Smart Talk January 20th – February 2nd, 2018

Check out this week’s Smart Talk where we look in on Brookhaven’s legal action against the LIRR, receive an update from St. James on their downtown efforts, look in on Governor Cuomo’s new Wind Power plan, and more…

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January 20th – February 2nd, 2018


REGIONAL UPDATES

Rivkin Radler

Through three offices and 160 lawyers, Rivkin Radler consistently delivers focused and effective legal services. They are committed to best practices, requirements that go beyond professional and ethical standards. Many clients have been placing their trust in them for more than 25 years. Unwavering commitment to total client satisfaction is the driving force behind the firm.

They are the advisors-of-choice to successful individuals, middle-market companies and large corporations. Rivkin Radler’s attorneys are leaders in legal, business and political arenas. Many attorneys have received Martindale Hubbell’s AV Preeminent® ranking, signifying that “a lawyer’s peers rank him or her at the highest level of professional excellence.” Their attorneys are recognized as leaders by peer-review programs including Best Lawyers/U.S. News & World Report and Super Lawyers. The Firm is also accredited by the Better Business Bureau.

Their attorneys and professional staff occupy leadership roles in many organizations. They have been named among the Top 100 Private Companies on Long Island by Newsday, and are consistently ranked among the New York Law Journal’s 100 Largest Law Firms in New York.  The Firm is proud to have received Advancement for Commerce, Industry & Technology’s Commitment to Excellence and Leadership award.

“We get tired of asking. We are essentially going to sue the railroad. Think of how absurd this has become.” – Brookhaven Councilman Dan Panico

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Brookhaven Announces Intention to Sue after LIRR Refuses Rail Crossing

Brookhaven Town officials have announced an intention to sue the Long Island Rail Road after a refusal to address decades old requests for grade crossings in Shirley.

An increasing number of traffic jams and snarls led to a public meeting held last year wherein residents called for new rail crossings.  Possible sites of the new crossing include Madison, Hawthorne or Roberts Street.  According to Town officials, that meeting should legally compel the LIRR to respond, but they have yet to do so.

“We get tired of asking,” said Brookhaven Councilman Dan Panico. “We are essentially going to sue the railroad. Think of how absurd this has become.”

The Long Island Rail Road responded to the announcement by stating that they would not add crossings due to “safety challenges,” though it did not elaborate on those.  However, Suffolk County Legislator Rudy Sunderman noted that traffic jams can also create safety issues due to emergency vehicles being stuck due to an abundance of vehicles that could be on the other side.  As part of its response, LIRR cited traffic backups and noise disturbances as reasons for refusing new crossings.

This issue was a key component of the Montauk Highway project in 2002 and remains unfinished while road, zoning and sewer investments moved forward. Report after report recommended this action including a formal emergency evacuation study done many years ago.  Vision Long Island finds the tone deaf response from an important transportation bureaucracy to be disconcerting despite a unanimous need presented at hearing after hearing.  Vision is rarely, if ever, in support of legal remedies to resolve what should be common sense, but we are hopeful this approach will be successful.

You can read more here.

St. James Community Association Provides Update on Downtown District

Nearly 100 St. James residents and business owners were present this past week at a meeting to hear updates on the improvements on their Lake Ave. downtown business district. 

Though the group is somewhat new, they have been making progress as a presence in the community with downtown events, $2 million for beautification, investment in water main infrastructure, and an effort to take on vacant properties and secure sewers. Vision’s Director was the invited guest speaker and covered redevelopment and market realities, grant opportunities and the need for consensus building.

Other issues raised included the process of how to reinvest in vacant storefronts and how to make sure that there is quality design in any new buildings.  There were also questions from the crowd related to mixed-use housing and what it meant to the local area.

Town Councilwoman Lynne Nowick and newly appointed Councilperson Tom were also speakers at the meeting.  Ms. Nowick made it clear during her comments that she is encouraged by the new association and would like to see the recent progress continue even as the community waits for the necessary sewer upgrades.

Congratulations to Kerry Maher Weisse, organization President, and Board member Mario Mattera for all they are doing to bring vitality to their downtown area.  Vision was happy to attend the event and is looking forward to helping in any way possible. 

Town of Oyster Issues New Ordinance to Address Sign Pollution

Vision was out on Wednesday with the Hicksville Chamber of Commerce and the Town of Oyster Bay announcing the new sign code that would create some guidance for signs in the business district.

Many merchants have placed several signs on their storefronts, windows, and adjacent sidewalks in order to advertise their business.  However, particularly on Broadway Ave in Hicksville, residents have raised the concern that the barrage of signs has now increased to the level of “sign pollution”.  This comes at a time where the community is undergoing a revitalization and beautification efforts.

To address the issue, Newly-elected town supervisor Joe Saladino has issued and ordinance limiting merchants to no more than two signs per each storefront. Starting with Broadway in Hicksville and then expanding across the town, code enforcement officers have begun notifying merchant of the change in code.  Those who fail to comply risk a summons and a court date. The town is working with the local Chamber of Commerce to help spread the word notifying business that they have until March before inspectors begin to cite those in violation.

“We are responding to the needs of our residents,” Saladino said. “We will work with the residents and the business community to ensure that we maintain our suburban quality of life.”

Sign pollution has been raised consistently by residents and local businesses since the original visioning process in 2010. It has also been a part of the ongoing concern for Hicksville Downtown Revitalization Committee which represents a number of the civics and the chamber. Community and business leaders are glad to see it now be addressed in some form.

You can read more here and here.

Northport Village Completes Sewer Upgrade

This past week saw the completion of a years-long process to upgrade the Village of Northport’s aging sewer infrastructure.

The final step in the process was the removal of two deteriorating 8-inch cast iron sewer lines and replacing them with a single 12-inch high-density polyethylene line.  The upgrade was necessitated by the ongoing breakdown of the pipes, which presented a danger due to being located under one of the busier roads into and out of the village.  Were the pipes to have continued on in their state, a possible collapse of the road may have occurred and spread pollution in addition to being a traffic hazard.

“The old system is 85 years old, and it was collapsing. The pipes were actually turning into graphite like a pencil, and we needed to replace it before that happened,” said Northport trustee Damon McMullen, the village’s commissioner of wastewater treatment system. “This literally was done in the nick of time.”

The upgrade project was begun in 2013 in accordance with a 2003 agreement between New York, Connecticut, and the EPA to improve water quality in the region.  As part of that agreement, Northport was required to reduce nitrogen output to a maximum of 10 pounds per day.  The project had previously upgraded the Scudder Beach treatment plan and relined sewer main while rehabilitating manholes to prevent outside water from entering the sewer system.

Upgrades to Northport’s sewer plant were part of the LI Lobby Coalition platform in Albany and are past Smart Growth Award recipients.

You can read more here.

Wind Power Plan for NYS Officially Unveiled

Governor Andrew Cuomo officially revealed New York’s offshore wind master plan this week.

Designed to guide development, the plan will generate 2.4 gigawatts of energy by 2030, with $15 million set aside to train people in related jobs.  The State Energy Research and Development Authority said that the plan was designed to guide responsive and cost-effective development of wind energy in the state.  Cuomo has long touted this plan as the way forward for New York, mentioning it prominently in his 2018 State of the State speech.

“The New York Offshore Wind Master Plan is an unprecedented, nation-leading effort that lays the foundation right here in New York for a new American industry,” according to New York State Offshore Wind Alliance Director Joe Martens.

The plan is viewed as a major step forward for renewable energy in New York as well as the state’s plan to have 50% of the state’s power generated by renewables by 2030.  “New York is doubling down on our commitment to renewable energy and the industries of tomorrow,” said Governor Cuomo.

The plan has also gotten a boost recently due to the reduction of costs and maintenance for the wind farms.  This has led to a new desire for wind power off of Long Island as the technology has gotten to a point where it’s comparable to land-based renewable projects.

You can read more here.

Congestion Pricing Raises Concerns in Manhattan

In what has been a long-debated topic, a new proposal for congestion pricing in Manhattan is currently being discussed.

Congestion pricing is a way to discourage unnecessary driving in heavily congested streets while encouraging ridesharing and public transportation.  The current proposal suggest a price of $11.52 for any motorist to enter the busiest part of the city, $25.34 for trucks, and a surcharge between $2 to $5 for Uber and other similar for-hire services.  The pricing zone would cover Manhattan south of 60th Street and make use of electronic tolling similar to what is currently in use on toll bridges.  The amounts are not finalized as Governor Cuomo and City leaders are still currently debating the details without any clear agreement whether to proceed.

Congestion pricing is a concept that has been discussed for many years and deserves consideration.  Vision has spoken with the Queens Chamber of Commerce and other NYC community leaders and believe that issues concerning the proposal need to be vetted by the local communities most impacted.  

Any dollars that come from this proposal that are projected to be derived from Long Island commuters and businesses should be routed to meet the needs of Long Island transit systems like buses, improved LIRR service and road, pedestrian and bicycle improvements.

You can read more here.

Local Elected, Business and Environmental Leaders Protest Off-Shore Drilling on Long Island

This past week saw local leaders and stakeholders come together at the Riverhead Aquarium to protest a plan to open more off shore drilling in the US, including off the Long Island coast.

Representative Lee Zeldin organized the press conference and was among members of the House who have come out in opposition to the plan.  Zeldin has called on Ryan Zinke, the Secretary of the Department of the Interior, to remove Long Island waters from the controversial plan.  He also stated that he believes the plan could be blocked by members of the house through the appropriations process.

“There’s bipartisan support up and down the East Coast to take the entire Atlantic coast off the proposal,” Zeldin said.

Assemblyman Fred Thiele, County Legislator Al Krupski, Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine, Southold Supervisor Scott Russell, Riverhead Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith, Discover Long Island President & CEO Kristen Jarnagin, and Citizens Campaign for the Environment Director Adrienne Esposito were all present to protest the plan.  Statements pointed out that plans to promote fossil fuels are a step backward for energy future as well as the fact that this plan has been panned by politicians of both parties up and down the Atlantic Coast.

“We need to stop this risky scheme,” declared Adrienne Esposito. “This risky scheme will take our oceans and turn them over to the oil industry and forever threaten our ecosystems.”

You can read more here.

Comptroller DiNapoli Releases 2017 Annual Report on Local Governments

This past week saw the release of several annual reports from the State Comptroller’s office, including Mr. DiNapoli’s report on local governments.

The report is an effort to inform the public of growth in their local communities and school districts and to show what is and is not working.  Overall, the report found that local governments been growing steadily, but at a reduced pace.  Fiscal stress has declined to its lowest point in 4 years for local municipalities and school districts.  Unfortunately, employee benefit spending continues to outpace expenditures, perpetuating an ongoing trend.  According to the Comptroller, this may demonstrate local governments deferring needed investments in infrastructure and other capital assets.

However, though this is a worry, it must be balanced against the idea that it is necessary to grow fiscal preparedness in a time of economic uncertainty.  Projected budget deficits and recent changes to the federal tax code all represent financial roadblocks up ahead.

You can read the full report and what it means for our region 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

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 is the Best Place to Live in NY According to Money Magazine

Proximity to Manhattan, Kennedy Airport, acres of Parkland, the Long Island Rail Road, and much more makes Valley stream the best place to live in NY according to Money Magazine. 

“Valley Stream is a wonderful, friendly, welcoming community,” Mayor Ed Fare said at a press conference celebrating the honor.

Numerous factors went into the selection process including its economy, education, affordability, safety, convenience, and overall quality of life.  It is also important to note that Valley Stream has been working tirelessly to reinvigorate their downtown for their residents and surrounding communities to enjoy.  Mayor Ed Fare and the plan for Valley Stream as well as several projects and civic groups have been recipients of Smart Growth Awards in the past due to these efforts.

You can read more here and view Mayor Fare’s press conference here.

Smart Talk

Writer:
Christopher Kyle, Communications Director

Contributors:
Eric Alexander, Director; 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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