Smart Talk June 29th – July 3rd, 2019

Check out this week’s special early edition of Smart Talk where we look in on another tragedy involving a teenage cyclist on Hempstead Turnpike, review plans for an expanded hotel in downtown Huntington, check out key advancements in the NYS legislative session, and more…

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June 29th – July 3rd, 2019


Cameron Engineering

Cameron Engineering & Associates, LLP is a full service multi-disciplined consulting engineering and planning firm founded in 1985. The Firm is comprised of experienced and qualified engineers, landscape architects, planners, facility operators, and environmental scientists dedicated to providing professional, timely and responsive services to our clients.

A comprehensive knowledge of municipal codes, government regulations, and industry standards is incorporated into all of their work. This assures that they provide quality engineering and up-to-date solutions. The principals and senior level management are continuously involved in the planning, control, implementation, and quality review of each project. Their timely submissions and quality engineering are the primary reasons for their clients to request their services on a repeat basis.

“New York State again leads the charge in protecting public health and the environment. This nation-wide precedent setting legislation will drive the industry to remove this hidden carcinogen that lurks in our everyday products.  The days of allowing industry to poison our drinking water and endanger public health with 1,4 dioxane are coming to an end. Nowhere is this more important than with Long Island’s drinking water, which has the highest rates of 1,4-dioxane detection in the nation.  We commend Senator Kaminsky and Assemblyman Englebright for their leadership and for standing up for clean drinking water for all New Yorkers.” – Adrienne Esposito, Citizen’s Campaign for the Environment

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Levittown Teen Fatally Struck on Hempstead Turnpike

There was horrific news earlier this week where a 13 year old was struck and killed on Hempstead Turnpike in Levittown.

Andrew Alati was riding his bike on Hempstead Turnpike when he was struck Sunday evening by a 19-year-old driver.  The driver stopped and called 911, but Andrew passed away from his injuries.  The driver is not facing charges.

With 256 pedestrian and bicycle crashes on Hempstead Turnpike over a three year period, it is one of the most dangerous roadways in NYS.  Hempstead Turnpike is essentially Levittown’s Main Street and the road needs to be safe not just for cars, but folks on foot, biking and taking the bus.   Safety improvements have been made to stretches of the road, but more can and should be done.

It was heartening to see 40 young people take to their bikes in honor of their classmate.  Nassau County Police accompanied the group to ensure safety.

You can see more here.

Huntington Considers Expanded Downtown Hotel

Vision was out last week in support of an expanded hotel in downtown Huntington, located at the site of the historic Town Hall.

The proposal calls for 80 rooms as opposed to the 55 in the plan that was approved years prior.  The plans will preserve the original Town Hall building as the lobby, lounge, and meeting rooms for the new hotel.  The new wing being proposed in the plans will serve as the guest wing for the hotel.  Expansion of the overlay district is needed in order to allow for use of the original building for purposes other than those permitted as-of-right in the zoning district it’s currently in.

The original plans for the hotel were approved when they were submitted in 2013.  However, the developer did not obtain a valid building permit for the project before a five-year deadline expired.  The developers are now in talks with Huntington Village Hotel Partners to purchase the site, who is the company that submitted the new, expanded plans for the hotel. 

Vision testified for the earlier project as we feel a hotel will compliment many existing uses. The hearing went well with more supporters than opponents, and we are hopeful that this project will now get built.

You can read more here.

Kings Park Psychiatric Center to be made into Public Parkland

A new piece of legislation seeks to turn the long-abandoned site of the Kings Park Psychiatric Center into public parkland.

The parcel of land will now be incorporated into the neighboring Nissequogue River State Park.  This plan has roots going all the way back to 2006 when NYS Senator Flanagan led an effort to transfer the remaining 365 acres of land to the control of the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.  The new legislation annexing the land into Nissequogue was sponsored by Senator Flanagan as well as Assemblyman Steve Englebright.

“I am thrilled this legislation has passed both houses of the legislature so that this important property is protected for future generations,” said Senator Flanagan.

Once the legislation is signed, park officials will be directed to begin to develop a master plan for the entire 520 acres of the expanded park.  This process will also require coordination with the Nissequogue River State Park and other stakeholders, as well as public input.  There will also be consideration of a number of preferred alternatives for the future development.

You can read more here.

North Hempstead Communities Talk Downtown Revitalization

Vision was out at a forum last week on downtown revitalization organized by Blank Slate Media and taking place at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Shelter Rock.

The event featured a great panel including Farmingdale Mayor Ralph Ekstrand, Mineola Mayor Scott Strauss, North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth, Nassau Presiding Officer Rich Nicolello, Nassau County Planning’s Sean Sallie, and many others.  Great also to see our good friends Elaine Peters from the congregation kick things off.

We covered a range of issues, including the importance of local zoning vs a regional or top-down approach, building consensus on the community level, expediting the approval process for small businesses, traffic calming and pedestrian safety, and the importance of downtown housing, among others.

The 100 person crowd had a range of questions that were largely specific to the North Hempstead area Main Street business districts.  We were happy to see Jeffrey Greenfield from the Nassau County Planning Commission, Ralph Kreitzman from the Nassau County Village Officials Association, and Dennis Grossman from the Great Neck Chamber at the event along with many others.

It was quite a productive exchange of ideas and professionally put together program, and we were happy to be invited.

You can read more here.

Hempstead Village Updates Residents on BOA Program

Vision Board and staff were out this week in the Village of Hempstead hearing an update on the plan drafted by the NYS BOA program.

We were happy to see that what was drafted includes proposed and approved revitalization projects so there is no need to re-plan.  Issues raised at the meeting included local jobs, the need for family entertainment options, additional restaurants, hotels, gathering spaces, infrastructure upgrades, housing choices, public safety and the impact of IDA approved PILOTS among other issues.

It was great to see our friends Barbara Borum, George Siberón, Shelley Brazley and Sharon Mullen in the audience. Also very happy to hear some unity among varying approaches to revitalization.

Clean Water, Affordable Housing & Aid for Small Business Advance at end of NYS Legislative Session

There has been movement on a number of the Long Island Lobby Coalition’s in Albany these past few weeks

One of the newly passed pieces of legislation is a historic ban of the carcinogenic chemical 1,4-dioxane from common household products.  The chemical has been on the rise in Long Island drinking water as water laced with it is absorbed into the ground.  It is widespread in a number of common household products such as soaps, shampoos, body wash, baby products, and laundry detergents.  Manufacturers will now be required to filter those products until only a residual amount remains.  It will now head to Governor Cuomo’s desk for his signature.

“New York State again leads the charge in protecting public health and the environment. This nation-wide precedent setting legislation will drive the industry to remove this hidden carcinogen that lurks in our everyday products.  The days of allowing industry to poison our drinking water and endanger public health with 1,4 dioxane are coming to an end,” said Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director for Citizens Campaign for the Environment.  “Nowhere is this more important than with Long Island’s drinking water, which has the highest rates of 1,4-dioxane detection in the nation.  We commend Senator Kaminsky and Assemblyman Englebright for their leadership and for standing up for clean drinking water for all New Yorkers.”  

The legislature also passed the first step in creation of a dedicated funding stream for affordable housing.  The legislation will use a 0.5 percent real estate tax to raise money that will be used to preserve open space and water quality improvement projects.  The new tax will be paid by property buyers.  Towns will then have the choice of whether or not to opt into the program.

Money generated by the new legislation could be used to generate financial assistance for first-time home buyers, production of community housing for either sale or rent, financial assistance for public/private partnerships that include employee housing, and rehabilitee of existing structures to be used for community housing.  The legislation currently awaits the Governor’s signature.

Finally, the NYS Senate has once again passed legislation that will allow for small businesses to create tax-deferred savings accounts that can be tapped during times of economic downturn.  This bill has been passed on the Senate side multiple times but has never made it through the Assembly.  Vision urges the Assembly to pass this important bill to help bring some stability to small business.

LI Clean Energy Task Force Talks Future of Energy Supply

Vision Board and staff were out this past Friday at the Long Island Clean Energy Task Force at the Sustainability Institute at Molloy.

The event featured a thorough presentation from LIPA CEO Tom Falcone as well as updates from Sarah Oral on Climate Smart Communities and Rosemary Mascali on sustainable Transportation, among other topics. Vision Long Island also provided a quick report on Smart Growth and Complete Streets efforts.

We also jump started the conversation on how to provide cooking and heating fuel to new small businesses, downtown apartments and planned affordable units that are caught in a moratorium on approval for new applications.  The moratorium is tied to the denial of the NESE natural gas pipeline, which is preventing a needed increase in capacity.

Some energy activists believe that biogas, geothermal and electric heat pumps will address these challenges, and we are hearing that propane and oil heat are expanding now.  We will bring you more information on these issues in the future, and will be attempting to sort out this information.

A hearty thank you to Sustainability Institute Director Neal Lewis for hosting a productive and collaborative meeting as always!

Process Matters

So much airtime in public life is given to the extremes on either end of the spectrum – in the case of local land use – those who want to build projects by any means necessary and those who oppose them at all costs. The vast majority of folks are in between and usually base their decision on the quality of development, the scale of the project and its impacts. Most importantly they want to know these new neighbors and ultimately weigh the change on their quality of life.

In any relationship if you try to decide something without working with your partner you have a very low chance of success. It’s called process and it can be painful, long and at times costly, but without it you lose a reasonable chance of achieving your set goal.

While that seems so simple at times the process of working with folks has gone awry. Amazon in Long Island City was the best example and recent apartments proposed in East Farmingdale, Huntington and New Hyde Park all have had opposition out of the gate because little to no effort was made to connect with the local community.

We can exhume the corpse of these or other projects through the years and understand what set them off course: An overemphasis on regionalism vs. local needs; top down messaging vs. developing real relationships; dismissiveness and arrogance when facing community criticism; poorly conducted meetings or even no meetings. Calling folks names like NIMBY or worse never helps.

One or more of the above can result in residents saying things that are hurtful, slanderous and untruthful and all this conflict swirls around social media outlets to the delight of unaccountable attention seekers and others who never want a problem solved.

Thankfully we can and are changing course…

Like in that “Seinfeld” episode where George Costanza did the exact opposite of what he normally did and ended up with a gorgeous girlfriend and a great job we oftentimes need to do the opposite of our instincts in the local planning process.

Some of the steps that help include: getting to know your neighbors; explaining the benefits of a project; if there aren’t direct benefits in your project listen to what communities needs are and enlist yourself and others in helping get them solved. Also be careful who represents you – work with consultants who have a track record and aptitude in connecting with people.

This year’s Long Island Smart Growth Awards winners exemplify these changes underway and needed. We have honored projects, organizations and policies advancing affordable housing, mixed-use development, infrastructure investment in our rail and sewer systems, corporate philanthropy for main streets, educators guiding young people to work in their community, village officials that provide mutual support for their downtowns, developers that work with residents and a reporter focused on real news.

There is a long track record from the smart growth movement working with the public over 20 years on master plans, visionings, hamlet plans and corridor studies. These efforts resulted in 87 of 102 hearings for downtown or mixed-use development in the last seven years being approved with more local supporters than opponents.

We know investing in public process works as TOD and downtown projects have risen up from a place with nascent support 20 years ago to majority support in 40 of Long Island’s 100 business districts.

That didn’t happen because the elite had a big idea and ruled by fiat. It happened because community leaders themselves got active, informed and worked with developers, their municipal officials and local businesses on revitalization efforts.

Let’s keep working together and continue to achieve real results for our local communities. Most importantly, let’s support the local people who are investing in the process of change.

This op-ed originally appeared in Long Island Business News 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

Happy 4th of July!

Vision Long Island would like to wish you a happy 4th of July this holiday weekend!  Think about maybe taking some time to enjoy the festivities in your local downtown.  Perhaps head to a local park for an outdoor barbeque or look for a fireworks display taking place close at hand.  To help, here’s a list of displays taking place across the island:

Long Island Ducks’ Fireworks Spectacular
Bethpage Ballpark, Central Islip. End of games on July 4th & 6th

TD Bank “Celebrate America” Fireworks and Show
Eisenhower Park, Uniondale. 9:30 p.m. June 29

Alive on 25 Fireworks Show
Grangebel Park, Riverhead. 9 p.m. July 3

Connetquot River Fireworks
Connetquot River, Oakdale. 9:15 p.m. July 3

Annual Port Jefferson 4th of July Parade
Main Street, Port Jefferson. Free. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. July 4

Parade of American Flags
Heritage Park, Mount Sanai. 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. July 4

Stars Over Montauk
Umbrella Beach, Montauk. 8-9:30p.m. July 4

Glen Cove’s Annual Fourth of July Celebration
Morgan Memorial Park, Glen Cove. 9 p.m. July 4

East Hills Fourth of July Fireworks Show
Great Lawn, East Hills. 9 p.m. July 4

Village of Asharoken’s Fireworks Display

Long Island Sound near Asharoken. 9:20 p.m. July 4

Independence Day Celebration at Bald Hill
Bald Hill, Farmingville. 9:30 p.m. July 4

Fireworks at Jones Beach
Jones Beach, Ocean Parkway, Wantagh. $10 parking. 9:30 p.m. July 4

Long Beach Fireworks Extravaganza
Long Beach Blvd. and Riverside Blvd. 7 p.m. July 5.

John A. Ward Independence Day Fireworks
Sag Harbor Yacht Club, 27 Bay St. Free. 9:30 p.m. July 6

Town of Oyster Bay’s Salute to America
John J. Burns Park, Massapequa. 9:45 p.m. July 9

Fireworks Night at Mineola Amphitheater
Mineola Memorial Park. 7-9 p.m. July 12

Shelter Island Fireworks
Shore Road, Shelter Island Heights. 9:30 p.m. July 13

Islip Arts Council- Annual Concert in the Park
Heckscher State Park, East Islip. 10 p.m. July 13

Clam Shell Foundation Annual Great Bonac Fireworks by Grucci
Mile Harbor, East Hampton. 9:30 p.m. July 13

Smart Talk

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 for consideration.

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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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