Smart Talk July 20th – 26th, 2019

Check out this week’s Smart Talk featuring the first meeting of the Main Street Alliance, release of final report for Belmont Arena and more…

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July 20th – 26th, 2019


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H2M Architects + Engineers

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Over 100 Gather at First Meeting of the Long Island Main Street Alliance

Over one hundred small businesses, chambers, civics and local officials braved flash floods on Tuesday in Farmingdale for the first meeting of the LI Main Street Alliance to focus on bringing resources to their downtown business districts.

Speakers included Albert Brenner from People’s United Bank, Harry Coghlan from the Nassau County IDA, Tony Catapano from the Suffolk County IDA, John Keating from PSEG Long Island, Kathy Wisnewski from National Grid, and Peter Daly from GettinLocal all spoke at the event.

It opened with a welcome from Vision Long Island Director Eric Alexander and a thank you to the participating organizations for the event. This included the Long Island Business Council, the Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce, the Suffolk County Alliance of Chambers, and Vision Long Island. 

The first order of business was addressing the moratorium on natural gas that impacts 2,400 applications for service in the last two months.  Of those 400 applications are for new service which impacts the construction of 12,000 residential units in the region with roughly 2,000 from downtown, TOD, Main Street and affordable housing units on Long Island.  The delay also impacts commercial and institutional development including downtown small businesses, hospitals, schools, supermarkets, industrial and office buildings.  The remaining 2,000 applications in the moratorium are conversions from carbon polluting home heating oil to natural gas or expanded gas services for residential homes or local businesses.

The attendees spoke of delays for downtown TOD and affordable housing projects and small businesses openings in downtown Farmingdale, Central Islip, Bellport, Baldwin, Lynbrook, Uniondale, Huntington Station among others.  Letters are being collected to the NYS DEC who will make the final decision on the proposed “Williams pipeline” and public demonstrations are also being planned. 

There was also the announcement of a rally in Lynbrook to raise support for passage of this important regional project.   The rally will take place August 7th at 10 am in downtown Lynbrook and the Mayor and some Trustees will be there.  People can also continue to write letters of support here.

Albert Brenner Senior Vice President of People’s United Bank provided a comprehensive economic update for the region that includes a slow but long economic expansion with a decline on LI of manufacturing jobs into health care and social services delivery.  He covered our region’s assets and opportunities with a focus on downtowns to increase density for housing and commercial development, preserve existing housing stock, provide small business incubation.  To the delight of the attendees he also emphasized the economic importance of placemaking for improved public spaces in our Main Street business districts. He started by stating that even though you may not see a direct reflection of trends in the economic market on Main Street, that all economics was local.  Mr. Brenner talked about how we are in the longest period of economic growth in the US right now, but that it’s been exceptionally slow when compared to previous periods.  However, Main Street provides certain unique challenges that require investment by both private and public entities.  Aging building stock needs to be updated while new types of businesses are needed to attract foot traffic and bring outside money into the area.  There’s also now a need for community in the downtowns as millennials have shown a preference for urban living.  This comes as Long Island’s population is aging and there is a rising need for affordable housing to help keep youth on Long Island.

Harry Coghlan Director of the Nassau IDA spoke about their actions to create local partnerships and increased transparency of IDA funding with a full commitment to downtown growth.  They also now have a radio show to better communicate the economic development activities in Nassau County. Mr. Coghlan began by talking about how his background was in the private sector and how that gave him the perspective to see that the IDA needed to raise awareness about its mission.  He moved to begin marketing and advertising the IDA as a resource for Main Street businesses.  He also talked about how the IDA is collaborating with Suffolk IDA and local businesses to create a better environment for everyone.  In particular, the IDA has partnered with Discover Long Island and National Grid to create a “Businesses Belong on Long Island” campaign.  He also took time to praise the work of some downtowns on Long Island, such as the work in the Town of Hempstead to create a path forward on important regional projects.

The Suffolk County IDA’s Tony Catapano was up next, talking about his 20 years of experience with the organization.  The IDA has been in existence for 50 years now and, in that time, has evolved beyond its industrial roots into an tool used to assist Long Island’s economy.  Part of that support includes finding places for residents in downtowns to support local business.  This includes assisting a couple of projects in Huntington Station and the Port Jeff shipyard project as well as support for the small business incubator LaunchPad in Huntington.  Mr. Catapano also talked about Suffolk County’s Downtown Revitalization program, which has partnered with multiple municipalities to help revitalize neglected areas.  The IDA has also worked to educate by funding studies into TOD in downtowns. Mr. Catapano spoke about their efforts underway with projects in downtown Kings Park, Ronkonkoma HUB, Huntington Station, Northport and their ongoing commitment to Main Streets and transit oriented development.   Both IDA’s are working together on regionwide marketing programs to attract and retain local businesses and jobs.

John Keating from PSEG Long Island was the next speaker, and he started by laying out a brief history of how the company came to be in charge of Long Island’s electric grid on behalf of LIPA.  He also spoke about how they were the most improved utility company in the nation, improving from last to middle of the pack in recent years.  One of the ways they’ve done that is to reach out to local business with new economic programs, which also included over 1100 volunteer outreach events.  PSEG worked to implement a Main Street Revitalization Program as well as a Vacant Space Program.  Both of these have helped to fill previously vacant storefronts and bring new life to local downtowns.  Local developer Michael Puntillo was in the crowd and stood up to add his voice to the effectiveness of these programs.

Kathy Wisnewski from National Grid talked next on the work that her company has been doing to help storm-harden gas lines that were damaged by saltwater during Sandy.  She’s also talked about the Cinderella program with $250,000 in grants available for rehabilitation.  This is just part of a half dozen economic development grants that include brownfield redevelopment, marketing, efficieny programs, rebates for maintenance upgrades, an insulation among other things.  She also talked about the ongoing issue with NESE pipeline and how it has held up development in Brooklyn and Long Island.  Since May 15th National Grid has received 2400 applications, including 420 for new constructions and 2,000 housing units on Long Island.  Though National Grid is still taking applications, nothing can be processed at the moment.  The comment period is still open for the project until August 7th, and you can write your support here.

The final speaker of the day was Peter Daly from GettinLocal, who spoke on how to bring customers and sales to Main Street. The Westbury-based mobile marketing company works to make Main Street companies more visible in today’s online market.  Greater than 65% of all searches take place on a mobile device, which has led major companies to focus efforts on reaching those devices.  This has left Main Street businesses at a disadvantage when someone less than a mile from their location can’t see it on a search.  He also talked about the need to move beyond just a mobile website and focus more on promoting the business itself, which is what his company focusses on.

Other downtown and coalition updates included Gina Coletti from the Suffolk Chambers who covered their work creating a health collaborative to provide health care for local businesses and Julie Marchesella and Mariano Ugalde from the Nassau Chambers spoke about their participation in the Nassau HUB next steps coalition mapping out plans for the Coliseum area and other upcoming events.  Elizabeth Wellington from the LI African American Chamber covered their groups networking meetings growing the Island’s diverse small business base.   Updates from individual downtown communities and the LI Business Council were also provided.

The LI Main Street Alliance is convened by Vision Long Island for the 40 Long Island communities that have downtown revitalization plans and programs creating a unified public voice to bring attention and resources to local neighborhoods.

Hicksville Chamber Executive Director Lionel Chitty Appointed as Director of Nassau County Minority Affairs

Congratulations to our good friend Lionel Chitty for his nomination to the post of Director of Nassau County Minority Affairs. Vsion has worked closely with Lionel in his many roles as part of the Hicksville Chamber, Town of Oyster Bay and the Vision Board. This is a great choice for Nassau County. We know his relationships with a broad spectrum of leaders from the minority community and all local communities is a tremendous resource. Check out the story here.

Rockville Centre Celebrates Opening of New Dinosaur Exhibit

Vision was out with our friends at People’s United Bank, Cameron Engineering, Trinity Solar, Local 25 Electrical Union, Village of Rockville Centre and Nassau County Executive Laura Curran for the grand opening of a very cool Dinosaur Exhibit at the Tanglewood Preserve in Rockville Centre.

The Center for Science, Teaching & Learning (CTSL) in Rockville Centre will host the new exhibit, dubbed Dinosaurs! And People’s United Bank Animal Adventure, in its new 35,000 square foot WAC Hall of Science.  The theme of the educational attraction is how animals adapt and survive, which will be demonstrated through a unique intermix of dinosaur models and live animals. 

As a science and STEM education focused not-for-profit organization, CSTL is dedicated to providing people of all ages with a place to engage in both formal and informal learning. CSTL also creates signature corporate programs and delivers educational workshops.  It is housed in a

“Situated within Nassau County’s 11-acre Tanglewood nature preserve, The Center for Science Teaching and Learning continues to raise the bar with innovative and unique programs and exhibits that attract over 150,000 residents and visitors annually, bringing them face-to-face with animals, nature, and hands-on science,” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran. “This fascinating new attraction will not only serve as a valuable educational resource for local schools and camps but spur local economic activity by attracting visitors from around the region.”

Dinosaurs! and People’s United Bank Animal Adventure is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for children under 10 and children under one are free. Tickets can only be purchased on site. For special group rates and programs for special events, birthday parties, camps trips and school field trips call (516) 764–0045 or email helpdesk@cstl.org

This attraction is so close to downtown Rockville Centre and its 100 restaurants so consider a visit to Main St. before or after your trip.  Special thanks to Bill Corbett for the invitation to join this special opening!

NYS Announces LIRR Station and Releases Final Report for Belmont Arena

The Empire State Development Corporation has released the final Environmental Impact Statement for the Belmont Arena.

The report states that when completed the site will include a 19,000-seat arena, over 7,000 parking spaces, a 250-room hotel, a movie theater, a community center, commercial office space, and 350,000 square feet of retail space.  There are also plans to renovate long-suffering local roads and to create a new LIRR station that will connect to the Main Branch.

The LIRR station is part of the biggest concerns from a previous draft report of the massive traffic impact on the local community.  It is hoped that a full time station on the main line could assist in mitigating the impact on this area. 

There are also concerns on where exactly funding for the new station will be coming from.  It was originally announced that private developers would cover 92% of the cost of the station.  But now it seems that the state will front a large portion of the $105 million bill based off the economic impact statement for the project.  According to that document $74 million will be covered by New York State.

These numbers are based off of an accounting trick where the state will initially cover the $74 million but the recoup $67 million through annual payments for the next 30 years.  Though this is essentially an interest-free loan, it is expected that NYS will still come out ahead after payment of a $50 million lease agreement.

There are still questions concerning how the state will pay for potential overrun costs for the station.  There are also questions surrounding the number of people the shuttles will be able to carry, what the most cost-effective transportation method could be, tax abatements for the developers as well as discounts, and other such things.

The community has been skeptical of this project since announced, and is looking for increased communication.  While the confirmation of a full-time train station would be a boon for transportation in the area, the numbers will require a closer look.

The public comment period for the arena project is currently underway and has been extended by 9 days until August 1st.  This is the result of “two minor clerical errors” in the environmental report.

You can read more at the Herald here and the Gothamist here.

New Café Opens at Mixed-Use Northridge Development

A new café has opened at the mixed-use building in Huntington Station known as the Northridge Development.

Owned by May Ramos of May’s Gourmet Deli located on West Jericho, the café will operate from 5 am to 9 pm seven days a week.  The new café will serve sandwishes, wraps, bagels, salads, fruit, pastries, and drinks such as iced coffee and juices.

Ramos got her start in the deli business when she was going to college as a mother of two.  It allowed her to have a flexible schedule while studying and she was able to turn it inot a successful career.

The building has 16 occupied apartments on the upper floors, and also has an arm of Liberty Tax elsewhere in the building.  Huntington Station master developer Renaissance Downtowns is also looking to move into another section of the building as well.

You can read more here.

DOS Releases RFA for Community Training Programs

The Department of State (DOS) has issued a Request for Applications (RFA) under the NY Community Greenworks initiative for not-for-profit community-based organizations engaged in community redevelopment, workforce development, and/or community revitalization. 

NY Community Greenworks will train several community organizations in effective community engagement, green-tech jobs, project development, green building/infrastructure, community revitalization and government funding strategies, ultimately resulting in a signature revitalization project in each community. 

This train-the-trainer approach provides mentoring and technical assistance among peers who are facing very similar challenges and circumstances—such as blight, vacancy, disinvestment, and disproportionate environmental degradation.   

DOS has contracted with PUSH Buffalo (People United for Sustainable Housing) to provide training for up to six community-based organizations (“Green Leaders”) that are interested in learning, adapting and applying PUSH’s innovative approach to community engagement and community development in their own communities. 

More specifically, Green Leaders will learn how to redevelop disadvantaged neighborhoods and transform them into energy-efficient, sustainable, equitable communities, with improved living conditions and a pathway for community members to secure employment in the green technology sector.  The training will produce a plan for a signature revitalization project in each community.

The RFA is available at the DOS website here and the State Contract Reporter here.

NYS DEC Providing Funding for Environmental Justice Grants

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ) will provide state assistance funding through the Environmental Justice Community Impact Grant program to community-based organizations for projects that address exposure of communities to multiple environmental harms and risks (“projects”).

Approximately $4,375,929 is available. Applicants may be awarded up to $100,000 each until funding has been exhausted.

All projects must have defined objectives, tasks, and deliverables accounted for in performance measures that can be completed and invoiced within a 36-month contract period/term. Applicants should not begin their projects or incur costs until a Master Contract for Grants (MCG) has been fully approved by DEC, and if applicable approved by the Attorney General and the State Comptroller.  Applicants should not submit an application if they do not anticipate their project can be completed within the specified contract term.

Applicants may submit up to three applications, however, only one application per applicant may be funded. Multiple applications may not be for the same project or projection location.

Projects must serve an EJ community, as defined in DEC Commissioner Policy 29, Environmental Justice and Permitting (available on DEC’s website at: http://www.dec.ny.gov/public/36929.html).

To apply for this opportunity and for more information surrounding this grant, please go here.

Long Island Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Moon Landing

Events across Long Island were held to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing. Thousands of Long Islanders were in attendance at the ceremony held by the Cradle of Aviation Museum.The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum alsoheld a ceremony to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the moon landing drawing vistors from across the island.

As part of the ceremony, the museum lowered a third-scale replica onto a fake moon at the exact time when the original lunar module landed 50 years ago.  The museum also hosts one of the few lunar modules still in existence.

Tens of thousands of Bethpage-based Grumman workers were involved in building the Lunar Module, making the anniversary a strong source of local pride.

You can read more here.

Smart Talk

Contributors:
Eric Alexander, Director; Tawaun Weber, Assistant Director; 
Christopher Kyle, Communications 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 info@visionlongisland.org for consideration.

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