. Must be able to research and coordinate other training opportunities within the community for members of the region’s Continuum of Care members; and maintain records on training and outcomes.

This position will require local travel, as needed. A clean Driver’s License is required for this position. 

Benefits after probationary period will be available. These include paid time off (vacation, holiday, sick, personal), medical insurance for the employee (premium paid by LICH), Dental and Vision insurance optional, Life Insurance for the employee and Simple IRA plan (with employer match).

Interested parties should submit a resume and salary requirements via email to Please do not call the Long Island Coalition for the Homeless regarding this position

Pedestrian Deaths have Reached their Highest Level in Almost 30 Years

2018 saw a nearly-30 year peak in pedestrian deaths according to a report released this past Thursday on the subject.

There were an estimated 6,227 pedestrian fatalities in 2018 according to the report, which cited distractions due to smartphones and the prevalence of SUVs on the road as primary reasons.  This accounted for almost 16% of all motor-vehicle related deaths, which is up from 12% just a decade ago though all other traffic-related deaths only grew by 5%.

The numbers were a cause for alarm but traffic safety experts, who blame a nationwide series of road networks centered more on cars getting from place to place quickly rather than pedestrian safety.  These numbers have been on a steady increase since pedestrian deaths had plummeted from between 1990 and 2009. 

“It’s very bleak,” said Richard Retting, of Sam Schwartz Consulting, who wrote the report. “We’re seeing a complete reversal of the progress that had been made in the 1980s and up until 2009.”

Since then, a growing shift from passenger vehicles to SUVs and light trucks have created a pool of vehicles on the roads that are more likely to injure pedestrians than others at similar speeds.  The number of deaths involving SUVs has risen by 50% since 2012 while passenger cars have only seen an increase of 30%.  Another trend has been the rise of distractions on the road for both vehicles and pedestrians alike. 

The report noted that officials do have the option to take steps for safety improvement for pedestrians.  Possible solutions include installing devices at midblock crosswalks, improving street lighting, and stepping up speeding enforcement in high foot-traffic areas.  Education and public awareness campaigns for drivers were also a possibility.

You can read more at the Wall Street Journal here (subscription required), and view the report here.

Smart Talk

Eric Alexander, Director

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 for consideration.

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Vision Long Island
24 Woodbine Ave., Suite Two 
Northport, NY 11768 
Phone: 631-261-0242. Fax: 631-754-4452.

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