Smart Talk January 26th – February 1st, 2019

Check out this week’s Smart Talk where we look at proposed cuts to AIM funding, review a plan connecting LI to the Empire State trail, check out the proposal at the Sears site in Hicksvile, and more…

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January 26th – February 1st, 2019


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The following quotes are in response to to proposed cuts in NYS AIM funding:

“It is an important amount because, as I said, if we knew about that [before the budget vote] and didn’t want to cut somewhere else in the budget, we would’ve had to go above the cap.” – Great Neck Plaza Mayor Jean Celender
“Considering the significant financial support the State receives from the Town of Huntington and the Long Island region in general,” said Supervisor Lupinacci, “it is disappointing to learn of the unprecedented $59 million in cuts Governor Cuomo has proposed in his 2020 New York State Budget, effectively gutting the unrestricted state revenue sharing program known as Aid and Incentives to Municipalities (AIM), significantly affecting the Long Island region.” – Huntington Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci
“Our hope is that when we can give these facts to our state legislators that they will realize that this, although a small amount of the state budget, is very very important to the villages.” – Nassau County Village Officials Association Executive Director Ralph Kreitzman

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NYS Budgets Proposes Cuts to AIM funding

In a move that would hit most local municipalities, the proposed NYS budget slashes Aid & Incentives for Municipalities (AIM) funding to most local Towns & Villages.

The loss of funding would hit Nassau villages hard, with only two out of the current 29 recipients retaining any of the funding in the Governor’s proposal.  In response, local Town and Village officials have been contacting state legislators to try and restore this important stream of funding that helps to bring back important resources sent to Albany.

The loss of funding would mean the contraction of village budgets that are already severely limited in ways that they can raise revenue.  Some villages could see a loss of upwards of 2% to their annual budgets, though the average cut will be in the neighborhood of 0.67%.  AIM funds themselves comprise only one one-hundredth of 1% of the total $172 billion budget.

“Our hope is that when we can give these facts to our state legislators that they will realize that this, although a small amount of the state budget, is very very important to the villages,” said Nassau County Village Officials Association executive director Ralph Kreitzman.

If the cuts were to be realized it would be especially tough on some villages that have begun improvement plans under the current funding model.  In particular, Great Neck Plaza would lose $65,000 in funding at a time when they passed a budget aimed at keeping the Village under the property tax while balancing necessary road repairs.

“It is an important amount because, as I said, if we knew about that [before the budget vote] and didn’t want to cut somewhere else in the budget, we would’ve had to go above the cap,” said Great Neck Plaza Mayor Jean Celender.

Suffolk Towns and Villages have also expressed dismay at the proposed cut, with a recent press conference being held at Huntington Town Hall to push back on the proposed cuts.  The bipartisan group of Town Supervisors and Village Mayors including Town of Babylon Supervisor Rich Schaffer, Town of Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci and Councilwoman Joan Cergol, Town of Riverhead Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith, Town of Southampton Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joe Saladino, Suffolk County Presiding Officer Duwayne Gregory, and Village of Northport Mayor Damon McMullen.  NYS Assemblyman Fred Thiele and Senator James Gaughran were also on hand to represent the State, and have pledged to try and work with Governor Cuomo to have the funding restored.

“Considering the significant financial support the State receives from the Town of Huntington and the Long Island region in general,” said Supervisor Lupinacci, “it is disappointing to learn of the unprecedented $59 million in cuts Governor Cuomo has proposed in his 2020 New York State Budget, effectively gutting the unrestricted state revenue sharing program known as Aid and Incentives to Municipalities (AIM), significantly affecting the Long Island region.”

Huntington is set to lose about $1.1 million in funds if the AIM cuts are realized.

The Suffolk County Supervisor’s Association also sent a letter to Cuomo opposing the move.  The letter stated that any such cuts could result in the raising of local taxes or the tapping of reserve funds. The Governor’s office did point to those reserve funds when questioned on the cuts, but the Supervisors pointed out that many of them are just now recovering after being used during the 2008 financial downturn.

Continuance of AIM funding was a priority for the LI Lobby Coalition in last year’s platform and we continue to support this important source of funding for local municipalities.  We urge our readers to contact their local legislators on this important issue to ensure that Towns and Villages can get this revenue for muich-needed projects.

You can read more at The Island Now here, and Newsday here.

Trust for Public Land Unveils Plan to Connect LI Trails with Empire State Trail

The Trust for Public Land has unveiled a $114 million plan that would connect Long Island Trails with the Empire State Trail.

Long Island’s portion would include a network of trails that stretch from one end of the island to the other while cutting inconspicuously through the middle of its built-up areas.  The Trust is aiming to connect residents with more outdoor areas that are becoming more crowded and difficult to find as development spreads across the region.

The plan comes after an extended period where the Trust consulted with local communities to find the best possible links for the proposed hiking trail.  Half of the trail would be along roads while the other half would cut through natural outdoors areas of the island.  The group is also talking with LIRR about possibly connecting some biking trails with train stations in order to encourage commuting by bicycle.

“A trail on existing infrastructure that links together Long Island communities and parks will provide many benefits,” said the Trust’s NYS director Carter Strickland, “including nearby opportunities for residents to get healthy by walking, jogging, or biking, sustainable transportation to jobs, neighbors, or the train station, and a weekend adventure for friends, family, and tourists.”

The network of trails would begin with a 21-mile link ranging from Eisenhower Park to Edgewood Oak Brush Plains Preserve in Bethpage.  This opening project would cost in the neighborhood of $20 million based on estimates and is almost entirely funded by federal grants.  Planning for the project is still underway, but the Trust hopes to have funding completely secured by 2020 and to open portions of the trail by 2021.

You can read more here.

Comptroller DiNapoli Releases Report on Local Governments

The Office of NYS Comptroller Tom DiNapoli has released its 2018 annual report on local governments, which features a variety of data including the state of, legislation affecting, and services and resources for local governments.

The report focused on the fiscal year ending in 2017 and summarized the financial state of the State’s counties, cities, towns, villages, school districts and fire districts outside of New York City.  This year’s report found that, in general, the finances of local governments are generally stable, but did note that there is considerable variation across classes of government and the regions of the State.  New York City was excluded.

The report also covers the general trends in the finances of local governments.  This includes examining local revenue, expenditures, and debt along with the training and audit activity of the comptroller’s office itself. 

This year’s version of the report includes in-depth charts and graphs to help breakdown the data, which are available online for the first time here.  The full report is available here.

Developers of Former Sears Site in Hicksville Hold Informational Meeting

Vision Board and staff were out with members of the Hicksville Downtown Revitalization Committee at the Hicksville Community Center to hear plans for the proposed development at the former Sears site.  The event, hosted by developers Seritage Growth Properties, was not noticed and audience assembled by word of mouth, but the reaction was the same as past plans: plenty of questions and still largely negative. 

The proposed project would be built on the site of the former Sears building in Hicksville, which was promised to the developers by the previous Oyster Bay administration and former planning director.  However, the proposal has no relationship with the ongoing revitalization of Hicksville’s downtown, centered on the LIRR station.

The development would attempt to shift that center of activity to the Sears location, which runs counter to the years of substantial improvements and community outreach that the Town has been conducting.  Hicksville’s downtown has historically been the train station and Broadway area as the center of community for local residents for years and is their preferred area for redevelopment.

The current proposal shows triple the amount of previous development on the site from roughly 300,000 sf of development to nearly 900,000 sf but the community benefit is unclear.  There are 500 apartments planned that would have monthly rents of $3,000 to $3,500 range with no affordable units.   The developers promised to outline their proposed public benefits at future meetings.   The big question asked at the meeting, and will be asked more clearly in future meetings and hearings is: It is clear that the development is good for the developer but how is this project good for downtown Hicksville?  

Seritage are scheduled to speak with the Hicksville Community Council next week and the Hicksville Chamber in the coming weeks to try and answer some of the lingering questions.  Stay tuned for future updates…..

Sons of Italy Hold 25th Anniversary Winter Charity Ball

Vision Board and staff were happy to join with over 300 guests at the NYS Grand Lodge Foundation Order of Sons of Italy’s 25th Anniversary Winter Charity Ball this past week.

The event honored our good friend and colleague Suffolk Coalition of Chamber’s Gina Coletti. They also honored the Maria Regina Residence & Sister of St. Joseph’s and Grand Lodge President Robert Ferrito.

It was great to see the fellowship and support for charity and public service for the outstanding honorees

LIRR President Sets Listening Tour Dates for Nassau and Suffolk County

LIRR President Phil Eng has announced the continuation of the ‘Customer Conversations’ forums located across the service territory as part of the LIRR’s efforts to have an open dialogue with customers about service and major initiatives.  Daily commuters, leisure travelers, community members and stakeholders are encouraged to attend and engage in constructive dialogue with President Eng and other LIRR senior officials and subject matter experts who will be available to hear about their experiences, share feedback and to answer questions.

The following dates have been set for a forum in both Counties:

Nassau County
 Wednesday, February 6, 2019
Where: William P. Bennett Hicksville Community Center (28 W. Carl St., Hicksville, NY 11807). Closest LIRR Station: Hicksville (0.5 miles)

Suffolk County
 Wednesday, February 13, 2019
 Wyandanch Station (Straight Path and Long Island Avenue), Wyandanch, NY 11798

Doors will open for the events at 6 p.m. and attendees will have the opportunity to meet both Mr. Eng and experts from various LIRR department.  There will be a short presentation at 7 pm followed by a Q&A with the event to conclude by 8:30.

Motown Concert by Ronkonkoma Chamber for Charity on February 16th

The Ronkonkoma Chamber of Commerce will be hosting Motown in Our Town, a tribute to The Temptations& Gladys Knight & The Pips starring Shadows of the 60’s.

Tickets are $39.50, with proceeds helping students in the community. The Chamber also plans to make a donation to the Andrew McMorris Fund.  Andrew is the Boy Scout that was killed in October by a drunken driver.

The event will be held on February 16th at 7:30PM at Connetquot High School, 190 7th Street in Bohemia.  You can buy tickets here, or call 631-698-9696 for more information

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.

Suffolk County Announces $500,000 in Downtown Revitalization Grants

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has announced that applications for Round 17 of the Suffolk County Downtown Revitalization Grants Program are now available.

A pool of $500,000 is available for partial funding of capital projects located in, or adjacent to, downtown areas on municipally-owned property.  Award recipients will be selected by the Suffolk County Downtown Revitalization Citizens Advisory Panel following a competitive application process.

 Suffolk County will host an Applicant Training Session at the H. Lee Dennison Building Media Room on February 14, from 2:00pm – 4:00pm, and applications are due by 4:30pm on May 24, 2019.

 Grant applicants must be organizations that represent a downtown area and who partner with their local municipality.  Organizations that represent downtown areas including business improvement districts, chambers of commerce, civic associations, historical societies, beautification societies, and local development corporations are eligible applicants. Towns or villages who partner with a community organization are required to pass resolutions supporting the project on which the two entities partner. Projects must be capital in nature and have a significant and sustainable impact that enhances economic activity.  

Among the various projects that are eligible for grants are public parking facilities, curb and sidewalk construction, pedestrian walkways, street lighting, public restrooms, disabled accessibility, renovations to existing structures, and cultural facilities. The criteria for eligible projects include that the project must be a capital improvement project, funding request must be at least $10,000, the organization must partner with a municipality and be located on municipally-owned property in or adjacent to a downtown, and the project life-span must be at least 15 years.

In 2018, Suffolk County received 18 applications for the Round 16 grants and 11 projects were funded. A pool of $500,000 was made available to partially fund qualified capital projects. Since 1997, Suffolk County has awarded over $12 million in funds for Downtown Revitalization initiatives.

The Downtown Revitalization Citizens Advisory Panel utilizes a point system to evaluate each application to ensure projects that receive funding will make the greatest contribution to the long-term improvement of local downtowns and have a positive economic impact on Suffolk County as a whole. The application and guidelines can be found here.  For more information on the Suffolk County Downtown Revitalization initiative, visit

Arthur Kunz Memorial Scholarship Applications Being Accepted

The Long Island Section of American Planning Association’s NY Metro Chapter is pleased to announce that they will be awarding up to three Arthur Kunz Memorial Scholarships for attendance at the APA National Conference in April 2019.   
The scholarships will provide $1,500 to awardees for attendance at the APA National Planning Conference that is being held in San Francisco, California, April 13 thru April 16, 2019.    
Arthur H. Kunz was a Long Island planner who was committed to preserving and enhancing Suffolk County by balancing its growth and development with environmental protection and played an integral part in Suffolk County’s development for almost 30 years.  He worked for the Nassau County Planning Commission from 1958 to 1969.  In 1969, he became Assistant Planning Director for the Suffolk County Department of Planning and Director in 1989.  Arthur Kunz was a straightforward and highly regarded man whose planning knowledge, commitment to public service, and professionalism improved the quality of life in Suffolk County.  Since 1994, the Long Island Section has been awarding planning scholarships in his memory. 
Eligible applicants include Long Island based entry-level planners (five or less years out of college or five years or less in a professional planning position) and students from Long Island enrolled in a planning-related program (undergraduate or graduate studies).   
The $1,500 scholarship will cover the majority of expenses related to the conference registration, APA membership for one year for non-members (and non-students, as APA student membership is free), and some additional expenses.  Mr. Kunz spent most APA conferences attending as many mobile workshops as possible and believed in the value of seeing planning in action in other parts of the country.  Therefore, a portion of the scholarship is to be used to pay for participation in least one mobile workshop.  
If you are a new planner working on Long Island or a student of planning (or in a related field) and are from Long Island and wish to apply for a scholarship to attend the 2019 APA National Conference, please send a letter of interest and a copy of your resume (pdf format preferred) to LI Section Treasurer Kathy Eiseman at with a copy to Sean Sallie, Section Director, at  The letter of interest should include your interest in the planning field, goals for a career in planning on Long Island and what you hope to gain from attendance at the National Conference and participation in a mobile workshop.

Central Pine Barrens Commission Looking for Fire Management Specialist

The Central Pine Barrens Joint Planning and Policy Commission, through the Suffolk County Water Authority is currently accepting applications for a Fire Management Specialist. This position will encompass ecological management, planning and stewardship projects relating to prescribed fire within the Central Pine Barrens to foster biological diversity, natural resource conservation, ecosystem protection and restoration. Specifically, this position will be strongly focused on fire management plan development and implementation; pre and post management monitoring; and long term monitoring to improve forest and grassland health, resiliency to emerging species (such as southern pine beetle) and habitat for rare and endangered species. Individuals with experience in fire ecology; leading and/or supporting prescribed fires and prescribed fire planning, conducting habitat restorations, and ecological monitoring activities are encouraged to apply.

Individuals with a strong research background; experience in fire ecology; leading and/or supporting prescribed fires, conducting habitat restorations, and ecological  monitoring activities are encouraged to apply.   

Aapplications can be submitted through the Suffolk County Water Authority website Apply Here .

The mission of the Central Pine Barrens Commission is to manage land use within the Central Pine Barrens to protect vital ground and surface waters and region’s vast and significant natural, agricultural, historical, cultural, and recreational resources for current and future Long Island residents. Further information on the Central Pine Barrens Joint Planning and Policy Commission can be found by visiting our website:

Tiny Homes are Emerging across the US

Vision is enthused to see this housing option, one that has been out there for many years, from the Smart Growth and New Urbanist movement appear in USA Today.

As Americans we should have choices on the range of housing options available. If folks want to live in smaller spaces for whatever reasons, whether to lower their carbon footprint, have a more affordable living option, or simply because they don’t need giant spaces to store endless amounts of stuff, those alternatives should be available. It will be interesting to see if we see any projects like this emerge on Long Island.

You can read more here.

Smart Talk

Eric Alexander, Director

Christopher Kyle, Communications Director; Tawaun Weber, Assistant Director; 
Elissa Kyle, Placemaking Director; Jon Siebert, Administrative Director

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Vision Long Island
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Northport, NY 11768 
Phone: 631-261-0242. Fax: 631-754-4452.

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