Smart Talk October 12th – 18th, 2019

Check out this week’s Smart Talk where we review the Meet the Candidates forum at the most recent meeting of the LI Main Street alliance, testify on the proposed C6 zoning changes for Huntington, and more…

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October 12th – 18th, 2019


L&L Painting Company

For over 70 years, L & L Painting Company, Inc. has been able to provide top-quality finishing surface projects on schedule and at very reasonable prices. L & L Painting Company, Inc. takes pride in the ability to provide reliable and affordable services to every single customer and client without sacrificing high quality workmanship.

Currently, they have over 400 full-time employees working on approximately $100 million dollars worth of bonded projects in the New York Tri-State area.  Their project résumé and clientèle lists speak for themselves.  From business offices and apartment buildings to hospitals and universities; from five star hotels to the country’s most capacious bridges, L & L’s knowledge of coatings and foresight on new technological advances has placed them in the vanguard of the painting industry.  They are the largest painting contractor in the New York metropolitan area.

L & L Painting Company, Inc. is a fully trained, qualified lead abatement contractor.  They have abated and painted most of the bridges in New York City’s infrastructure, including the George Washington Bridge, Queensborough Bridge, Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, Williamsburge Bridge, Tappan Zee Bridge, Outerbridge Crossing, Henry Hudson Bridge, Marine Parkway Bridge, Roosevelt Island Bridge, as well as the FDR Viaduct.

“We now have housing where you can go into the city or get to another downtown if you want to and take public transportation.  That’s only possible, that’s only available, because of the work that’s happening here, the advocacy that’s been happening here.  The work in our downtowns to actually build that type of housing connected to transportation.” – Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone

“Chambers of Commerce are the backbone of our economies.  Whether it’s Suffolk County, Nassau County, or wherever.  85% of our employment is a direct result of the efforts they bring to bear and their members.  There is a whole range of different business opportunities we have” – Suffolk County Comptroller John Kennedy

“We talk about a lot of downtowns and Baldwin has a real chance now, but it’s not just Baldwin.  Valley Stream wants to revamp their entire downtown.  Then you talk about the gas line [moratorium], well that’s hampering that sort of advancement.” – Hempstead Receiver of Taxes Don Clavin

“I fully support the continuation of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Zoning spearheaded by former Councilwoman Sweeney. I hope that I can work collaboratively with my fellow Board members to ensure the committee is reconvened, and remains focused on areas where our antiquated code remains a detriment to expeditious economic development, and a barrier to creating housing options and applying smart growth principles. We need to take a comprehensive look at our zoning code, and leverage the diverse expertise of that Blue Ribbon Panel to ensure that rezoning efforts are sustainable and progressive enough to not just right the wrongs, but look towards the future of what our Town needs.” – Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen

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Vision Long Island Joins with LI Main Street Alliance for Meet the Candidates Forum

Vision Long Island board members and staff were out in support of the second meeting of the LI Main Street Alliance along with the Nassau and Suffolk Chambers, LIBC, and AARP members.

The meeting was a joint “Meet the Candidates” forum featuring Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, Suffolk Comptroller John Kennedy, Town of Hempstead Receiver of Taxes and Supervisor candidate Don Clavin. Town of Hempstead Council candidates Tom Tweedy and Lora Webster also presented.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone spoke first, telling the room about the past successes of his administration as well as his vision for the future of Suffolk.  In particular he talked about the need to connect our downtowns and create a region that promotes inclusivity through affordable housing and transportation.

“We now have housing where you can go into the city or get to another downtown if you want to and take public transportation,” said Executive Bellone.  “That’s only possible, that’s only available, because of the work that’s happening here, the advocacy that’s been happening here.  The work in our downtowns to actually build that type of housing connected to transportation.”

His opponent Comptroller Kennedy also spoke at the event, promoting a message of financial responsibility for the County.  He spoke on how his background made him uniquely qualified to put the County on secure financial footing and open up new opportunities for small business in the region.  Mr. Kennedy singled out Chambers of Commerce in particular for praise during his speech.

“Chambers of Commerce are the backbone of our economies, the Comptroller said.  “Whether it’s Suffolk County, Nassau County, or wherever.  85% of our employment is a direct result of the efforts they bring to bear and their members.  There is a whole range of different business opportunities we have.”

Town of Hempstead Supervisor candidate Don Clavin, who is also the current Receiver of Taxes, also spoke at the event.  He focused on his background reforming the Tax Receiver’s office and how would be able to bring the same type of energy to Hempstead at large.  He also talked about the importance of creating downtown centers and providing for their future needs to help create prosperity.

Mr. Clavin noted that “we talk about a lot of downtowns and Baldwin has a real chance now, but it’s not just Baldwin.  Valley Stream wants to revamp their entire downtown.  Then you talk about the gas line [moratorium], well that’s hampering that sort of advancement.”

To fill in for supervisor Gillen, two of the candidates for the Town of Hempstead’s board were also present: former Floral Park Mayor Tom Tweedy and Lora Webster.  Mr. Tweedy spoke first, citing his experience as a former Mayor as part of his resume for local government.  His message focused on the efforts he made as Mayor to create a more walkable environment for his residents.  He also talked about the need for affordable housing and the need for sustainable development.

“I think that often Blue Ribbon Commissions are a response to the growing needs on the island.  We are an evolving island.  I think it’s very important that the idea of sustainable growth and affordable housing are the needs that are addressed.  I support a Blur Ribbon Commission that addresses those needs for Hempstead as they were in Baldwin,” said Mr. Tweedy.

Lora Webster also talked about affordable housing and sustainability but her message was also one of cooperation and the need for local government to be responsive to local residents.  She talked about how she’s worked with the current administration to bring just that to Hempstead.

“We have such opposing views in our country right now and in our local government.,” said Ms. Webster.  “Our job as local officials is to represent all sides and all views and we are supposed to be an advocate for what our district believes in.  I really think that we need more communication, team work, and problem solving in our local government.”

Unfortunately, Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen was unable to attend the event due to a budget issue that required her attention.  She did later submit notes to Vision Long Island that expressed a support for continued revitalization efforts in Baldwin as well as support for the Blue Ribbon Commission examining Hempstead’s current zoning code.

Laura Gillen shared her views on many of the questions asked after the event. Regarding the continuation of the Blue Ribbon commission she said “I fully support the continuation of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Zoning spearheaded by former Councilwoman Sweeney. I hope that I can work collaboratively with my fellow Board members to ensure the committee is reconvened, and remains focused on areas where our antiquated code remains a detriment to expeditious economic development, and a barrier to creating housing options and applying smart growth principles. We need to take a comprehensive look at our zoning code, and leverage the diverse expertise of that Blue Ribbon Panel to ensure that rezoning efforts are sustainable and progressive enough to not just right the wrongs, but look towards the future of what our Town needs.” 

All candidates expressed support for varying downtown revitalization projects, pedestrian safety improvement projects, and increased housing options primarily for young people.  Town of Hempstead candidates also pledged to keep the Blue Ribbon Commission on zoning moving forward and improve the Building Department process, which has had its share of issues.

The Suffolk County officials recognized the importance in improving the process of the health department to help small businesses have a more predictable timeframe to open or expand.  Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Nassau Presiding Officer Rich Nicolello, who opened the meeting, were praised for advancing the Commercial PACE solar program as well.

Rapid fire questions and candid responses kept the crowd of 100 local businesses and downtown advocates engaged.  Questions covered a wide range of subjects that included affordable housing for vets and the elderly, solutions for keeping young people on Long Island, and other hot topics around the region today.

Brief updates from the Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce, AARP LI, Village of Lynbrook, Village of Rockville Centre, Village of Farmingdale, hamlet of Central Islip and the charitable work of 1st Equity Title and Pink Tie were also provided.  Sadly, we couldn’t get to the dozen other updates given the need to end on time.

Special thanks to all who participated in this productive forum!

You can read more about this forum at Long Island Business News.

National Grid’s John Buckner Explains Natural Gas Moratorium as Energy Regulator Admits to Shortage

One of the most misunderstood issues facing our energy infrastructure has been the need for investment in the NESE natural gas pipeline.

The last few months of the natural gas moratorium from National Grid has impacted over 4000 applications for service, a portion of which will now be served based on an emergency declaration from NYS PSC.

While Vision Long Island supports and looks forward to a renewable energy future, the technology is not there to be able to sustain the growth needed in our local downtowns.  The pipeline is needed to ensure an orderly transition to a future powered mostly by renewable energy.

That transition is looking more and more necessary as, In an interesting twist, New York State’s top utility regulator admitted that there is a gas shortage even as they challenge National Grid for the moratorium.  Public Service Commissioner Diane Burman talked about how Albany was at fault for not working to boost the energy supply before rejecting solutions such as the pipeline.

“The most important thing is to keep the lights on,” said Burman.  “Those who say ‘no new pipelines’ should look at what the ramifications are.”

Several other PSC officials, who have accused National Grid of attempting to hold customers hostage in exchange for the pipeline, also acknowledged that there is a shortage and that capacity is partly to blame.  They also noted that short term solutions to a loss of gas service may lead to customers using dirtier methods of energy or transportation to get energy.  The use of large vehicles on local roads will probably increase as a result.

Check out this thorough interview from National Grid’s John Bruckner, who answers tough questions from a CBS reporter and helps shed some light on the supply and growth needs facing Long Island residents and businesses.  You can also read more on he PSC’s admission to a shortage at the New York Post.

SCVOA Hosts Fall Municipal Training Program

Vision staff joined with over one hundred municipal staff and elected officials at the Suffolk County Village Officials Association’s fall municipal training program this past week.

Mayors in attendance included Hon. Paul Pontieri from Patchogue, Hon. Raymond Fell from Bellport, Hon. Dennis Siry from Amityville, Hon. Ralph Ekstrand from Farmingdale, Hon. Robert Scottaline fom Lake Grove, and Hon. Richard Smith from Nissequogue.  Former New York State Senator and former Mayor of the Village of Mineola, Jack Martins, was the night’s special invitee.

Opening the evening Hon. Peter Bee, former mayor of Village of Garden City, outlined the night’s interesting topics, which included “Wait, we are being sued? Am I covered for that,” “Downtown Retail Revitalization: A Panel Discussion,” “Key Metrics for Village Effectiveness, a Financial Perspective,” and “Assessing Site Uses from a Zoning & Planning Perspective.”  Mr. Bee impressed upon all the attendees to network, talk, and remember you learn more from mistakes than you do from success.

One of the night’s most animated sessions was the panel discussion focusing on downtown revitalization.  Moderator Martins summed it up early on that change is hard, but can and will be successful if you make the change on your community’s terms.  

Panel members included Mayors Pontieri, Ekstrand, and Siry among others.  Each mayor described their journey to downtown revitalization based on their unique village resources from waterfront to access to NYC.  The common thread which ran through each story of success was the need for community input up front.  Senator Martins spoke about the importance of forming a master plan by having the community identify points of what they want to preserve and points they want to change, with community engagement throughout the entire process.

There was a lively and informative Q & A at the end of each session as participants integrated the information presented to the specifics of their villages.  A very informative evening, with all attendants looking forward to next spring’s program.

Local Villages continue to provide the most effective and efficient way to manage local downtowns and achieve consensus on future growth.  Without them over 70% of the Main Street and TOD efforts would never have gotten approved or built.  Kudos to the Suffolk VOA for their presence along with the great work of the Nassau County VOA.

SUNY Old Westbury Honors Alumni at Awards Dinner

Vision Board and staff were out at an event for SUNY Old Westbury honoring our founder Ron Stein​​ and friend Karon Williams among others.

Great to see our Board member Lionel Chitty​​ and longtime friend Lynda Parmely​​, Peoples United Bank’s Liz Custodio, Village of Westbury Trustee William Wise, and Corrinne Graham​​ among the well over 200 attendees.

Congrats to all the honorees!

26th Annual Taste of the Harvest held by Island Harvest

Vision Board and staff were out this week in support of another great event from Island Harvest.

Island harvest is one of the regional not-for-profits that really gets resources to local communities each and every day.  They have worked tirelessly for decades to help support those who need it the most in our region. 

This year’s event featured food from a wide variety of local vendors and food companies.  Proceeds from the event went to local Long islanders most in need of hunger relief.

Kudos to Randi Dresner and her team for the work they do and another great event!

Town of Huntington Discusses Proposed C6 Changes

Wednesday evening, Vision spoke at the Huntington Town Board meeting regarding the proposed changes to the C6 zoning in downtown Huntington. 

It was a packed room in spite the weather, with most residents there for this issue.  Supervisor Lupinacci introduced the proposal and explained the reasons for it.  He also shared that he has met with many regarding this proposal and that half thinks it goes too far while the other half thinks it doesn’t go far enough.

The Supervisor then introduced Deputy Planning Director Dave Genaway who explained the proposed zoning changes in detail.  The changes fall under three portions of the code:  dimensional and bulk regulations, site plan review, and off street parking requirements.  One of the most significant changes is the addition of Floor Area Ratio (FAR) limits, which currently don’t exist.  New buildings would be limited to 1.5 FAR and would be unable to build anything with a floor area 1.5 times the total size of the site, while existing buildings would be limited to 2.5 FAR.  The maximum height would be reduced from 45 feet to 38 feet.

Other proposed changes include a maximum amount of residential service space on the ground floor of mixed-use buildings and a prohibition of parking in front of existing buildings, which is already prohibited in front of new buildings.  The Site Plan application process would now require applicants to provide a traffic study and possible mitigation, a sewer capacity study, a payment for storm water improvements if not able to provide on site, and design review to ensure proposal fits existing neighborhood aesthetics.  Off street parking requirements would not be allowed to be met by using new municipal lots.

Many speakers at the event felt that the zoning did not go far enough and had concerns about where additional residents would park.  Others were concerned that limiting the amount of apartments would further limit abilities to create affordable housing and places for younger residents to live.  Vision’s testimony focused on the need for a code that reflects the complex nature of downtowns and the importance of walkability, not parking in decision making. 

Vision also stated that codes should be revised through an open planning process, not behind closed doors, allowing for a more productive conversation.  We also had concerns that the regulations would make smaller projects impossible and only large projects would be able to meet all of the additional requirements.

Developer set to Reveal Plans for Capri Lynbrook Motor Inn

Lynbrook residents will soon have their first chance to see plans for a new set of rental apartments at the site of the Capri Lynbrook Motor inn.  The new plans will be unveiled at a town board meeting set to take place on October 21st.

The plans come after developer Anthony Bartone of Bartone & Terwilliger met with local residents to gather feedback on what they would like to see on the site of the dilapidated motel.  Residents provided a wealth of information, which Mr. Bartone then took back to his development team to try and implement.  He hoped that this process has created a project that will fit with the community’s ideals.

“Resident participation made this a truly collaborative proposal,” he said in a statement, “by informing design and architectural decisions before any formal plans were developed, and we are pleased to announce the formal submission of an application for the Village of Lynbrook’s review. We will continue to actively listen and meet with residents, and we look forward to removing a nuisance property and supporting the tax base with a proposal Lynbrook can be proud of.”

This is Bartone’s second attempt at building apartments in downtown Lynbrook.  His first was met with community opposition after which he pledged to work closely with residents.  That led him to the current set of plans, approval of which will be required before the owners of the motel will sell.

The closing of the motel itself will be a victory for the community, which has long sought its closure.  The motel has been the location of numerous crimes and arrests and elected officials as well as residents have long considered it an eyesore. 

“I think it’s wonderful, and we’re going in the right direction, and it seems very positive,” said mayor Beach. “What’s better than getting rid of such a tremendous headache for the village?”

Developer and officials have both pledged to have an open process as the project moves forward.  You can visit the project’s website for updates here, and read more about the upcoming public meeting at the Long Island Herald.

Local Artist Michael Stanko holds Reception at Sip This on Rockaway Ave

Vision was out in downtown Valley Stream this week at a reception featuring artist Michael Stanko and located at local coffeehouse Sip This.

An assortment of his work covered the walls of the shop to the delight of the packed crowd.  The collection featured a brightly colored mix of still life images.

It as great to meet the artist while seeing some of the Saturday night activity on Rockaway Ave.  Kudos for David Sabatino at Sip This for hosting a great event that drew folks to their local downtown.

Babylon Village to Hold Annual Fall Harvest Festival on October 19th

Please join The Babylon Village Chamber of Commerce for their 27th Annual Fall Harvest Festival, Street Fair and Sidewalk Sale!

Friday & Sunday will feature a sidewalk sale!  All of your favorite businesses will be offering amazing deals and promotions, not to mention beautiful new Fall Merchandise!  Saturday will be the Harvest Festival & Street Fair itself with 2 Performing Stages with continuous live entertainment all day long.

Food & Fun for the entire family, delicious BBQ, curbside brick-oven pizza, taco trucks, and specialty foods served by your favorite Babylon restaurants, cafes & bakeries.  Outdoor dining will be available at restaurants as well as rides, games, petting zoo, pony rides, face painting and so much more!

There will also be an Apples and Art Festival at The Conklin House and dance performances.

Location is the heart of Babylon Village:  Deer Park Avenue, Cross Streets, RR Avenue and Main Street.

Huntington Historical Society to Hold Annual Apple Festival on October 20th

​The Huntington Historical Society is set to hold its Annual Apple Festival on Sunday, October 20th.  It will take place at the Kissam Property, located at 434 Park Avenue in downtown Huntington.  The yearly event features a number of family fun celebrating the arrival of autumn.  Entry to this fun family festival is free, though some activities have fees.  

Enjoy traditional games, seasonal crafts, live music, fall foods, and historical demonstrations by costumed interpreters.

You can check out more information here.

AARP LI Offering Level-Up Entrepreneur Workshops Starting October 26th

AARP Long Island and SpringBoard Incubators Inc is offering Level-Up Entrepreneur Workshops this fall and winter.  There is no charge for AARP members and guests to join and attend these workshops.

The number of entrepreneurs over age 50 is surging in the United States, having increased by 50 percent since 2007, according to a new research report.  Today, 3 in 10 entrepreneurs are 50-plus today, compared to 2 in 10 in 2007.  Seventy-eight percent of business owners 50 and older said the top reason they’d recommend starting a business was the satisfaction of working for themselves.

The Level-up Entrepreneurs Workshops for AARP Long Island will offer interested entrepreneurs the ability to formulate their business ideas and establish a foundation on which to build a successful business. Some of the key takeaways from this workshop includes access to information, organizations, and resources required to start-up, establish and/or grow their business. 

The workshop will consist of 6 Saturday events beginning October 26th.  They will take place through December 14th from 10am to 2pm.  Space is limited.  Please officially RSVP and Register ASAP.  You must register at OR call to register at 1-877-926-8300 as soon as possible. 

Remember, you must register and be able to attend ALL 6 Saturday sessions.  Also, be sure to come by the AARP resource info table before and after each sessions.  Learn more about what AARP is doing in your local community!

3rd Annual PinkTie Halloween Party to be held on Wednesday, October 30th

Join, if you dare, for their 3rd Annual Halloween Party! Be sure to dress in your best costumes as prizes will be awarded to the best male and female costumes!  General Admission Tickets include food, beer, and wine.  VIPink Tickets* include Premium Liquor Bar in addition to food, beer, and wine.

This year’s event will take place at the Carltun at Eisenhower Park and is benefiting Long Island Fight for Charity.  Performers include “PINK PUNCHERS” presented by FBA National, Tabetha “The Pit Bull” Pradel, Karen “Angel Gloves” Scutellaro, Vincent “Vinbones” Melillo, Joseph “Deal Maker” Vozza, and Adam “The Hard Drive” Schwam

You can purchase tickets for this important charitable event here.

*Active PinkTie 1000 Members will receive VIPink upgrade at check-in.  PinkTie 1000, the event organizer, is an initiative of with the goal to compel 1,000 individuals from the real estate industry, and beyond, to commit to contributing $100 each quarter ($400/year) to various local charitable causes, four times per year.  All donations are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.

Cuomo Announces $3 Million for Zero-Emission Vehicles and Infrastructure

Governor Cuomo has announced #3 million in funding for municipalities to purchase zero-emission vehicles and infrastructure.

The funds will come in the form of rebates and grants administered by the State Department of Environmental Conversation (DEC) and supported by the state’s Environmental Protection Fund.  This comes as part of the governor’s plan to create nation-leading climate goals as well as clean transportation initiatives that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

This round of funding will be administered by DEC through the New York State Grants Gateway and includes the following:

Clean Vehicle Rebates: $500,000
Rebates are available to municipalities that purchase (or lease for a minimum of 36 months) an eligible, clean vehicle placed into municipal service at a dealership in New York State on or after July 1, 2019. Plug-in hybrid, all-electric, or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles with a 10- to 50-mile electric range are eligible for rebates of $2,500. Vehicles with an electric range of 51 miles or greater are eligible for rebates of $5,000. DEC will accept applications until July 24, 2020, or until funding is exhausted, whichever occurs first.

ZEV Infrastructure Grants: $2,500,000
Grants are available to municipalities to install hydrogen filling station components or electric vehicle supply equipment that is Level 2 or direct current fast charge (DCFC).  A 20 percent local match based on total project cost is required. Maximum grant amounts are $250,000 for any facility and $500,000 to any one municipality. There is no minimum award amount. DEC will accept applications until May 29, 2020, or until funding is exhausted, whichever occurs first.

 Full details regarding both programs are available in the Requests for Applications on the DEC website:

FTA Makes $19.9 Million Available for TOD Planning

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has announced the availability of approximately $19.19 million in Pilot Program for TOD Planning funding to support comprehensive planning associated with new fixed guideway and core capacity improvement projects. The FTA will award grants ranging from $250,000 to $2 million for proposals that meet the key objectives of the TOD Pilot Program.

The Pilot Program for TOD Planning provides funding to local communities to integrate land use and transportation planning in new fixed guideway and core capacity transit project corridors. As required by statute, any comprehensive planning funded through the pilot program must examine ways to improve economic development and ridership, foster multimodal connectivity and accessibility, improve transit access for pedestrian and bicycle traffic, engage the private sector, identify infrastructure needs, and enable mixed-use development near transit stations. The statute also requires that the planning work be associated with a new fixed guideway or core capacity transit project as defined in Federal transit statute (49 USC 5309(a); also see the NOFO for the definitions).

Synopses and full announcement are posted on site as opportunity FTA-2019-010-TPE. Proposals must be submitted electronically through the website by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on November 18, 2019.

Town of Hempstead Announces New Multi-Use Trails in Port Washington

Hempstead Harbor Woods in Port Washington is now home to 5 miles of biking and hiking trails according to the Town of North Hempstead, with five to six more miles possible by next summer.

The trails are the product of a campaign by Concerned Long Island Mountain Bicyclists, or CLUMB.  The group works to design, build, and maintain local trails for Long Island residents who enjoy a good hike to bike ride in their own backyards.  The new trails come at no cost to the Town itself.

“They have a lot of volunteers and I thought frankly it was a little too good to be true,” said North Hempstead Councilwoman, who’s district is home to the new trail. “I did my own research about the organization. Everything they said was true. We did speak to a few other municipalities. I arranged a meeting at the town with the parks department, the town attorney and CLIMB. We just wanted to see if there was anything that we were missing and there wasn’t.”

According to CLIMB president Michael Vitti, the group is looking to have another mile of trail open by the end of this month.  CLUMB is also the recipient of a past Long Island Smart Growth Award.

The Town has also added a few new improvements such as a new sign and added parking areas.

You can

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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Phone: 631-261-0242. Fax: 631-754-4452.

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