2011 Year in Review
2011 has been one of the most productive years yet for Vision. For our final installment of SmartTalk for the year, we thought we’d highlight the biggest stories that demonstrate the great progress and challenges that Long Island has experienced this year.
We wish you a happy New Year and look forward to an even better 2012!
Newly inaugurated Governor Andrew Cuomo delivers State of the State in Albany: The Empire State Strikes Back!
Vision Long Island headed up to Albany to attend the annual State of the State address by newly inaugurated NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo. The speech was one of many firsts: the first time the event was held outside of the Assembly chambers and in the 2000-seat convention center, the first time legislative leaders gave speeches during the event, the first time technology was used during the speech (Cuomo used a powerpoint) and the first time members of the public were directly invited to attend (tickets were disseminated by lottery).
Governor Cuomo said “this is a time of crisis for our State; a time when we must transform our government...and seize the opportunity that is before us... In government as in life, you can never solve a problem if you refuse to acknowledge it... We need to see a “fundamental economic realignment for the state of New York.”" We must focus on bolstering New York’s private sector, said Cuomo. He proposed creating 10 regional economic councils across the State, which would serve as public-private partnerships centered on job creation in that region from a bottom-up, localized perspective. The councils would compete for State grants.
According to the Governor's press release, he "will create the ‘NY Cleaner, Greener Communities Program’ to provide competitive grants that encourage communities to develop regional sustainable growth strategies in housing, transportation, emissions control and energy efficiency. The program will emphasize revitalizing urban areas through Smart Growth, creating green jobs, building green infrastructure including roof and rain gardens and strengthening environmental justice and protection.”
Courtesy Hotel demolition makes way for TOD
After a ten year battle, the community of West Hempstead has finally succeeded in closing the Courtesy Hotel. Long considered an eyesore and a hot spot for criminal activity, many local leaders were glad to finally see the hotel go and eagerly await the proposed residential complex that will replace it. "We are delighted that community and town efforts have resulted in the closing of this eyesore," said Rabbi Art Vernon of the Jewish Community Center of West Hempstead.
With the closure comes a sense of excitement about the new complex proposed for the location. In late 2008, West Hempstead created a special Transit Oriented Development district specifically for the area around the hotel. This, coupled with an LIRR-owned one acre site directly adjacent that shall remain undeveloped, has made it possible for Mill Creek Residential Trust (formerly Trammell Crow Residential) to move forward on the proposal for a four-story residential building with 150 rental units and two levels of underground parking. The project, The Alexan @ West Hempstead, received a 2009 Smart Growth Award for community revitalization.
Hempstead Village picks developer for downtown redevelopment
In 2007, the Village of Hempstead picked Urban America, a Manhattan-based developer, to help redevelop its downtown before political infighting forced Village trustees to table the original $2 billion proposal. The Village has now come full circle by re-designating Urban America, who is now partnered with Long Island developer Renaissance Downtowns, to transform part of the downtown into what was originally planned as 2,500 condos, 600,000 sq feet of commercial space and a performing arts center.
Renaissance Downtowns' Brandon Palanker noted that his company stresses a “triple bottom line” of social, environmental and economic benefits when it orchestrates a downtown rebirth, and that the community would be involved in shaping the proposal, as was the case the first time around. Amenities such as urban agriculture, rooftop gardens, public piazzas for farmers’ markets and events will be highlights of the renewal effort. “We think Hempstead is already a vibrant community,” he said. “This provides the economic impetus to really pull things together here.”
North Hempstead passes Complete Streets law
This week, the Town of North Hempstead became the fourth Long Island municipality to adopt a local Complete Streets policy. As one Complete Streets website puts it, “The streets... ought to be for everyone, whether young or old, motorist or bicyclist, walker or wheelchair user, bus rider or shopkeeper. But too many of our streets are designed only for speeding cars, or worse, creeping traffic jams.”
“North Hempstead is proud to pass a resolution adopting the ‘Complete Street’ proposal,” said Supervisor Jon Kaiman. “Instituting this policy will ensure that all roadways in North Hempstead will be designed will all users in mind – including pedestrians, cyclists, and other non-motorized modes of transportation.”
Harrison Hale Community Action Center and Community Cafe hold grand opening celebration
The Gordon Heights community, along with elected officials from the Town of Brookhaven and beyond, gathered in Medford to celebrate the grand opening of the Harrison Hale Community Action Center and Community Cafe. Over the last decade, the Harrison Hale Community Action Center implemented programs and activities to aid the working, poor, homeless, seniors, youth and low- to moderate-income individuals and families.
The Action Center's "human incubator concept" hopes to use the cafe to serve as "a safe haven for the children of the community. Upon entering the facility, children will recieve a hot, nutritious meal and recieve information regarding the importance of living healthy lives." The Resource Center, it continues, will provide counselors to help children with homework, tutoring and provide artistic and recreational activities.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, Brookhaven Town Supervisor Mark Lesko, Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Connie Kepert and Suffolk Legislator Kate Browning were all also keenly involved in pushing the project forward. The press release states, "the collaboration of this multi-level of government involvement demonstrates that by working together, we can help implement and deliver the much-needed services to our community."
Bishop Harrison Hale, President and founder of the Community Center, said, "the community is where our strength lies and where our support should be given." The Cafe is part of an ongoing visioning process in Gordon Heights. For more information, contact Bishop Hale at 631-698-8484.
Business, community, labor and environmental leaders join forces for 3rd annual Long Island Lobby Day
Tuesday, February 8th marked the third annual Long Island Lobby Day. Over 50 participants, representing nearly 45 Long Island business leaders, environmentalists, civic associations, human services, senior advocates, Smart Growth planners, labor groups and transportation advocates converged in Albany to meet with elected officials in hopes of advancing a substantive platform to help Long Island. The platform included transportation, sewer infrastructure, energy and environment, small business, jobs and economic development and human services.
The diverse coalition has grown once again and now includes: AARP, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Empire State Future, Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce, Long Island Business Council, Long Island Federation of Labor, Long Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Long Island Software and Technology Network, Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce, Tri-State Transportation Campaign and Vision Long Island. Additional participating organizations include: Concern for Independent Living, Concerned Citizens of the Plainview-Old Bethpage Community, Coram Civic Association, Dowling College, Elmont Chamber of Commerce, Friends of Huntington Station, Glen Cove Business Improvement District, Gordon Heights Civic Association, Gordon Heights Chamber of Commerce, Hicksville Chamber of Commerce, Lake Ronkonkoma Civic Organization, Long Island Housing Partnership, Long Island Minority AIDS Coalition, Mastic Beach Property Owners Association, Mastics-Moriches-Shirley Community Library, Middle Island Civic Association, Neighborhood Network, New York League of Conservation Voters, Plainview/Old Bethpage Chamber of Commerce, Renaissance Downtowns, Roel Resources, Save the Forge River, Selden Civic Association, South Yaphank Civic Association, them TV, US Green Building Council – Long Island Chapter, Verizon, Wading River Civic Association and Youth of Ethical Societies, Long Island Chapter.
Meetings were held with all nine Long Island Senators- Kenneth LaValle, John Flanagan, Lee Zeldin, Owen Johnson, Carl Marcellino, Kemp Hannon, Jack Martins, Charles Fuschillo, and Majority Leader Dean Skelos; Assemblymembers Philip Boyle, Steve Englebright, Al Graf, Andrew Raia and Harvey Weisenberg; Senate Minority Leader John Sampson and Senator Daniel Squadron; and Tony Giardina, Assistant Secretary for Economic Development for the Governor. Members of our Coalition also met separately with Assemblymembers Chuck Lavine, Dan Losquadro and Dean Murray.
You can download the full agenda here.
Long Island tops list for most dangerous roads for pedestrians
According to a recently released study by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, Long Island once again has the dubious distinction of being home to several the tri-state region’s most dangerous roads for pedestrians. In fact, for three years running, Nassau County’s Hempstead Turnpike has topped the list with more pedestrians killed than any other roadway in the region. Ryan Lynch, senior planner and Long Island coordinator for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, suggested a pedestrian island could help curb fatalities by providing a refuge for pedestrians in the middle of the road. "If you get caught between the light, you can feel like you won't get sideswiped by a car," he said.
2011 Long Island Youth Summit Brings 200 Top High School Students to Work with Experts on Long Island Issues
On March 11, 2011 two hundred high school students from across Long Island assembled for the 2011 Long Island Youth Summit (LIYS) that took place at Dowling College in Oakdale, NY. The purpose of the Summit was to work with the brightest and most active high school students in order to make them aware of the socio-economic, environmental and socio-medical issues that are affecting Long Island and to recommend solutions to these issues.
In order to participate in the Summit, students were asked either to write a paper/essay or to create a short video or an art portfolio that would discuss possible solutions to a suburban issue of their choice. The issues that high school students were asked to research included Environment on Long Island: Preservation of Open Space, Protection of Water and Renewable Energy; Housing and Suburban Culture; Transportation; Long Island Economy and Business Environment; Long Island Governance Structure and Civic Activism; Race, Class, and Education on Long Island and Socio-Medical Topics of Bullying in Schools and Social Networking. The 2011 LIYS Selection Committee received submissions from more than 500 students from over 30 high Long Island high schools. Based on the quality of their submitted work, two hundred students were selected as the finalists who, together with their high school teachers, participated in the Summit.
During the day of the Summit finalists and their teachers participated in topic workshops with thirty experts in the areas of business and economics, governance, housing and transportation, environment, socio-medical issues, race and education, and non-profit and civic activism on proposing the solutions to the issues affecting Long Island. After completing their topic workshops, the participants convened for a joint final session and the awards ceremony where they presented their workshop recommendations.
Long Island Smart Growth Working Group hears from Mangano, towns, developers
On Wednesday, March 9th, over 80 people attended a meeting of the Long Island Smart Growth Working Group at the Sustainability Institute at Molloy College. The featured speaker was Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, who talked about issues ranging from infrastructure investments to redevelopment at the Coliseum site, LI Bus and revitalization throughout the county. There were also several updates from towns and developers, as well as program updates.
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano began: “Even though we are facing hard economic times, we need to build infrastructure and put trade unions back to work.” He spoke about the details of last year’s bi-partisan capital spending plan to fix roads, improve parks, increase green energy and more and added that the next budget will include $200 million for revitalization. He said that Nassau County must improve its infrastructure, beginning with a stronger partnership with New York State. He pledged his support for creating a regional infrastructure bank, funded through pension contributions.
Adrienne Esposito of Citizens Campaign for the Environment and Ryan Lynch of Tri-State Transportation Campaign spoke about LI Lobby Day. Mark Grossman of the NYS Department of Labor gave a brief preview on the philosophy behind proposed regional Economic Development Councils that the Governor is creating. Peter Fleischer, of Empire State Future continued with an update on the Smart Growth Public Infrastructure Priority Act. Dowling College’s Dr. Nathalia Rogers spoke about the upcoming Long Island Youth Summit.
Vision Long Island gave updates on a new infrastructure committee, whose charge is to work with the new bill to move forward with priority recommendations.
Maria Rigopoulos of Mill Creek Residential Trust spoke about the West Hempstead TOD project, at the site of the former Courtesy Hotel. They have closed on it and are looking forward to building the 150-unit TOD project soon. Jonathan Keyes from the Town of Babylon said that a request for qualifications has been sent out for a primary site near the train station in Wyandanch, a community that is moving forward rapidly with revitalization plans. Other TODs that look to be moving forward are Patchogue’s New Village, the Ronkonkoma Hub and AvalonBay’s return to Huntington Station.
Riverhead Town Councilman James Wooten talked about all the great things going on in the Town, including a Hyatt Regency hotel slated for completion this summer, the Suffolk Theater revival, the 1 East Main Street project, Summer Wind Square and a plan that could bring the largest wind turbine on Long Island to a sewer district.
In Islip, Town Councilmembers Steve Flotteron and Trish Bergin Weichbrodt said their main focus has been the Heartland Town Square megaproject. Flotteron also covered Bay Shore, where there have been several walkability, waterfront, and affordable housing improvements. The Town recently adopted a Complete Streets law. Bergin Weichbrodt talked about a new focus on cesspool expansion and repairs through new technologies.
An MTA hearing will be held on March 23rd at Hofstra University from 3-9pm. You can also join the transit coalition working to save LI Bus by emailing Vision or Tri-State.
East End to Get Transit Boost
Though Nassau's bus system may be facing a reduction, riders on the East End got some good news this week. On Tuesday, the Suffolk County Legislature voted to add Sunday service to two bus lines, the S92 and the 10C. The service, proposed by County Legislators Ed Romaine and Jay Schneiderman, will be funded by a 50-cent fare increase on those lines (from $1.50 to $2.00). The two routes are some of the most popular on the system, running through all major East End communities including Riverhead, Montauk, Orient Point and everything in between.
The measure passed the Legislature nearly unanimously by a 16-1 vote, however County Executive Steve Levy was not convinced, and called for a survey of riders first. Informal polling by groups like Jobs with Justice have indicated rider support for the program, and support has been strong from the local business community and elected officials.
Others in attendance included Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter, Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell, and Southampton Town transportation director Tom Neely.
Though this will only serve as a pilot program, there is already a great deal of buzz around the service increase. The changes are slated to go into effect on July 3rd.
Town of Hempstead to rezone Nassau Hub
Last July, the Town of Hempstead declined to make the $3.8 billion mixed-use Lighthouse project a reality, denying it because the project was deemed too massive. Now the area is being revisited as the Town looks to make sweeping zoning changes to create a clear picture of what can be done to help the aging Nassau Coliseum and its 77-acre parking lot. Some note that this is simply the first step of an uphill climb for the development.
The new code will not allow for the density proposed in the original Lighthouse plan, but will instead fall more in line with what Hempstead proposed last July in response. Hotels will be limited to nine stories, with everything else limited to four, except for residential buildings, which will be held at three stories and have a total limit of 500 housing units- well below the 2,300 originally planned by the Lighthouse. This new plan will allow for 5.4 million sq, feet of development, or less than half of the original proposal.
Vision Long Island’s Executive Director Eric Alexander weighed in, noting that the new zoning allows for retail, offices, hotel, parks, multifamily residential and walkable streets that are “consistent with a new town center the area sorely needs.” Mr. Alexander also indicated that he’s asked the town to increase the number of allowed housing units under the new zoning rules.
For more on this important story, check out Long Island Business News’ original article.
Gordon Heights Land Use Plan approved
The Gordon Heights Land Use Plan was approved by the Brookhaven Town Board 6-1 on Tuesday evening. This is a great victory for the community, as over 500 residents took part in creating the plan that sprouted from a visioning process that began with Vision Long Island's help nearly 5 years ago.
Many projects have been approved and built in Gordon Heights since the visioning process began in 2006. New sidewalks have been added to several streets. Bathrooms were constructed in Children’s Park and Granny Road Park, allowing for a better quality of life as well as new camps and programs to be located there. The Harrison Hale Community Educational and Resource Center, a state-of-the-art community gathering place, opened in 2009 and now provides great programming and opportunities for residents. A new community recreation center, more sidwalks and many other improvements are also on the way.
The plan’s FGEIS was completed in February 2011, which you can view on the Town’s website here.
MTA votes to privatize LI Bus
On Wednesday morning, the MTA Board voted unanimously to end their contact with Nassau County to run the Long Island Bus system. The vote means that Nassau County will turn the bus system over to a private company on January 1, 2012. An operator has not yet been selected.
MTA chief Jay Walder was optimistic. "I don't agree that a privatized system has to be doomed to failure," he said. Many transit advocates and riders are not quite as enthusiastic. Nassau County has yet to release any details on what a private system would look like, so it may be premature to comment.
Some of LI’s State Senators recently stepped forward with additional funding to save the bus system from any further cuts in 2011. Without this funding, the system would have seen over half its lines cut this July. It is still unclear whether a private system would include any service reductions or fare increases.
New Village clears final hurdle in Patchogue
Last week, the Patchogue Village Zoning Board of Appeals approved 6 to 0 with one abstention the final parking variance needed to build Tritec’s New Village project in the heart of downtown Patchogue.
The project, worth $100 million, would replace the former Swezey’s department store with 291 apartments, 46,000 square feet of retail space and 18,000 square feet of office space. The Village Board approved the project in March, but a final vote by the ZBA was required to approve a parking spot size of 9 feet by 18 feet, versus the standard 9 feet by 20 feet size in the Village’s code.
Coliseum redevelopment takes step forward
On May 11th, Nassau Coliseum was filled with hundreds of business, community and labor leaders, elected officials and concerned citizens and Islanders fans to hear an announcement from Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray and Islanders owner Charles Wang on plans for the future of the Coliseum.
“Redeveloping the Hub is critical to creating jobs in our County and stimulating the local economy,” said Mangano. “With the support of business and community leaders, I am advancing a County-wide public referendum. This referendum will allow residents to decide whether we should build a sports-entertainment destination at the site of the Coliseum that retains our Islanders, construct a minor league ballpark and create thousands of jobs.”
Citizens will have the opportunity to decide the fate of this plan during a County-wide public referendum on August 1st. If residents approve the measure, construction is estimated to begin in 2012, so that the new sports arena can open no later than 2015.
Mangano noted that there would be a net zero cost to taxpayers, as the Islanders would compensate residents by paying the County a share of each dollar generated at the new sports arena. Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin said the proposed financing would amount to a maximum of 90 cents per week for the average household in Nassau, or $46.80 per year, before the Islanders begin to subsidize that amount with revenue generated from the new arena.
The Nassau Interim Finance Authority said it was deeply concerned about the proposal and the fiscal implications that would arise as a result. Meanwhile, Supervisor Murray is confident about plans to rezone the area surrounding the Coliseum, which would make way for the scaled-down mixed-use redevelopment including housing, retail, office and more.
Hicksville residents join to shape revitalization plan
On Saturday, May 21st, over 100 local residents joined together at the Hicksville Public Library to hear an update on the Hicksville Downtown Revitalization plan. The Hicksville Community Council and Chamber of Commerce were on hand to present the landmark revitalization plan after several years of working closely with local residents and civic groups.
Advancing Complete Streets in Albany
After years of planning, it's time to vote YES on August 1st
On Wednesday, July 14th, Vision Long Island held a press conference to support the Nassau Coliseum bond referendum that will take place on August 1st. Attendees included Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, Hicksville Chamber President Lionel Chitty, Vision Board Members Trudy Fitzsimmons, John Keating, Neal Lewis, Bruce Migatz, Michael Posillico and Michael Puntillo as well as Vision’s Executive Director Eric Alexander, Assistant Director Tawaun Weber, Sustainability Director Elissa Ward and Director of Special Projects Chris Kyle.
Eric Alexander highlighted the numerous reasons for Vision’s support of the new coliseum, explaining that at this moment “there is a mix of uses, but they’re not assembled in a way that’s a real, true place. The idea isn’t to lose pieces of the puzzle, but to build upon what we have.” Vision encourages the new design to include an integrated mix of uses, various housing options including a workforce component, accessibility to public transportation, walkable streets and a strong and safe link to surrounding destinations. Vision hopes to see ample state and federal dollars for infrastructure improvements surrounding the new development, which was absent from previous redevelopment proposals.
According to the County’s Economic Impact Statement, the project would provide a positive cash flow of $2.2 million annually, in excess of the debt service of $26 million. The new building would also attract approximately 1.37 million visitors each year versus the no-build alternative of 100,500 visitors.
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano said he believed the revitalization could be the “envy of the east coast.” After being at a crossroads for ten years, the decision has to be made to keep the area as a sports destination, which can not only retain jobs and commerce, but also expand it. Mangano stressed that without improvements, the sports teams, businesses and entertainment opportunities will continue to leave the county and spend their money elsewhere. Instead, public financing can restore the area and “leave the dollars here to be spent and re-spent."
Vision Board Members Michael Posillico of Posillico, Michael Puntillo Jr. of the Jobco Organization and Neal Lewis of the Sustainability Institute at Molloy College all voiced their support at the conference. They agreed that the completed project will spur critical and long-term economic growth for the core of Nassau County by expanding the tax base and providing jobs. “It’s time for action,” said Lewis, who emphasized the importance of resident involvement in the vote, since they have a stake in the county property.
Lionel Chitty of the Hicksville Chamber of Commerce agreed that “this is a no-brainer.”
While there are drawbacks to almost any redevelopment strategy, Vision believes that at this time and date, public financing for the Coliseum is the best option for progress at the Nassau Hub. Voting “yes” for the bond will allow the Islanders to stay on Long Island, preserve the tax base and provide the opportunity for mixed-use development and revitalization in the surrounding region.
Sandy Hills project gets the thumbs up
Brookhaven Town Board approved Sandy Hills project
On Tuesday, July 19th and after nearly two years of controversy, the Brookhaven Town Board granted developer Frank Weber the necessary zoning changes to build housing and commercial retail on a 39-acre wooded lot in Middle Island on the east side of Rocky Point Road, just north of Middle Country Road.
The mixed-use plan will include over 100 units of two- and three-bedroom condos and townhouses as well as 27 units of workforce housing above commercial buildings. The project is also meant to encompass Smart Growth principals through its pedestrian-oriented design. The project will preserve 18 acres of open space, including a purchase of three Pine Barrens credits at $70,000 each. Additionally, there will be a sewage treatment center on site to ensure that polluted runoff will not flow directly into nearby Carmans River.
As explained by Gail Lynch-Bailey, President of the Longwood Alliance and First Vice President of the Middle Island Civic Association, “the top two chambers of Middle Island’s heart have been dying for more than a decade. Sandy Hills will pump new life and energy into these chambers, bring jobs, homes and recreation.”
To read more, see Brookhaven’s Press Release.
Grand opening: Artspace Lofts in downtown Patchogue
On Wednesday, July 27th the much anticipated Artspace Lofts Development in Patchogue opened its doors for the first time to the public. Artspace is an $18-million, 60,000-square-foot, five-story live-work complex located at 20 Terry Street, one block off Main Street in Patchogue, a Smart Growth Award-winning downtown. The mixed-use complex consists of 45 housing units, each with a work space for artists. The complex also houses a gallery and retail space. The project was funded by the sale of tax-exempt bonds through the New York State Housing Finance Agency, federal and state low-income housing tax credits, county and local economic development funds, developer investment and philanthropic contributions. Construction began in December 2009 and was completed in June 2011.
Governor Cuomo signs Complete Streets legislation!
On August 15th, NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the historic Complete Streets legislation. The State Senate and Assembly unanimously passed the bill earlier this summer.
In a press release from the Governor's office, he said "New York's roadways should safely accommodate all pedestrians, motorists and cyclists, and this legislation will help communities across the state achieve this objective," Governor Cuomo said. "Complete Streets designs recognize measures that will make streets safer for New Yorkers of all ages and abilities. I thank Senator Fuschillo and Assemblyman Gantt for their hard work on this legislation."
NYS Senator Charles Fuschillo said "Complete streets design principles have been proven to reduce fatalities and injuries, and by taking them into consideration on future projects we will greatly improve the safety of pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers of all ages and abilities. This new law will result in safer roadways and I thank Governor Cuomo for supporting this law which will help save lives, prevent injuries, and make New York a safer place for all."
Eric Alexander, Executive Director of Vision Long Island, said "Pedestrian and bicycle fatalities have continued to be a major safety concern for all road users on LI. The newly enacted "Complete Streets" legislation wil help reverse that trend. Kudos to Governor Cuomo, Sen. Fuschillo and the NYS Senate and the NYS Assembly for moving this important bill forward. This is the third piece of major legislation signed into law in two years advanced by the LI Lobby Coalition. 45 LI civic, environmental, transportation, human service and business organizations worked together on the Complete Streets bill this year among other priorities."
Thank you to all our state legislators who helped pass this historic legislation! Senators: Charles Fuschillo (bill sponsor), Jack Martins, Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Kenneth LaValle, John Flanagan, Lee Zeldin, Owen Johnson, Carl Marcellino & Kemp Hannon. Assembly members: Dan Losquadro, Fred Thiele, Dean Murray, Steven Englebright, Al Graf, Philip Ramos, Michael Fitzpatrick, Philip Boyle, Andrew Raia, James Conte, Robert Sweeney, Joseph Saladino, Charles Lavine, Brian Curran, Michael Montesano, Michelle Schimel, Tom McKevitt, Earlene Hooper, David McDonough, Harvey Weisenberg and Edward Ra.
This bill could not have moved forward without significant local support and advocacy.
Special thanks go out to members of the Long Island Lobby Coalition who have been calling and writing constantly over the last month, including Tri-State Transportation Campaign, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Mayer Horn of Greenman-Pedersen, Tom Talbot of Middle Island Civic Association, Ralph Fasano of Concern for Independent Living, Ernie Mattace of Suffolk County Community College, Carol Meschkow of Concerned Citizens of the Plainview-Old Bethpage Community, Will Ferris of AARP, Peter Fleischer of Empire State Future, and others!
Voters turn down Coliseum referendum, Mangano looks for other options
The referendum which would have allowed Nassau County to borrow $400 million to redevelop the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum and build a minor league baseball park among other possible projects at the site deemed “The Hub” was not approved by voters. With 57% of voters rejecting a publicly-funded development project, the Islanders’ future in Nassau County, along with that of the Coliseum itself, is unsure. Islanders’ owner Charles Wang hopes to keep the team as close to the current arena as possible, but plans to explore other opportunities for the team, whose lease at the site expires in 2015.
County Executive Mangano believed the publicly-funded plan would be the catalyst for increased revenue and job growth in Nassau. After the defeat, he called for private developers to come forward and send his office plans to develop the Hub saying, "I can tell you this, tonight is not the end of our journey, but merely the beginning. In the coming weeks I will explore a path for new opportunities and growth in Nassau County." Mangano’s office is in the process of filing a Request For Proposals to give developing rights to a private holder. The RFP is open to several options that both include and exclude the arena as well as leasing or selling the land. The County Executive’s only request is that the plans generate revenue and jobs and improve the quality of life in Nassau County.
Belmont casino plan moves forward
In a recent meeting, the Shinnecock Indian Nation and local Elmont leaders produced a proposal for Belmont Park that included a 400- to 600-room hotel, a gaming facility and entertainment complex with restaurants, along with a renovated LIRR station and soccer field. All of this would compliment a modernized racetrack grandstand while the casino would be placed on a 35 to 45 acre lot south of the racetrack. The community plan emphasized not only the development of the crumbling southern lot, but also the construction of a shopping center and restaurants. The current proposal is estimated to net 12,000 full time jobs and 3,450 construction jobs.
A source close to the project indicated that although the plan is in line with the vision, the Shinnecocks are still in the process of meeting with local community members and politicians before finalizing the plan. The proposal has not been approved on any governmental level and no one from the tribe has met with Governor Cumo's representatives. “We plan to have a number of meetings with the community,” according to the source. “We want to hear what the community has to say. We want to start from the beginning and be good neighbors.”
The Elmont community, though supportive of a Belmont casino, wants to ensure additional development occurs as well. Newly-elected NYS Senator Jack Martins (R-Mineola) has expressed support for the casino project in conjunction with a revitalization initiative. A spokesperson for Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano has stated that he will continue to work with the Shinnecock Nation on the casino agreement, which will include revenue sharing and approval at the federal level in order to place the non-tribal lands in trust. The Belmont property is also partially owned by the Village of Floral Park, whose mayor, Hon. Tom Tweedy, has raised concerns about additional traffic in the area.
The Shinnecock nation will holding several community meetings in the coming weeks with the feedback and discussion being presented to Cuomo's office. You can check for casino updates online here.
To read the full story concerning the Casino's development, see the Long Island Herald's original article.
Glen Cove Piazza approved
Long Island has needed some good news lately and we got it Wednesday night when the Glen Cove City Planning Board granted approval on Jobco's plan to build Glen Cove Piazza!
Located in Village Square, the project features ground level commercial space and 3-4 stories of housing above the retail. The housing consists of 142 units of rental apartments, ranging from 750 square feet for a 1-bedroom affordable apartment to 1,200 square feet for a 2-bedroom market rate apartment. Approximately half of these units will be marketed to nearby college students. An agreement is in the works with New York Institute of Technology to rent out many of the units to medical students working on their graduate degrees. There will be 28,000 square feet of retail space for service-oriented businesses.
The community has won 6 Smart Growth Awards to date, including the Piazza’s 2011 honor for Creating a Sense of Place. Congratulations to developer Jobco and project leader Michael Puntillo Jr., a Vision Long Island Board Member. This is a well-earned victory that will bring enormous benefits to the downtown!
Aquarium celebrates opening of hotel and exhibition center
The Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center in downtown Riverhead (formerly Atlantis Marine World) celebrated the grand opening of its exhibition center and Hyatt Place hotel last month. The ribbon-cutting celebration on July 1st drew over 1,000 children and adults ready to explore the new exhibits!
Located near the center of town and as Long Island’s only aquarium, Atlantis has always been a great attraction. The new Hyatt Place Long Island/East End and the Exhibition Center are connected to the existing aquarium and were built on underutilized properties. The hotel is five stories tall and features 100 rooms over 70,000 square feet of space, while the two-story exhibit center and catering hall takes up 29,000 square feet and includes 5,000 square feet flexible gallery space. There are ten meeting spaces options available that accommodate from 40-650 people, including a tour boat, outdoor stadium and the Sea Star Ballroom.
Read some reviews in the New York Times and on hamptons.com and check out an interview with Bryan DeLuca at Riverhead Local. To see the video on the project from the 2011 Smart Growth Awards, go to Vision’s YouTube page.
Funds secured for Wyandanch Rising project
The Federal Transportation, Community and System Preservation Program this week allocated $1.95 million in funding to the Wyandanch Rising revitalization project. The project includes the construction of the Wyandanch Intermodal Plaza and Roadway Network Construction project, which will establish bus pick-up and drop-off locations as well as bike storage adjacent to the Long Island Rail Road station and the proposed Wyandanch Intermodal Facility.
According to Sen. Chuck Schumer, the creation of the plaza, along with a reconfigured roadway that will provide the street network required to re-route truck traffic out of the downtown area, would help to reduce the amount of traffic around the train station.
To learn more, check out the original article from Long Island Business News.
People’s Hearing for Long Island Bus: Over 200 riders, taxpayers, businesses and workers demand answers
Connect Long Island plan unveiled
“I’m shocked,” said Vision’s Eric Alexander, speaking at a press conference on Thursday at the unveiling of “Connect Long Island: A Regional Transportation and Development Plan” spearheaded by Town of Babylon Supervisor Steve Bellone and supported by a large group of local and regional leaders. Elected officials in attendance included Supervisor Bellone, Town of Huntington Supervisor Frank Petrone, Town of Islip Supervisor Phil Nolan, Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Mark Lesko, NYS Senator Charles Fuschillo, Village of Farmingdale Mayor George “Butch” Starkie, Village of Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri and Town of Babylon Councilman Tony Martinez. LIRR’s Elisa Picca and LI Regional Planning Council’s John Cameron also spoke.
Thursday’s press conference was held at the Multiplex Cinema on Route 110 and Conklin Street. While re-opening the nearby Republic Airport LIRR station has long been a goal of Supervisor Bellone, it had previously failed to gain traction or funding. Now, re-opening the station will be paired with several new components, including a new mixed-use center on the giant asphalt lot that currently surrounds the Multiplex. This site will become a walkable town center with a blend of retail, residential and entertainment uses. Another central piece of the plan is a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) route along the Route 110 corridor, which will provide a much-needed North-South connection for LI’s transit network. Funding for large-scale transit projects are key to the plan, including adding a second LIRR track from Farmingdale to Ronkonkoma and to the East Side Access.
The plan focuses on supporting existing and proposed transit-oriented developments and revitalization efforts in Mineola, Farmingdale, East Farmingdale, Wyandanch, Brentwood, Ronkonkoma, Copiague, Bay Shore and Patchogue. The press release for the event states, “As standalone developments these efforts are important to our region because they help address regional challenges by creating new job opportunities, strengthening small businesses, creating vibrant places attractive to young people and diversifying our housing stock. But taken together, each TOD adds to the values of the TODs to which it connects, forming a whole greater than the sum of its parts.”
Vision was also quoted in Newsday. “Eric Alexander of Vision Long Island, a smart-growth advocacy group, said with demand for housing with mass transit access growing rapidly, a plan for regional transit infrastructure was ‘visionary and logical.’” Read more in Newsday and in LI Business News.
Mixed-use project approved in Yaphank
On Tuesday night, the Brookhaven Town Board approved zoning that will allow a large mixed-use project to come to Yaphank, in a vote of 6-0 with one abstention. The Meadows at Yaphank will be located on the site of the former Parr Meadows Race Track, covering 322 acres and branding itself as a “vibrant mixed-use community.”
Developer AVR Realty plans to build 850 housing units with a mix of townhouses, condominiums and rental apartments, including 10% workforce housing. The residential section will include open space. The retail section, encompassing 327,500 square feet of stores, will cater to residential needs. According to the official website, “the larger anchor store and supermarket will have landscaped parking areas directly in front of their stores, while the smaller retailers will be located along the center boulevard, creating a downtown Main Street feel.” The office park will include 550,000 square feet of office space, designed so residents can walk to work and workers can walk to lunch or to run errands. The project also includes 5,000 square feet of restaurant space, a 220-room hotel, two baseball fields, an athletic field and a community center, as well as $4.2 million in improvements to the Dorade Sewer Treatment Plant that will service the site.
Bus advocates support continued service at the Nassau Legislature
Does Long Island need another mall?
On November 6th, more than 300 demonstrators gathered in Syosset at the site of the old Cerro Wire property to protest renewed efforts by Taubman Center, Inc. to build an upscale shopping mall on the site. The protest, held on Robbins Lane outside the fenced property, garnered such a large crowd that police were forced to temporarily shut down the two westbound lanes of traffic.
Despite a 2009 State Court of Appeals decision to uphold the Town of Oyster Bay's rejection of the $500 million development over environmental concerns, the company continues to push for the approval of the project. Taubman's Vice President of Development attended the Long Island Regional Planning Council, asking for the group to endorse it as a "project of regional significance" for the jobs and tax revenues it would create.
The Town of Oyster Bay remains split, with many saying that although it may produce revenue, the mall would increase traffic and decrease quality of life. Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto attended the rally on Sunday and said, "take this project somewhere else, where it may do good, where it may make sense. We don't need a 10-pound mall on a 5-pound piece of land."
Vision is heartened that the community is looking for an alternative to the project in the form of a Smart Growth, mixed-use development including a hotel, retail, office, senior and affordable housing.
Farmingdale Village Board votes unanimously on proposed zoning revisions
On Monday November 7th, the Village of Farmingdale Board of Trustees voted unanimously to accept and approve the Village of Farmingdale Master Plan, GEIS and code revisions. The new local zoning codes will create a mixed-use district and will allow residential units to be built over stores on Main Street.
"The downtown area in Farmingdale is ripe for jobs and business," said Chuck Gosline, a Farmingdale resident and President of Concerned Citizens Association of Farmingdale. "This is an opportunity for us to improve the area and make it better than it is now." The Nassau County Planning Commission approved the documents for local determination so the pending downtown projects can advance without further study.
Farmingdale's visioning process started in 2006, and since then, only a handful of projects have moved forward in light of three years of reviews. Hopefully, some of the long awaited downtown improvements will now move forward!
Vision’s Director Eric Alexanderwass quoted saying "it's precisely the type of planning that we need to grow our downtowns."
Read more in Newsday here.
The 10th Annual Smart Growth Summit
Over 100 presenters and 1000 regional business & community leaders convene to advance placemaking & economic development on Long Island
Freeport’s “The C” gains approval
Congratulations to “The C,” which gained zoning approval from the Freeport Zoning Board this week. A 2010 Smart Growth Award winner for compact design, this project consists of three retail ground-level units and five duplex residential upper level units. The project is an infill building, located on Guy Lombardo Avenue a few blocks from the Freeport train station.
The C serves as a great model of how to redevelop within a downtown, creating a mixed-use, concentrated and space-efficient building within a small space. It is especially successful in overcoming zoning that dates back to the 1950s.
Vision has supported this project throughout its process. Congratulations to local developer Muzzio Tallini of the Signature Organization who fought tirelessly for this project!
Regional Councils Announce Awards; Long Island wins big
Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan to create ten regions that compete for new economic development funds has turned out tremendously well for Long Island. The awards for the Regional Economic Development Councils were announced on Thursday. Long Island was selected as one of four regions with the “best plan,” and our funding will amount to $101.6 million: $61.6 million toward individual projects that were submitted through the state’s new consolidated funding application and $40 million toward implementing the LI Council’s strategic plan (which includes $25 million for the plan’s “transformative projects” and $15 million toward businesses looking to expand Excelsior tax credits).
A number of Smart Growth and downtown revitalization projects made the list, with innovative programs funded including job training efforts, energy efficiency research, expanding the IT industry, open space preservation and more. Funding includes: $6 million for the Wyandanch Rising project, $5 million for sewer improvements to accompany Village of Hempstead’s revitalization, $4 million for the Ronkonkoma Hub, $3 million for a program to promote high-tech business to relocate to downtown Hicksville, $2.5 million for road improvements to facilitate the future construction of Heartland Town Square, $2.6 million to construct 36 affordable rental units in New Cassel, $1.3 million for Concern for Independent Living’s Concern Amityville project to build 61 units of affordable housing for homeless people, $885,000 to build or rehabilitate 25 affordable homes for Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk, $500,000 to revitalize over 30 buildings and make streetscape improvements in downtown Oyster Bay and $100,000 to complete the Port Jefferson Village Harborwalk project for pedestrian access to the waterfront.
The full list of awardees is available in this report, pages 83-90 for Long Island. The Governor plans to provide another $1 billion for a second competitive process in 2012. Read the Governor’s press release, with a link to the full list of projects, here.
American Communities Institute releases initial study results at second Small Business Symposium
Over 100 small businesses convene to advance recommendations on improving the economic climate for Long Island and beyond
The American Communities Institute at Dowling College hosted its second Small Business Symposium on Monday, December 5, 2011 in Oakdale. Participants of the Symposium focused on discussing the needs of small businesses and steps necessary to improve the small business environment in the U.S., New York State, and on Long Island. The Symposium was sponsored by a grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
In his keynote speech, Congressman Steve Israel focused on the topics of helping small businesses, creating more American jobs, and extending the payroll tax break in order to stimulate the American economy. The Congressman pointed out that many items sold by souvenir shops in national parks and at national monuments are currently manufactured in China. “These items can be manufactured by small businesses here in America,” the Congressman noted. Speaking of investment in American jobs, Congressman Israel focused on the topic of infrastructure investment. Noting that China continues to heavily invest in the development of its infrastructure, the Congressman called for the increase of federal and state investments in infrastructure in order to create more American jobs and to improve our ability to move goods and people. Congressman Israel also emphasized the need for bi-partisan action to extend the payroll tax cuts in order to continue stimulating the American economy. Small businesses need more customers and the extension of the payroll tax cut would allow American workers to have more money to spend in the upcoming months.
The morning program of the symposium continued with two concurrent sessions that focused on the topics of small business policies and implementation: one on Federal and State Policies and the other on Practices and Regional and Local Policies and Practices.
The joint working session and lunch featured the presentation of selected findings and recommendations from the Small Business Study sponsored by a grant from the Small Business Administration. The study was conducted by Dr. Nathalia Rogers, the Director of the American Communities Institute, and the ACI research team that included Dr. Susanne Bleiberg Seperson, Professor of Sociology at Dowling; Dr. Edward Gullason, Professor of Economics at Dowling; and Ron Roel, Fellow at the ACI. After the presentation, Dr. Rogers moderated a working session where conference participants discussed topics of promoting downtowns as economic hubs for small businesses, and the impact of the recent home mortgage crisis on the ability of entrepreneurs, especially minority entrepreneurs, to access capital and use it to start up new businesses.
Dan Burden leads Smithtown walking tour
Monday marked the return of nationally-recognized walkability expert Dan Burden to Long Island, and what better place for him to go but the epicenter of traffic calming debates over the last few years - downtown Smithtown.
Three pedestrians have been struck by a car and killed at the same intersection -- Main Street and Lawrence Avenue -- since 2009. Balancing the desires of the community and the plans of the DOT have been contentious, with notable changes to date including a long fence along a stretch of Main Street to separate cars and pedestrians, as well as audible crosswalks.
A full day of activities on Monday began as Burden met local DOT officials to do a preliminary walk-through and debriefing on the needs and potential for the area. Later that afternoon, a large group of elected officials, advocates, residents and press took part in a walk-through and presentation of the recommendations. Vision helped organize and participated in the full day along with AARP, Tri-State Transportation Campaign and the Greater Smithtown Chamber of Commerce.
Vision’s Elissa Ward to be honored with '40 Under 40' award
Congratulations to Vision’s Elissa Ward, who was selected to receive one of this year’s Long Island Business News “40 Under 40” Awards! A gala will take place on January 26th from 6-10pm at the Crest Hollow Country Club to honor the awardees.
Though she has worked with Vision as a consultant for many years, Elissa formally joined the Vision Long Island team in 2009 as Sustainability Director. As a LEED AP, she helps keep the organization connected to environmental issues such as green building, carbon reduction, habitat and open space preservation and water quality protection. In addition, she provides technical assistance through the review of development proposals and road projects through a Smart Growth lens. She focuses in community design, most recently helping to organize a community planning process in Hicksville to revitalize its downtown area.
The Vision team congratulates Elissa on this terrific honor!
Metro 303 project bringing new housing to Hempstead Village
Mill Creek Residential Trust, the developer who led the West Hempstead Courtesy Hotel renovation/TOD project, has unveiled a new housing project currently under construction in Hempstead. Metro 303 is located on a 1.8-acre infill parcel located at the northern end of the Village of Hempstead, bordering Garden City. The transit-oriented site is within easy walking distance to two Long Island Rail Road stations. The site is also within walking distance to two Village downtowns - Hempstead and Garden City.
The Metro 303 development will include 166 upscale apartment rental homes in one five-story podium-style building, including four residential levels over two levels of garage parking (one level on-grade and one level located below-grade). The building design will include a combination of masonry and siding facades, decorative panels and railings, large windows, balconies and gabled asphalt shingle roofs. There will also be sidewalks with new street lighting and landscaping. Developers are confident that the project will achieve LEED Silver certification.
The building will also feature approximately 4,500 square feet of amenity and administrative space, including two landscaped courtyards, resort-style swimming pool with sun-deck and clubhouse. The building will offer a choice of one-, two- and three bedroom floorplans.
Read more on Mill Creek Residential Trust’s website here.
Summer Wind Square holds groundbreaking ceremony
After clearing the site of derelict properties over the last several weeks, Summer Wind Square in Riverhead officially broke ground last week. A ceremony was held on December 8th, with county and town officials present as well as local business owners and Vision.
Summer Wind Square, a 2010 Smart Growth Award winning project for housing located on Peconic Avenue, is a 52-unit mixed use rental community that will include a 100 seat restaurant and 5,700 square feet of retail/commercial space on the first floor of the four-story complex. The project will include workforce housing, and the four-story building is expected to take 10 months to complete.
The 8,600 square-foot development was made possible, and affordable, through a $1.96 million land acquisition by Suffolk, as well as $313,000 in nearby infrastructure improvements. Of those infrastructure improvements, there will be $50,000 for a pedestrian crosswalk to Grangabel Park, across Peconic Avenue from the new apartments; $87,350 for a new walkway, driveway and renovations to the East End Arts property a short walk from Summer Wind Square; $90,000 for floating docks and a boat storage facility on the Peconic River waterfront; and $99,500 to help build an all-season ice skating rink in the municipal parking lot just east of the property.
Coventry Gardens approved in Central Islip
On December 21st, the Islip Town Board unanimously voted to approve Coventry Gardens, a 284-unit housing development in Central Islip, along with an exciting public benefits package.
Coventry Gardens, developed by Jobco, redevelops the old Central Islip Psychiatric Hospital site into 100 rental and 184 for-sale townhouse units, with buildings standing at two stories tall. The project has a unique and robust public benefits package which includes over $1 million to fund downtown improvements, parks, a new firehouse and restoring the historic firehouse into a community center. An additional fund, of $500,000 to $2 million, will support the acquisition and rehabilitation of neighboring foreclosed homes to stabilize the existing community, which would be run through the LI Housing Partnership.
During the public hearing, comments were predominately supportive, with residents running 10 in favor, 4 opposed and 2 with questions. Vision testified in support of the project, as well. Public input from the first hearing made the project better. Job well done to the Town's Planning Department, members of the Town Board, Jobco, the Central Islip Civic Council and many others for shaping this plan.
To our Smart Growth supporters,
Without a doubt, 2011 has been the most successful year for the Smart Growth movement on Long Island. Progress has ranged from large-scale policy changes like the NYS Complete Streets law to the smallest-scale local project approvals like The “C” in Freeport. Community visioning projects have also advanced across the Island. Dozens of mixed-use projects have been designed, approved or built in the past 12 months. And local elected officials have demonstrated enormous leadership in pushing Smart Growth ideas forward.
The Smart Growth movement on Long Island is supported by a collective group of residents, business owners, environmentalists, young people and others just like yourself who are concerned with local land use patterns, downtown revitalization, infrastructure investments, safe streets and neighborhood vitality.
We hope you will consider making an end-of-year contribution to Vision Long Island, so that we can continue to work effectively for progress in communities across Long Island.
Vision Long Island is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization and relies on donations to run programs and work in communities. With your contribution, you can assist the Smart Growth movement and help put principles into practice. We are asking our friends and partners to each donate as little as $50-$100 this holiday season. It’s tax deductible and, with a large enough grassroots participation level, these donations will help our organization thrive in 2012.
Let’s keep up the good work, but acknowledge that it’s not enough. We have a long, uphill battle in front of us as we work to reverse the impacts of sprawl and create a sustainable future. Some of our biggest challenges of 2011, ranging from funding the Long Island Bus system and moving forward redevelopment at the Nassau Hub, will continue to be challenges in 2012.
With your community spirit and financial support, we continue to fight these battles and we know we can win.
Please donate today online here or email or mail in the donation form below.
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