Smart Talk June 1st – 28th, 2019

Check out this week’s extra large edition of Smart Talk where we cheer passage of the Kings Park Property Alienation Legislation, look in on the Complete Streets Project underway in Hicksville, join PinkTie at their 7th Annual Charity Event, and more…

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June 1st – 28th, 2019


Albanese & Albanese

Albanese & Albanese LLP is one of the region’s preeminent full-service firms, providing its clients with specialized and diverse legal services. Their reputation for excellence derives from their commitment to deliver high quality legal services and individual attention while maintaining efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

“Equal opportunity should be a moral absolute.  We have the resources, we just need the will.  When you receive your hands are full, but when you give your heart is full.” – George Tsunis, Chartwell Hotels

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Kings Park Sewers Advance, Legislation for Property Alienation Passes in Albany

Kings Park revitalization saw a big win in the month of June with the approval for a bill in Albany that will lead the way for a new downtown sewers.

The Kings Park Civic Association’s Linda Ann Henninger, Kings Park Chamber of Commerce’s Tony Tanzi and Vision’s Director Eric Alexander were up in Albany during May to push for passage of the bill.  This issue has also been on the agenda of the 100-organization LI Lobby Coalition for multiple years.

Town of Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone both pushed hard for the passage of the bill as well.  As part of the effort, they sent letters of support to Albany lawmakers and made their stances on revitalization clear.

The Kings Park community has held multiple visioning sessions in recent years and sewering the downtown area was one of the primary goals for residents.  As a result of these efforts, the NYS budget included $20 million in infrastructure funding for the sewers and this legislation was needed to transfer a small amount of land to make it happen.

“It’s a good day for Kings Park,” said Ms. Henninger.  “The passage of this bill in the Assembly brings our town that much closer to a vibrant and revitalized downtown.”

Vision also applauds NYS Senator John Flanagan, Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick, and their respective colleagues for passing this important legislation.  This was a collective effort that will result in real positive change for Kings Park’s Main Street.

It’s good for the region, good for the Island and, since we reside above our potable water supply, sewering is essential in making sure we have quality of life going into the future,” Fitzpatrick said.

You can read more here.

Downtown Hicksville Complete Streets Project Underway

Vision Board and staff were out in support of the Complete Streets project for Downtown Hicksville focused on a traffic study and pedestrian improvements for the train station area.  There was a great turn out even with short notice, and a very thoughtful deliberative dialogue with local residents and business owners.

The project is grant funded and being planned by Nassau DPW.  The goal is to improve the streetscape in the downtown area and to create a safer commute for pedestrians.  Conditions as they stand now makes safe spots inconvenient for commuters in relation to available parking, causing most commuters to simply cross at unsafe spots.

Thank you for all the hard work of sponsors Nassau County Legislators Rose Walker, Laura Schaefer, and Arnie Drucker​​, who all were there for this first public meeting.  Special thanks to members of the Hicksville Downtown Revitalization Committee, Hicksville School Board, Hicksville Chamber of Commerce, Hicksville Gardens Civic Association, Duffy Park Civic Association, Northwest Civic Association, Hicksville Fire Department, Hicksville Community Council and the Town of Oyster Bay who all participated in the meeting. Lastly project team members NV5, LK McLean and Nassau DPW staff Sean Sallie and Aryeh Lemberger ably answered questions throughout the night.

You can see FiOS1’s coverage of the meeting here.

Revitalization Hot Topic at Hicksville Chamber’s Street Fair

Vision Board and staff were out in June with our friends in the Hicksville Downtown Revitalization Committee for the Hicksville Chamber of Commerce Street Fair.

Vision enjoyed connecting with over 150 local residents and business owners stopping by our booth to hear their thoughts on Hicksville’s downtown.  It was also great to see government officials stop in including NYS Assemblyman Michael Montesano as well as Nassau Legislators Rose Walker and Laura Schaefer.  Also great to have a cameo appearance from our good friend Frankie Camarano​​ from the East Meadow Chamber and the Nassau Council of Chambers!

Special thanks to Revitalization Committee members, Hicksville School Board President Phil Heckler, Duffy Park Civic’s Paul Molinari, Vision’s Elissa Kyle, residents Paul Munoz and Diane Hoeberlein, and Hicksville Chambers Lionel Chitty for helping us at booth.

Hempstead Councilwoman Chairs Blue Ribbon Commission on Town’s Zoning Code

Councilwoman King-Sweeney’s Blue Ribbon Commission recently held its first-ever meeting in a process meant to review the Town of Hempstead’s zoning code for the first time in 50 years.  Vision is a member of the commission and was present at the most recent meeting as well.

We were happy to see a diverse range of civics and chambers at the table from local communities as well as true regional leaders like John Cameron from the LI Regional Planning Council, Julie Marchesella from the Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce, Adrienne Esposito from CCE along with the relevant departments of the Town. Supervisor Laura Gillen is also participating along with Councilman Dennis Dunne.  
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran attended the first meeting and shared her support too.
The move to create this commission is a good first step toward finding zoning that works for the local community.  We look forward to hearing input on possible changes that can benefit local communities.

Stay tuned for updates…

Baldwin’s Grand Ave Focus of Hempstead Town Hall

Vision Long Island joined the local community in Baldwin Park recently for a meeting on the Grand Ave Overlay District and other issues.

Town of Hempstead Councilwoman Erin King-Sweeney hosted the meeting complete with about a dozen Town department heads and senior staff to answer local questions.  Great to see again a full house and the hyper-local focus the Town is taking to Baldwin revitalization.  Baldwin is an area that has been working to revitalize the local community. 

Riverhead Downtown Revitalization Committee Recommends “Pattern Book” Design

Great to see Riverhead’s Downtown Revitalization Advisory Committee recommend “pattern books” as a form of design guidelines for their Main Street business district. They have had a fair amount of building underway and design is critical. Check out the story in the Riverhead News Review.

In a move that comes at a critical time for design guidelines in Riverhead, the Downtown Revitalization Committee has recommended a “pattern book” style of design guidelines for the Main Street business district.  This style of design is aimed at creating a vision for the community and new standards of development that are clearly articulated and understood.  It will also help to speed up the development process for new projects.

The Committee has also recommended the Town Board enter into eminent domain proceedings for owners of blighted properties who have not maintained their properties.  This is the result of a compliance agreement that blighted property owners entered into after passage of new town code requiring it.

Both of these recommendations as well as one to create a unified marketing plan for the downtown are currently being considered by the Town Board.  The Board is also looking to meet with Historical Concepts, the company that created a similar “pattern book” for the Town of Southampton.

The Revitalization Committee is a volunteer group comprised of 20 members.  The co-chairs are South Jamesport resident Jim Farley, who is also a member of the Riverhead IDA, and Wading River resident Janice Scherer, a professional planner for the Town of Southampton.

You can read more here.

PinkTie Hosts 7th Annual Charity Event

Vision Board and staff were out in support of the 7th Annual Pink Tie event at the Carltun. Happy to sponsor LI’s biggest party for local charities.

Great to see our friends from 1st Equity Title and Trinity Solar and many others who pulled this together.  Each year PinkTie reaches out to and works with local communities to help bring prosperity directly to those who need it most on Long Island.  They do that by placing the responsibility in the hands of local residents and activists who know best what is needed for their particular corner of the island.

More corporate philanthropy is needed on LI to get dollars to local organizations, and the Pink Tie effort truly stands out addressing this need. For more information or to join PinkTie, click here.

Suffolk Legislator Fleming Moves to Protect Bus Funding

As a result of some of the good news that came out of NYS’s budget, Suffolk County is taking steps to protect increased bus funding.

As part of legislation, and a longtime priority for the LI Lobby Coalition and others, NYS offered a $7 million increase in operating assistance for bus service on Long Island.  By formula this amounts to $5 million for Nassau and $2 million for Suffolk.

In anticipation of these revenues, Suffolk Legislator Bridget Fleming passed legislation with her colleagues to keep existing bus funding from being transferred out to other departments.  This practice had occured for many years..  

Congratulations to the Suffolk legislature for their foresight on this, but most importantly we are happy to see some additional funds go to a service that meets the transportation needs of working people, students, seniors and others who do not have cars.

You can read the full text of the legislation here.

Nassau County Adding Trips and Buses to Elmont and Valley Stream Routes

The Nassau Inter-County Express (NICE) has expanded with three new trips and five new buses for the on-demand Flexi route located in Elmont and Valley Stream.

The new trips went into effect two weeks ago and expand service with two new busses beginning at 5 in the morning.  This will allow Flexi passengers a better chance to grab a bus at a more convenient time and connect with the N6, which is NICE’s busiest route.

The system allows for customers to request service at least two services in advance at 1 of 8 stops between Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream and the Hempstead Turnpike in Elmont.  The extra trips and new buses will allow for quicker pickup times and more convenience for local riders.

“We have heard our bus riders and are delivering for them,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said about the new service.  “It’s vital we accommodate our riders’ commuting needs and encourage growth in ridership.”

The Flexi route is a combination of the old N2 and N8 buses, which were eliminated some years ago before being resurrected in 2016.  The line has increased in popularity over time and now sees approximately 2,000 riders per week.

“This bus helps people get to work,” said Legislator Carrié Solages.  “It helps people get to school. This is what the community has been asking for.”

NICE has also purchased new, larger buses In order to fit more passengers.  The new Ford E350 buses can accommodate 30 passengers over the previous 20 for current models.

You can read more here.

Vision Joins NYREJ for LI State of the Market 2019

Vision Board and staff were out at the NYREJ Long Island State of the Market 2019 this past month.

Vision Director Eric Alexander was happy to moderate a panel on Trends of Long Island Region: Industrial, Multifamily, Retail.  Panelists included Kenneth Schuckman, Schuckman Realty Inc.; Michael Sahn, Sahn Ward Coschignano, PLLC; and Chris Capece, AvalonBay Communities.

The theme of the day was change and transformation, particularly in the retail space.  Strong demand for mixed use, downtowns and multifamily housing was also brought up throughout the day.

Prevailing Wage Stalls at State Legislature

The proposed Prevailing Wage bill came close to passing, but ultimately stalled in the Assembly and State Senate.

A new bill, as proposed, would impact surrounding regions with exemptions on certain developments along with affordable housing and solar projects.  NYC will be exempt from the legislation, much to the joy of NYC builders.

The Vision board held a work-session with TOD developers and local labor leaders for input on the proposed law. Based on the feedback from that meeting.  Our position has been the following:

  • Vision supports fair, livable wages that help working men and women prosper on Long Island.
  • Labor costs need to be balanced with the increasing expense of green and affordable housing regulations. None of these cost-drivers are what we typically hear local communities want as public benefits.
  • Local input tells us they often seek resources for ball fields, parks, better architecture, transportation improvements, sewer infrastructure, off-site improvements for community amenities such as theatres, community centers and other services.
  • They often want projects scaled back as well.
  • Listening to what the local communities want from development is instructive and needs to be prioritized because without their support – nothing gets built.
  • Public benefits are not just about labor and must be factored into the cost of construction along with everything else.

So for the proposed legislation, Vision Long Island feels like it would be appropriate for:

1) An economic impact assessment be conducted on the law’s influence on the 10,000 units of downtown, transit oriented development and affordable housing projects that are proposed and not yet approved.

2) Carve outs or exemptions from the proposed legislation be granted to: Projects with an affordable housing component of over 25%; Downtown or TOD projects under 100 units of housing; Downtown projects with a significant renewable or energy efficiency component.

This position, of course, put us at odds with the extreme old guard in the development world, and the more strident members of the labor community.

You can read more on the bill and NYC’s exemption here.

Comptroller DiNapoli Releases Report on Housing Affordability

NYS Comptroller Tom Dinapoli has released a report on Housing Affordability in the state that is not shocking, but persistently awful.  Of course Long Island was high on the list: Suffolk County ranked 4th in one of the measures and Nassau 9th. Obviously we need to do more to create housing opportunities for folks of all ages. 

The Comptrollers’ opening message talked about the ongoing difficulty New Yorkers face to make ends meet in spite of a decade of economic growth.  A big part of what’s holding back these residents is the increased cost of housing.

As of 2017, nearly 2.8 million New York households faced housing costs that were 30 percent or more of their income, meaning they were above a commonly accepted benchmark for housing affordability. Almost half of all renters and more than one in four homeowners were in this category, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

Based on criteria used by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, more than 1.3 million households – including more than one of every four renters – were “severely burdened” by housing costs of half or more of their income.

That is just a small part of what we’re facing in this state.  You can read the full report here.

Small Business Training Session Helps Food and Beverage Startups

Vision was out earlier this week at We Work NYC with our friend Andrew Calimano.  The event was located​​ at the Brewing the American Dream Training session sponsored by Sam Adams and non-profit lender Accion.

Very encouraging to see small businesses in the food and craft beer world learn about planning, financing and marketing. We were also happy to help coach for folks interested in coming to or reaching out to Long Island

For more information on the work of Accion in supporting small businesses, click here.

LI Business News Hosts Annual Corporate Citizenship Awards

Vision Board and staff were out in early June with over 300 business leaders at the LI Business News Corporate Citizenship Awards.

Honorees that support Smart Growth and downtown revitalization on LI included Vision Board member Brandon Ray from AT&T, H2M Architects + Engineers, PSEG Long Island, NICE Bus, Empower Solar, Town of Brookhaven IDA, and Chartwell Hotels.  Not enough corporations on LI give back to local communities, but it was good to see most of the honorees today truly do. 

In his address George Tsunis, from Chartwell Hotels, offered the following that hit on the values of the day:  “Equal opportunity should be a moral absolute.  We have the resources, we just need the will.  When you receive your hands are full, but when you give your heart is full.”

Congrats to Joseph Giametta and his team from LIBN for assembling a great group of honorees.

LIHP Hosts 31st Anniversary Luncheon

Vision Board and staff were out in support of LI Housing Partnership’s 31st Anniversary luncheon this past week.

It was great to see the important work of the partnership in many communities and hear the NYS Attorney General Letitia James commit resources to Zombie Homes.  Nassau County Executive Laura Curran was also in attendance and encouraged the audience to get involved with their local civics and chambers.

For more information on the great work of the LIHP, click here.

Take Action: Help Stop Moratorium on New Heating and Gas Services

As a result of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) recent decision to deny “without prejudice” a water permit for Williams’ Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) project, National Grid has stopped processing all applications for new or expanded gas service in Brooklyn, Queens and on Long Island.

National Grid will continue to receive applications for new and expanded firm natural gas service from residential, commercial and industrial customers, but none will be processed until the permits are received and the project is allowed to proceed.

This project is important because it creates needed infrastructure for planned downtown projects and new small businesses in local communities.  Without the ability to adequately heat projects, development would slow to an unacceptable rate and progress will stall in many of our downtowns. Vision Long Island board has written letters and provided testimony in support of this progect.

The opportunity is available to write a letter in support of this project.  Head to the Take Action page here to send your message of support.

NYMTC Now Accepting Feedback on Draft Transportation Improvement Program

NYMTC has prepared a draft Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) for federal fiscal years (FFYs) 2020-2024 and a related draft Transportation Conformity Determination under the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. A thirty-day public comment period for the draft TIP and Conformity Determination will begin on Monday, June 24, 2019 and end at 4 pm Tuesday, July 23, 2019.

The draft FFYs 2020-2424 TIP lists the federally-funded transportation improvement projects proposed for the NYMTC planning area over the TIP period. These improvements cover various transportation modes and facilities, including roadways and bridges, bicycle and pedestrian facilities, transit equipment and services, safety improvements and demand management programs.

The draft Transportation Conformity Determination includes a regional emissions analysis for mobile sources as required by the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. A Conformity Determination must accompany the new TIP to demonstrate how forecasted mobile source emissions levels conform to emissions milestones established by the New York State Implementation Plan for Air Quality.

The draft documents, along with background information on development process for each and links to maps showing the locations of projects for the proposed TIP, will be available for viewing and download at https:\\ at the start of the comment period. To request a hard copy of the draft TIP and/or Conformity Determination, send an email or call 212.383.7200.

During the comment period a Public Review Meetings will be held at 3PM and 6:30PM on Long Island at the Perry B. Duryea State Office Building, located at 250 Veterans Memorial Highway in Hauppauge.  Yhe meeting’s purpose will be to gather public commentary. Remote participation for each meeting will also be possible through webinars (see links below).  You can register for the webinar here and RSVP for in-person attendance at a meeting for 3PM here and 6:30PM here.

Comments may be made in-person at a meeting or via the webinar which accompanies the meeting. Written comments can be submitted at any time during the comment period by mail, fax and e-mail to: 

New York Metropolitan Transportation Council
Attn: TIP/Conformity Public Comment Period
25 Beaver Street, Suite 201
New York, NY 10004
Fax:  212-383-7244

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:

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

Round IX open for Regional Economic Development Council Competition

Announcing funding for Round IX of the Regional Economic Development Council initiative, officially kicking off the 2019 competition for more than $750 million in state economic development resources. The Consolidated Funding Application is now open, enabling businesses, municipalities, not-for-profits and the public to begin applying for assistance from dozens of state programs, through a single application, for job-creation and community development projects.

The Regional Councils will compete in 2019 for up to $150 million in capital funds and $75 million in Excelsior Tax Credits for projects identified by the Regional Councils as priorities in their regions. All ten regions will be competing this year for designation as a Top Performer. Five top performing regions will be awarded a share of $100 million in ESD Capital grants. The remaining five regions will be awarded a share of $50 million in ESD Capital grants. Each region will also be awarded a share of $75 million in Excelsior Tax Credits to help attract and grow business in the region.

In addition, each region will once again receive $10 million to implement projects identified through the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, and projects from all 10 regions submitted through the CFA will be eligible for over $525 million in other state agency funds.

The 2019 REDC Guidebook and list of available resources will be accessible at deadline for applications is Friday, July 26 at 4 p.m. For applicants, the CFA is available at

#MadeToMove Grant Program Underway

The #MadeToMove Grant Program from Unilever’s Degree Deodorant and Blue Zones – a competitive funding opportunity to assist communities in advancing active transportation through local project development, implementation and supporting policies – is officially underway!

Communities throughout the United States now realize that growing a program in active transportation is an essential way to help all citizens live fuller, healthier, longer lives. The program is a competitive funding opportunity created to assist communities in advancing active transportation through local project development, implementation and supporting policies. With the ultimate goal of promoting more walkable, bikeable, transit-friendly environments for all ages, incomes and abilities, this funding opportunity will be awarded to five mid-sized communities in the United States. Each community will receive $100,000 plus technical assistance from the Blue Zones, LLC, built environment team.

The link to apply can be found here:

Vision Joins Port Jeff’s “Coffee Talk”

Vision was happy to be on Kevin Wood’s show “Coffee Talk” discussing the status of Port Jefferson’s Comprehensive Plan, downtown and uptown area.

There is definitely work underway in the Village combining planning, approval of TOD projects and bringing in public grant dollars as well. As is customary continued communication with local small business is needed in order to keep the support of the local community on board with any change.

You can check out the interview here.

Smart Talk

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

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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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