Smart Talk January 13th – 19th, 2018

Check out this week’s Smart Talk where we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, review Governor Cuomo’s proposed budget, check in with Hicksville’s revitalization efforts, and more…

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January 13th – 19th, 2018


REGIONAL UPDATES

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.

“Dr. King said that the arc of the universe always bends toward justice. Those of us who genuinely love our nation and want it to truly be ‘one nation under God with liberty and justice for all’ must rededicate ourselves to the work of helping our country rediscover its moral compass.” – Rev. Charles Coverdale of First Baptist Church in Riverhead

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Long Island Remembers Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Vision Long Island Board and staff attended two of the numerous MLK Day celebrations taking place across the region this past Monday.

The first event attended was the 33rd Annual Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Memorial Breakfast with around 700 attendees and hosted by the First Baptist Church of Riverhead.  Four awards were handed out during the breakfast, with 2018 Award recipients including Lillie Crowder, Yvette Hallman, Leroy James Heyliger and Larry Williams.

Vision was especially happy to see Lillie Crowder honored for a career of service, including her later years where we enjoyed working with her with the Gordon Heights Civic Association. She was nominated by another community leader Rabia Aziz.  Community leader Yvette Hallman reflected that “So many people pave the way for our experiences it’s not just your accomplishment alone” and that it’s important to mentor and to “Bring somebody with you” on your journey.

The Rev. Charles Coverdale of First Baptist Church in Riverhead closed the event by reminding everyone to follow in Dr. King’s footsteps and  speak up when necessary. “Dr. King said that the arc of the universe always bends toward justice,” the Rev. Coverdale said in a statement that was also handed out to attendees. “Those of us who genuinely love our nation and want it to truly be ‘one nation under God with liberty and justice for all’ must rededicate ourselves to the work of helping our country rediscover its moral compass.”

Special thanks to Rev. Charles and Shirley Coverdale and Rev. Cynthia Liggon for their ongoing sponsorship of this event and for all the work they do all year long.

Vision staff were also in attendance at the 33rd Annual Awards Luncheon for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration Committee of Nassau. 300 community, government and religious leaders were out with a multi-cultural service that featured youth scholarships, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, and honorees that included Hofstra’s Larry Levy, the INN’s Nancy Burke, JCRC’s Mindy Perlmutter and ISA’s Gerry House.

County Executive Curran used her remarks to commit to diversity in her administration along with the message to not allow the imperfections in each other to limit our progress.

The continued support for this event, which is a staple of Nassau County, is truly something to be admired by the community.

Governor Cuomo Releases Proposed 2018 – 19 Budget

This past week saw Governor Andrew Cuomo release his $168 billion budget blueprint for the state of New York.

The budget has several key provisions that are important to Long Islanders.  One of the primary ones is the way that the budget attempts to address the serious shortfalls of the MTA which is to allow the MTA to directly collect the Payroll Mobility Tax as opposed to the state acting as a pass through.  This would allow the expediting of the $60 million or so that the MTA normally receives.  This is in addition to the $4.8 billion promised to the MTA for operations, which represents a little more than a 7% increase.  The budget also calls for an increase in transportation spending to $313 million.

Cuomo is also looking to initiate a program that will create 1,500 megawatts of storage capacity for energy companies.  This project would be aimed at stabilizing local grids during peak use and creation of a fall back option should renewable sources fluctuate in power delivery.  This program will be paid off budget by tapping funding streams normally reserved for energy research and development.

Along with those there was also a proposal to create a fund aimed at the creation and support of technology driven business.  It is hoped that the fund will help to create a research corridor on Long Island by tapping into current institutions such as the labs in Cold Spring Harbor and Brookhaven as well as Stony Brook University.  There would also be the continuation of the program that awards $10 million in revitalization grants to downtowns in the state, two of which have previously been won by Westbury and Hicksville.  New York will also continue to fund large projects in Nassau and Suffolk County out of what remains of a $550 million fund established for that purpose several years ago.

Cuomo also plans on increasing spending on environmental concerns in the state with a raise in funds for the Department of Environmental Conservations as well as the continued funding of the Clean Water Infrastructure Act, which was passed and bonded in 2017.  There is also an unfunded proposal that would allow for the fast-tracking of wells to be installed in order to treat groundwater contamination at a former Northrop Grumman site.  However, the state has noted that there are sufficient appropriations to get the project up and running in 2019.

Other areas of interest in the budget include money to help subsidize education at public universities and colleges as well as to help pay for meals for poorer students.  There was also a call to pass the stalled Child Victims Act, which was aimed at making it easier for child victims of sexual abuse to receive reciprocity for the crimes committed against them.  There is also a proposed plan to collect revenue on sales tax from internet purchases and the creation of an 8th Regional Economic Development Council.

You can read the Governor’s full budget proposal here, and a more detailed breakdown here.

Long Island Millennials Increasingly Living at Home

Across the Country statistics are showing a marked increase in the number of millennials living at home with their parents, but the numbers on Long Island are especially high.

CBS 2 New York recently came out to Farmingdale to talk with local millennial residents about what it is that is keeping them from moving out and finding their own place in the region.  This was in response to a recent study released by the Rauch Foundation and Long Island Index showing that 4 in 10 young adults on Long Island live with their parents.  While interviewing local residents, the high cost of living on the island was cited as the main culprit, but many also noted the lack of well-paying jobs coupled with high student loan debt.

“We have pre-existing apartments and new apartments coming throughout Long Island in 40 different downtowns,” said Vision Long Island Director Eric Alexander, “so we’re seeing that shift.”

7 in 10 also stated that if they will leave the region for a less expensive one in the next 5 years, but many also stated that they would prefer to stay in the region that they grew up with. While these studies are informative, it is important to remember that land use decisions need to ultimately be made by community residents, business owners and local municipalities.

You can read more on this story here.

Disabled Riders Give Poor Marks to New Suffolk Transit Buses

Newly purchased buses for the Suffolk Transit are causing a stir with disabled riders, who are saying that they do not accommodate their needs.

Disabled riders noted that the buses are difficult to board and turn around in while in a wheelchair.  They are also somewhat narrow, causing riders to constantly bump into or have to work around an individual who needs more space.  Complaints also include steep and unstable ramps, poor lighting, and no ramp accessibility at the rear of the bus.  The buses are smaller than previous buses and are being put into service in local neighborhoods with less ridership.

“Although right-sizing buses is crucial for the system,” said Vision Long Island Program Coordinator Jon Siebert, “ensuring that vehicles are able to be used by all users is as important. More costly paratransit should not be the only option for those with disabilities, and their needs have to be taken into consideration before future buses are purchased.”

Suffolk County has responded by stating that the buses meet federal requirements stipulated by the Americans with Disabilities Act.  They also noted that, while unfortunate, they had expected there would be a bit of a “learning curve” as residents became familiar with the new buses.

You can read more on this story here.

Hicksville Downtown Revitalization Meeting Introduces State Proposals

Vision Long Island board members and staff, Hicksville Downtown Revitalization Committee members, and civic and chamber members attended a presentation this Thursday from NYS Downtown Revitalization Initiative State planners.

The point of the presentation was for state planners to share their design ideas for Hicksville’s downtown.  Fortunately, the preferred scenario is nearly identical to the Town of Oyster Bay’s proposed zoning that has been vetted with the public over a number of years.  The goal of this planning effort is to ultimately invest the $10 million from the state grant with key priorities that include walkability, public space, maintenance, safety and security.

The plan also includes recommendations for ground level walkability improvements, which is something that is in alignment with the Town and community’s rezoning efforts.  Increasing the downtown public space at Kennedy Park and investments in arts, events and cultural activities were also included.

Station area improvements, which have been a priority of the Hicksville Downtown Revitalization Committee, were also part of the presentation and are part of the ongoing work.  Proposed beautification improvements such as the Hicksville Highline were also recognized by the consultants as a long term investment and that street level improvements need to come first. This was in line with the existing community driven planning and rezoning work.  Notably absent were suggestions for 6 story buildings that did not fall in line with the character the community is looking for.

Finally, the NY State consultants recommended that the downtown zoning plan move forward without delay, as changes in land use to reinvest in vacant buildings or parking lots cannot occur without these changes.

Town of Oyster Bay Economic Development’s James McCaffrey presented some of the communication they have had with private property owners that would seek to redevelop in the train station area as part of the rezoning proposal. Small scale mixed use development including retail, apartments, small boutique hotels, a day care facility, health care facilities, a transit training facility, a high tech incubator and a local craft brewery were presented.

Over 100 Hicksville residents and business owners showed up along with 20 from the long running Hicksville Downtown Revitalization Committee. Comments from officials were generally supportive and outlined the process through which local officials would work to possibly implement proposed changes.  There was also talk on how current projects and residents could benefit from the state revitalization grant and how to secure further money to continue the change.  Residents also seemed generally happy with the proposal but there was a sense of nervousness concerning traffic patterns.

Phil Heckler, President of the Hicksville School Board and member of the Hicksville Downtown Revitalization Committee spoke to the synchronicity between the Revitalization plan and the State consultants recommendations. Nassau Legislator Rose Walker spoke to the small scale potential projects that have been underway for some time that can now come to fruition.  Lionel Chitty, Director of the Hicksville Chamber spoke to the movement of existing projects that have been considered for many years.  John Sarcone supported the public space as part of the $10 million investment from NYS.  Councilman Tony Macagnone also supported the investments of NYS money in public space and improvement to small business.  Greg Carman, Oyster Bay Deputy Supervisor spoke to the ability to pull in infrastructure dollars beyond the $10 million grant to secure support from the State.  Nick Sarandis, President of the Hicksville Gardens Civic Association was concerned about traffic from Sears but supports the redevelopment of downtown Hicksville.

Comments from residents included investment and security from the MTA/LIRR station, support for a hotel, concerns about traffic from the Sears area, and one was also concerned about construction equipment and the amount of folks from outside Hicksville who use the area don’t benefit the community. Residents from outside Hicksville were opposed to some of the changes: A resident from Plainview was concerned about parking for her and her family at the train station.  A resident from Syosset was concerned about increased traffic that will impact him and others.

The specter of the Sears redevelopment was a buzz among some in the room and the confusion created by this proposal is still an issue.  Fortunately, the Town of Oyster Bay has pushed back on that proposal until the train station area rezoning is completed.  However, that action by the Town hasn’t been reported so the misinformation that that project is eminent still exists.

Vision Long Island was happy to see the majority of the room filled with familiar faces of residents who have been to numerous revitalization meetings over the years and also meet a handful of new folks.

Affordable Rental Complex Breaks Ground in Speonk

This past Tuesday saw the groundbreaking for the Speonk Commons Apartment Complex at 41 North Phillips Ave, located just across the street from the Speonk LIRR Station.

The project is the product of a partnership between Georgica Green Ventures and the Town of Southampton Housing Authority.  The complex will include 38 income-restricted apartments on a parcel of land coming in at just under 4.5 acres.  Twenty-eight of the new apartments will be restricted to residents making 60% or less of the area’s median income, five will be restricted to 50%, and 4 will be available to residents making up to 90%.  Those last four apartments will help to subsidize the rest of the project.

The complex itself will consist of six two-story buildings that will include 12 studios, 12 one-bedroom apartments, and 12 two-bedroom apartments.  Construction is expected to last about 18 months. Southampton previously approved a zoning change in May of 2017 in order to allow the increased density of the apartments.

You can read more on this here.

Brookhaven IDA Approves Incentives for Port Jefferson Rental Complex

The Brookhaven IDA has approved a set of economic incentives for a 52-unit rental complex in Port Jefferson looking to build on the site of a former boatyard.

The Northwind Group is a currently planning out the $10.8 million project at 2017 West Broadway overlooking Port Jefferson Harbor.  Activity has already begun on the 1.84 acre blighted property, with two long-vacant buildings being torn down.  While prices have not been set for the complex, they are expected to be lower than average.  There is hope that this will help to provide housing for students at the nearby Stony Brook University.

“The developer would not be able to rent these units at these comparably low rents without the IDA’s assistance,” said Frederick Braun III, the IDA’s chairman.

You can read more on this story here.

High Speed Train Opens Between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach in Florida

Paying passengers got to try out the brand new Brightline high speed train on a limited service schedule this past week.

The new train line will service passengers traveling between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach in Florida.  The ride received good reviews from passengers in spite of minor glitches with technology that made it difficult to purchase tickets online.  Most passengers compared it favorably to a first class seat on an airline.

The entire trip takes 40 minutes from one station to the next and costs $10 for the higher density “Smart” Coaches and $15 for the roomier “Select” Coaches.  Children under 12 ride for half price while Seniors, active military, and veterans all get a 10% discount.  Prices may change once full service is implemented.

The service will eventually expand to include line from Fort Lauderdale to Miami and Orlando.  Brightline is currently working to complete construction by the spring for the 30 minute ride to Orlando.  The company will upgrade existing track between West Palm Beach and Cocoa Springs while also laying new track from Cocoa Springs to Orlando.  That construction is expected to begin later this year. 

Future plans without a current timetable include extending rail from Orlando to Tampa Bay and then Cocoa Beach to Jacksonville.  Brightline is also hoping to double its current fleet of five trains to accommodate the new services.

Destination Unknown: Real Estate

The following op-ed was written by Vision Long Island Assistant Director Tawaun Weber and appeared in LIBN as part of the Destination Unknown Real Estateseries, which you can view here.

2018 will bring continued downtown growth and investment in our Island’s infrastructure, but not without challenges.

To address the increasing demand for affordable housing, we need, not only guided subsidies for multi-family projects to make the numbers work, but a series of smaller scale options known as “missing middle” housing that can help fill the gap between larger multifamily and subsidized projects.

Retail trends moving away from malls and larger scale shopping centers create opportunities for mixed-use development in the right locations.

New leadership in places like Hempstead, Smithtown, Oyster Bay, and Riverhead allow for a second look at approaches to planning and more importantly, downtown management for many unincorporated hamlets. With Nassau’s new administration, continued support for downtown and TOD redevelopment while also focusing on various dangerous roadways through traffic calming initiatives is vital.

Continuing to remove our attention and funding from disconnected regional distractions to more community driven projects will help renew community trust in government and support for growth.

With over 15,000 units of TOD housing planned locally moving through the process for approval now and billions of dollars of infrastructure projects, change isn’t just coming – it’s here.

LI Business News Top 40 Under 40 Event February 8th

The Long Island Business News has announced their 40 Under 40 honorees, which is scheduled for February 8th from 6-9 at the Crest Hollow Country Club.

Since 1998, Long Island Business News has taken nominations for outstanding members of the business community on Long Island who are 40 or under. These future leaders of Long Island have already begun to distinguish themselves in business, government, education and the not-for-profit sector. They have a proven track record of career success, are involved in mentoring and promoting their profession and find time to give back to their communities.

Great to see our good friend from East Rockaway and Friends of LI partner Dan Caracciolo recognized along with key staff from Smart Growth supporters Molloy College, PSEG Long Island and Rivkin Radler honored as well.  You can see the list of awardees here, and register for the event here

Upcoming Apprentice Recruitments for Two Unions

Two Long Island-based trade unions have announced upcoming apprentice recruitments.

The Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee for Plumbers, Local Union #200, will conduct recruitment from Jan. 10 through March 28 for 20 plumber apprentices. Applications must be completed in person at 375 Central Avenue, Bohemia from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Wednesday, excluding legal holidays, during the recruitment period. All applications must be received by March 28, 2018.

The Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee for Operating Engineers, Local Union #30, will conduct recruitment from Jan. 22 through Feb. 02 for 25 stationary engineer apprentices. Applications must be picked up at the union office located at 16-16 Whitestone Expressway, Whitestone, Queens between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays, during the recruitment period. These applications must be returned via U.S. Postal Service certified mail and postmarked no later than Feb. 16.

Applicants must be at least 18 years old and hold a high school diploma or a high school equivalency diploma (such as TASC or GED). Plumbers Local 200 applicants must be residents of Nassau or Suffolk.

Other requirements apply. For further information, applicants should contact their nearest New York State Department of Labor office, Plumbers Local 200 at (631) 567-3083 or Operating Engineers Local Union #30 at (718) 847-8484 ext. 239.

NYS Climate Smart Communities Grant Program Funding Available

Funding will be available for inventory, assessment, planning and implementation projects that advance the work of municipalities in addressing climate change. Priorities for the 2017 round include specific adaptation actions that reduce flood risk and increase preparedness for future extreme weather conditions, specific mitigation activities related to transportation and reduction of food waste, and specific Climate Smart Communities certification actions that advance municipal ability in the future to implement adaptation and mitigation projects in the identified implementation categories.

A municipal resolution from the lead applicant authorizing application submission and documenting the availability of local match in the event of grant award must be submitted at the time of application.

For general information and questions on the Climate Smart Communities Program, please contact the Office of Climate Change, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Office of Climate Change, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233, 518-402-8448, climatechange@dec.ny.gov.

NYS DEC Technical Assistance Grants Available

The New York State DEC continuously accepts applications for Technical Assistance Grants (TAGs). TAGs are a citizen participation tool available to eligible community groups to increase public awareness and understanding of remedial activities taking place in their community. TAGs are available to eligible community groups for the purpose of obtaining independent technical assistance in interpreting existing environmental information about an eligible “significant threat” site being remediated in the State Superfund Program or Brownfield Cleanup Program. Technical assistance is intended to help the grant recipient and the community it represents to understand existing environmental data developed about the site, comment on site remedial activities and proposals and share this information with the public.

Funding is limited to $50,000 per site, with no matching requirement. A community group must be a nonresponsible party community group or one that is in partnership with another nonresponsible party community group. The group must be a 501(c)(3), and a group whose members’ health, economic well-being or enjoyment of the environment may be affected by a release or threatened release of contamination at the eligible site. The group must be one whose membership represents the interest of the community affected by the eligible site. Eligible sites must be Class 2 sites on the New York State Registry of Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Sites or sites being remediated under the State’s Brownfield Cleanup Program that the DEC has determined pose a significant threat to public health and/or the environment.

For more information, you can visit the DEC’s site here.

Valley Stream Residents Form Walking Group

In September of last year Tommy Cuccias offered to lead several women who were afraid to walk at night around local neighborhoods.  From that offer a group of 10 residents would form and a month later the Valley Stream Street Walkers took their first official trek.

“It’s awesome, it’s really wonderful,” Bridget Barbaro, a Franklin Square resident, said about the group. “I met a lot of people that live in the area that I wouldn’t have known.”

Since that first walk around 50 men, women and children have joined the group and begun a tradition of twice-weekly walks that has helped to bring neighbors together and introduce new friends.  Walks usually last a little over an hour and cover around 3 miles of ground during each trip.

You can read more on the group here and view their Facebook page here.

Smart Talk

Writer:
Christopher Kyle, Communications Director

Editor:
Eric Alexander, Director

Contributors:
Tawaun Weber, Assistant Director; Elissa Kyle, Planning Director; Jon Siebert, Program Coordinator

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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Northport, NY 11768 
Phone: 631-261-0242. Fax: 631-754-4452.
Email: info@visionlongisland.org

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