19th Annual Long Island Smart Growth Awards Held Virtually

We gather community, business, and government leaders online to
reward downtown and infrastructure projects across Long Island

Better late than never – the Coronavirus shutdown had postponed this year’s LI Smart Growth Awards to Thursday September 3rd at noon.

Vision Long Island has been delivering the Awards to the honorees at their project locations throughout the last month and we were excited to hold the virtual program to bring everyone together.  We have some fantastic honorees with projects planned, under construction, or completed in 25 communities across Long Island that cover two cities, 10 villages, and six towns.

This year’s event recognized several developers and supportive municipalities, including:

Terwilliger & Bartone and the Village of Lynbrook for the Cornerstone at Yorkshire

Greenview Properties and the Town of Islip for Westbrook Village in Great River

G2D Development and the Town of Oyster Bay for WorkSmart in Hicksville

Southern Land Company for its Garden City apartments with affordable housing

D&F Development and the Town of Hempstead for the Village Green assisted living community

The Gitto Group and the Village of Port Jefferson for The Brookport mixed-use project

The Town of Huntington and George Tsunis for Hampton Inn Huntington

The Village of Westbury for their TOD zoning Master Plan and code

The Town of Hempstead and Cameron Engineering for TOD zoning in Inwood and Lawrence

Conifer Realty & the Town of Southold for Vineyard View affordable housing development

The Village of Lindenhurst and Greenman-Pedersen Inc. for their work on walkability and revitalizing their downtown

The Village of Sea Cliff for their bike and pedestrian improvements

The MLK Community Center in Long Beach for their decades of work at revitalizing communities.
We will also honor:

Don Monti of Renaissance Downtowns for Regional Leadership as one of the first developers focused on placemaking and community participation

The Split the Bill NY program of the Sidgmore Family Foundation for Regional Leadership bringing resources to local downtown restaurants through the pandemic.

Major Charles Roberts of the Hempstead Salvation Army for Community Leadership for his long history in providing food, housing and programs for some of the neediest community members.

All of these projects were planned with the local community and had more support than opposition at their multiple hearings. They serve as a model for the types of projects, plans and leadership that will need to be in place as we work toward needed economic recovery.

Here are a few quotes about the virtual event:

“Despite the changes that have come with this year, there are so many folks that have not wavered in their commitment to Long Island.  Vision Long Island is proud to spotlight these important people and projects that have done so much to add to the fabric of our community.  Congratulations to our deserving honorees in 2020, you’ve really made a difference.” – Tawaun Weber, Assistant Director, Vision Long Island

“Even though this year’s award presentation may have been different than previous years, there was still a fantastic group of people and projects to honor.  Vision was happy to showcase the rezoning projects, walkability programs, diversity of housing projects, community leaders, and others that were deserving of these awards.  Being able to present the awards on site and share that experience with the public was particularly enjoyable.” – Elissa Kyle, Placemaking Director, Vision Long Island

We would like to thank our 2020 Smart Growth Awards Sponsors.

Congratulations To This Year’s
istinguished Honorees:

TOD Rezoning Project
Village of Westbury

Thursday, August 6th, found Vision Long Island at Westbury Village Hall to present the 2020 Vision Long Island Smart Growth Award for Transit Oriented Development to the Village of Westbury for its TOD Rezoning Project. The Village passed sweeping changes to its zoning code that allows for more transit-oriented development (TOD) for the approximately 50 acres of land next to the Westbury LIRR station.

Eric Alexander, Vision Long Island’s Executive Director, began the presentation by reminding everyone, “Westbury has done so much through the years with respect to transit oriented development, and it shows.”  Regarding this award, and why it is so noteworthy, Mr. Alexander stated, “The Village received dollars from the Downtown Revitalization Initiative from NYS, they did a comprehensive planning effort, involving the residents, small businesses, property owners and the development community. Bringing all these pieces of the puzzle together led to an excellent plan.”

“What really makes this project stand out,” explained Elissa Kyle, Vision’s Sustainability Director, “is that it is tailored to the unique conditions in Westbury.” She noted, “It is a compliment, not competition, to the Post Avenue area.”

Westbury Village Mayor Peter Cavallaro, Second Deputy Mayor Beaumont Jefferson, and Trustee Bill Wise accepted this award on behalf of the Village. “The Village has been working on revitalization for over a decade,” Mayor Cavallaro noted. “We have created over 800 units of different types of multi-unit housing. This project is exciting because it’s going to allow us to take those redevelopment efforts to the next level. It has the potential to be transformative.”

“We took 52 acres of underutilized property near the train station and we rezoned it and created a comprehensive state-of-the-art transit-oriented TOD zoning code,” Mayor Cavallaro stated. “It’s meant to be turn key rezoning. It’s meant to allow developers to come in, put together a project, consult with the Village to decide what is right for that property, and then streamline the process. It provides densities and other aspects that are generous in allowing a proper balance between developers that need to make a return and community that wants to redevelop land that needs to be redeveloped.”

“Our intent is to make Westbury’s downtown the most attractive downtown in all of Long Island,” Mayor Cavallaro concluded. “This project allows us to do just that.”

Legislator Laura Schaefer defined the project as innovative, forward thinking, and logical zoning that will move Westbury forward.

You can watch the video of the award ceremony here.


Hampton Inn, Huntington
George Tsunis, Chartwell Hotels

Monday, August 10th, found Vision Long Island in beautiful downtown Huntington, more specifically the old Huntington Town Hall, which is now the future home of Hampton Inn & Suites, to present the 2020 Vision Long Island Smart Growth Award for Strengthening Communities to hometown hotel developer George Tsunis.

The old Town Hall, dating back to 1910, is one of several civic center pieces in Huntington which has fallen into disrepair. Throughout the years, the question of what should be done with this property has lingered. The answer came in the form of a 24 million dollar, 80 room hotel project which is expected to yield at least 100 construction jobs and 14 permanent jobs for Long Islanders.

According to Vision Long Island’s Director, Eric Alexander, “This property will get transformed into a destination, into really a need. With 70 restaurants, theaters, all kinds of activities and retail, there is not a hotel here, well now there will be and we are excited about that today.”

Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce president, Vita Scaturro, was present during the award ceremony to speak to the significance of this project. “Along with creating economic development, this project will create jobs, improve our downtown and make our town even more beautiful than it already is,” Ms. Scaturro stated.

Noting that every successful project not only needs strong resident and chamber support, but also strong municipal local leadership, Mr. Alexander introduced Huntington Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci to discuss the project. “We have the best downtown area on Long Island, or even in the entire state. In order to tie everything together we needed a hotel in downtown Huntington,” Supervisor Lupinacci stated. Noting all the wonderful elements in Huntington, from the Paramount, to Heckscher Park, he concluded, “The compliment of having a hotel where people from far and near could spend a few nights and invest back into the community is very important.”

Both Ms. Scaturro and Supervisor Lupinacci congratulated and thanked Mr. Tsunis, and the team he put together, for their commitment to redeveloping this property, while promising to preserve its rich history.

Describing Mr. Tsunis, Mr. Alexander said not only is he the type of builder who is going to build the right product, he is also the type of developer who not only has a vision for downtown, but for all of Long Island. “There is that sense of philanthropy, that sense of caring for community and sticking with a project,” Mr. Alexander explained.

Accepting the award, Mr. Tsunis said, “It was once said it takes a village and there is no village on Long Island like Huntington.” Calling himself a Huntingtonian, Mr. Tsunis stated that the Village has gotten the balance between intelligent development, conservation, and vibrancy right. Discussing the hotel project, he labelled it the most adept, historic, re-adaptation in all of Huntington. The building will have new life. Mr. Tsunis thanked the Huntington Town Board, especially Supervisor Lupinacci for giving his team the opportunity to give this property new adaptive reuse. Noting that the town was uncompromising on the point that the project must be stunningly beautiful, Mr. Tsunis thanked the Town for holding his feet to the fire to see that the project be done the right way.  

“We are going to have what I think will be the most beautiful hotel in all of Long Island,” Mr. Tsunis concluded. Construction will start shortly and it is hoped that the hotel will open sometime next year.

You can watch the video of the award ceremony here.


Cornerstone at Yorkshire
Village of Lynbrook, Terwilliger & Bartone

Thursday afternoon, August 6th, Vision Long Island traveled to the Village of Lynbrook to present the 2020 Vision Long Island Smart Growth Award for Revitalizing Communities to developers Terwilliger & Bartone and the Village of Lynbrook for the Cornerstone at Yorkshire apartment complex project at the old site of the controversial Capri Lynbrook Motor Inn.

Expected completion in spring of 2021, this complex is located less than half a mile from the train station and downtown Lynbrook, thus promoting walkability, green transportation and a healthy lifestyle. Joining Eric Alexander, Vision Long Island’s Executive Director, was Anthony Bartone of Terwilliger & Bartone Properties, Lynbrook Mayor Alan Beach, Deputy Mayor Michael Hawxhurst, Trustee Ann Marie Reardon and Lynbrook Chamber of Commerce president Steve Wangel.

Mr. Alexander, describing the importance of this project, stated, “We are at the site of a motel that people didn’t want to have around. They are now making it multi family housing, driven by the community and guided by the good work of the Village of Lynbrook.” He underscored, “What we like is the connection of best practices guided by local communities, that’s what really matters. You get the best marriages out of that mix and that’s what we have here.”

“There were issues on this site.” Mr. Alexander continued. “We like to see redevelopment transform communities. We like to see the public plugged into the planning process, there were public meetings to guide this project. We like to see adjacent uses come to life. We also like to see development that fuels local downtowns. The revitalization here does all this. Lynbrook has done a great job.”

Introducing Steve Wangler, Lynbrook Chamber of Commerce president, Mr. Alexander stated, “Any project not supported by a local civic and a local chamber is usually not worth its salt. In this case, the Chamber has hit a drumbeat for revitalization for years.” Mr. Wangler echoed those sentiments and discussed the importance of this project to the community. “What started out as a no tell motel is going to wind up being a luxury rental that’s bringing new people into the community; a demographic that loves to shop locally; a demographic that will really enhance our community. I can’t say enough about this project.”

Accepting the award for Terwilliger & Bartone Properties, partner Anthony Bartone echoed what time and time again has been the most important lesson learned in good development and redevelopment projects, “A project is doomed for failure if you don’t have the support and buy in from the chamber and the civics.” Mr. Bartone expressed, on behalf of his whole team, what an honor it is to receive this award.

Lynbrook Mayor Alan Beach accepted the award on behalf of the Village and emphasized there are so many people who deserve credit for this project, including the entire Village Board. It was a long process, and the communication between the developer and the community was crucial. “I want to thank the people of the Village for their support,” Mayor Beach stated. “This new Cornerstone building will compliment our Village.”

You can watch a video of the award ceremony here.


The Brookport
Village of Port Jefferson, The Gitto Group

Wednesday, August 12th, Vision Long Island staff and board members traveled to the Village of Port Jefferson for stop number 8 of the 2020 Vision Long Island Smart Growth Award tour to present the Mix of Uses award to the Gitto Group and the Village of Port Jefferson in recognition of The Brookport, a new mixed-use apartment building being developed at 440 Main Street, the former site of Cappy’s Carpets, a long time Port Jefferson business.

The 65,300-square-foot, three story building will have stores, office space and a restaurant on the first floor and two floors of apartments above. The development will incorporate 44 units and amenities for residents, including a roof-top deck, fitness center, outdoor courtyard with fire pits and barbecues, and a community room. Foundations are in place and the outer walls are beginning to take shape. The project should be completed by summer 2021.

“We are talking about a mix of residential and commercial uses on a Main Street and that’s exactly what this project is,” explained Eric Alexander, Vision Long Island’s Director. “It’s a companion piece to what is a fantastic destination. There are great opportunities here as a destination, but also for living.”

James Tullo, Brookhaven Industrial Development Agency Deputy Director, was on hand to support both the project and award. “We are very proud to not only help provide housing and mix-use for the Village of Port Jefferson, but also to be able to continue to create jobs and do the things that are necessary from an industrial development agency standpoint; to continue to move forward and revitalize certain areas, villages, and downtowns that really need to undergo certain types of revitalization.”

Explaining how important political leadership is to get anything done on Long Island, Mr. Alexander introduced Village of Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant. “Not only is she bold enough to advance projects, she has a vision, she put a masterplan together and works with the public consistently,” he stated.

Mayor Garant, talking about this vision, stated, “The desired vision is to create safe, affordable housing for the younger generation in a vibrant, downtown Port Jefferson community.” Referring to Village government, Mayor Garant noted, “They are aware of the importance of getting projects like this done; the importance of being an economic engine, providing beautiful new housing, and mixed use opportunity. We want to make sure we always have a retail component to keep our Main Street vibrant and alive. We welcome this project.”

Upon accepting the award, Rob Gitto, vice president of the Port Jefferson-based Gitto Group said, three or four years ago, he walked over from his office and asked Peter Capobianco, owner of the property, if he would ever be interested in redeveloping his site. “I asked him the question and he said ‘Sure, let’s see if it makes sense,’ and here we are today.” He added, “We are excited to be a part of it with him and thank him for allowing us to partner with him on this project.”

After thanking the Village, the Brookhaven IDA and Vision Long Island, Mr. Gitto stated, “We are excited about this project. We are going to extend the Main Street of Port Jefferson further south. It’s going to be a special project; it’s going to be better than anything seen in the area.”
Vision Long Island would like to congratulate the honorees, the Gitto Group and the Village of Port Jefferson, on receiving this well-deserved award.

You can watch a video of the award ceremony here.


Worksmart Hicksville
Town of Oyster Bay, G2D Development

Monday, August 17th, Vision Long Island traveled to Hicksville for stop number 11 of the 2020 Vision Long Island Smart Growth Award tour to present the Revitalizing Communities award to G2D Development and the Town of Oyster Bay for the WorkSmart project in downtown Hicksville.

WorkSmart, located at 35 Broadway, is a Coworking Office Space which allows professionals to work together in a common community. The workspace, which has transformed a vacant downtown office building, is adjacent to the LIRR allowing for a quick express train to NYC. It offers small businesses and entrepreneurs furnished office space with flexible terms, private offices, dedicated workstations, collaborative spaces, and conference rooms. Eighteen apartments span the upper floors, including three studios, three one bedrooms, and twelve two bedrooms. Building amenities include a landscaped roof-deck and on-site Wellness Center.

“Hicksville is a really special community,” stated Eric Alexander, Director of Vision Long Island. “This is a downtown that is revitalizing thanks to this project we are honoring here today.”  He noted, “We have spent a lot of time with the Hicksville Downtown Revitalization Committee trying to get projects like WorkSmart going.” Elissa Kyle, Vision Long Island’s Sustainability Director, piloted this pursuit on behalf of Vision, along with the Hicksville Chamber of Commerce, the Hicksville Community Council and many other local groups.

“When we started working with the Hicksville Community back in the winter of 2010,” Ms. Kyle explained, “this building, which is in the core of downtown, right by the train station, across from a park, was vacant. Getting life and vitality into this building, people and activity on the sidewalk, is part of what can help spread revitalization to other properties around this area and beyond.”

Greg DeRosa and Alison DeRosa, of the G2D Group, were on hand to describe the award-winning project and to accept the award. Greg DeRosa stated, “This was a vacant building that we were able to convert to 18 apartments and a shared WorkSmart office concept on the first floor. It is starting to show a lot of demand based on what is happening in Manhattan and the five boroughs. We are seeing a lot of people coming out to Long Island.” He continued, “We would like to thank the Town of Oyster Bay for its support of this project. We think that this project will be one step forward in a major effort to increase the vibrancy and the appeal of downtown Hicksville.”

“This project has gone very well,” Alison DeRosa added. “Our apartments are fully occupied. We have a waiting list and hopefully we will have other projects like this to serve and support the community.”

“Clearly we have a project that is working,” Mr. Alexander stated. “At the hearings for this project there was no opposition. There has been support from the IDA, the Hicksville Downtown Revitalization Committee, even state government. Shepherding that support, leading and managing the town through challenging times, has been Joe Saladino, Supervisor of the Town of Oyster Bay, along with the Town Council, who kept this project going.”

Accepting the Revitalizing Communities award on behalf of the town of Oyster Bay, Supervisor Saladino stated, “I would like to thank Eric Alexander and his team for their vision for Long Island. It has been exceptional far and near, especially here in Hicksville. I also want to thank and congratulate Greg DeRosa and Alison DeRosa for their foresight, knowing the type of project that is cutting edge, state of art and the type of project the public wants.” Supervisor Saladino also thanked the town’s team that helped put this together. “We are so proud to be part of all the revitalization in downtown Hicksville.”

“Communities across Long Island will use this project as a template. It is a prime location, just a mere walk to the railroad in Hicksville. It meets all the criteria to create a renaissance in downtown Hicksville.” The Supervisor continued, “It’s the best of the best of transit-oriented development and offers what millennials to empty nesters desire, a new mixed-use home near public transportation, shopping, fine restaurants, entertainment, and all that Long Island has to offer.”

Vision would like to thank G2D Development and the Town of Oyster Bay on receiving this well-deserved award. Vision Long Island’s 2020 virtual LI Smart Growth Awards will be held on September 3rd at noon.

You can watch the award presentation here.


Lindenhurst Walkability Study
Village of Lindenhurst,
Greenman-Pedersen Inc.

Tuesday, August 18th, Vision Long Island traveled to the Village of Lindenhurst for stop number 12 of the 2020 Vision Long Island Smart Growth Award tour to present the Revitalizing Communities award to Greenman-Pederson, Inc. and the Village of Lindenhurst in recognition of the Downtown Lindenhurst Walkability Improvement Study.

The Village of Lindenhurst has embraced the notion of a revitalized downtown. The Downtown Walkability Improvement Study, enabled by a grant from Suffolk County, has played a crucial role in this endeavor. Improving walkability goes far beyond building or widening sidewalks. It relates to all transportation modes and, therefore, includes improvements to the cycling infrastructure and network, public transit and car use.

The Village of Lindenhurst selected Greenman-Pedersen, Inc. (GPI), a Long Island-based transportation planning and engineering firm, to develop the walkability study. GPI placed high emphasis on not just informing, but properly engaging citizens and stakeholders in the study process. With the help of the Lindenhurst Economic Development Committee, the Lindenhurst Village Board unanimously adopted the Downtown Walkability Improvement Study on August 13th, 2019.

“These honorees are being acknowledged for their work on walkability,” stated Eric Alexander, Director of Vision Long Island. “This is more important than ever with coronavirus. More people are out walking and biking and they need safe spaces to do so… All their hard work has led to new restaurants, new development and safe walking and biking in the Village.”

“Walkability is a key component in revitalizing a downtown,” stated Frank Wefering of Greenman-Pedersen. “How to engage the community was important. We conducted a lot of walk audits, at least six, we held mobility events and public meetings. The community is really on board and supporting this. Overall, it’s a great project and it’s hopefully a blueprint for other towns and villages on Long Island.”

Elissa Kyle, Vision Long Island’s Sustainability Director, affirmed, “This project went above and beyond where a lot of villages go as far as trying to improve walkability, going beyond just safety, but also quality of life issues, making places safe for people.” She continued, “This project looked holistically at the whole Village and asked how do we make it so people feel comfortable and safe walking around.”

“We are really excited to be here,” Village of Lindenhurst Trustee R.J. Renna stated. “When I got on the Village Board, Mayor Mike Lavorata said let’s provide a plan, a blueprint, for the Village to move forward. One of our first steps in achieving that was our walkability study.” Trustee Renna noted, “We are working with Greenman-Pedersen on our masterplan which has just been completed. We are ready to take Lindenhurst to the next level.”

Deputy Mayor Maryann Weckerle explained, “We are thankful and grateful to Vision Long Island for this award, to working with the great Greenman-Pedersen, to all the sponsors of this award, to all the organizations we work with, the Chamber of Commerce, the BID, and this fantastic administration.”

Congratulations to all. Vision Long Island’s 2020 virtual LI Smart Growth Awards will be held on September 3rd at noon.

You can watch the award presentation here.


555 Stewart Ave, Garden City
Southern Land Company

Wednesday, August 26th, Vision Long Island traveled to the Village of Garden City for stop number 14 of the 2020 Long Island Smart Growth Award tour to present the Housing Choices award to the Southern Land Company for its rental development project at 555 Stewart Avenue, Garden City.

This past month, Garden City Village Board of Trustees unanimously approved the final site plan submitted by the Southern Land Company for the construction of a 150-unit residence, that will include two buildings at four stories each, inclusive of 15 affordable housing units, located at 555 Stewart Ave. This project consists of 66 one-bedroom units, 72 two-bedroom units and 12 three-bedroom units. The 4.65 acre site, located on the north side of Stewart Avenue, has been vacant for decades. 

“Today we are in the Village of Garden City with a very unique project,” Eric Alexander, Director of Vision Long Island, stated. “We are talking about affordable housing in the Village of Garden City, which hasn’t happened in my life time.” 

“This award focuses on housing choices. Long Island has struggled with getting affordable housing in communities, particularly the Village of Garden City which has not built affordable housing in decades,” Mr. Alexander explained. “We are excited to see this development by Southern Land Company incorporate affordable housing, at all different levels of affordability, to get built with a significantly positive design, with a mix of incomes in the project.” 

Family-owned and operated, Southern Land Company is a national multifamily firm, responsible for more than $3 billion a year in ground-up multifamily development and more than 500 single-family homes annually. They are now building on Long Island. 

Accepting the award on behalf of Southern Land was Long Island native Joe Rossi, the company’s Northeast director of acquisitions. Describing the project, Mr. Rossi stated, “555 Stewart Avenue is a 4.65-acre parcel of property. It once was the Roosevelt Field Airfield, then it was owned by Newsday for a long time, and most recently by the Hematian family.” He stated, “We are planning to build 150 free market apartments, with a 10% affordable component which will be broken up into three different sectors of area median income (AMI), 40%, 60%, and 80%, with an additional two units above that are at 120% AMI, which is considered workforce housing.” All this guarantees the affordability piece of this project is truly affordable. 

“This is a great project,” Mr. Rossi stated. “The Village of Garden City has been wonderful working with us, with the affordable component as well. It’s a project we look forward to building. It will be a nice place to live and we hope to create a sense of community for everyone.” The project is about two months away from breaking ground. 

You can view the award ceremony here.


Vineyard View, Greenport
Town of Southold, Conifer Realty

Wednesday, August 12th, Vision Long Island staff and board members traveled to Greenport for stop number 7 of the 2020 Vision Long Island Smart Growth Award tour to present a Housing Choices Award to Conifer Realty, LLC and the Town of Southold in recognition of the completion of Vineyard View, a brand-new, energy efficient, apartment community featuring 50 multifamily affordable apartments. Vineyard View includes seven buildings containing 14 one-bedroom, 22 two-bedroom and 14 three-bedroom apartments on a 17.2-acre site on County Road 48 in Greenport. The development offers a playground, a clubhouse, featuring a great room, fitness center, and laundry room.

“This affordable housing project is so needed for the region, for the Town of Southold and for the community,” stated Eric Alexander, Vision Long Island’s Director. “On this Island, housing choices is the biggest challenge and this year we have three honorees that are addressing this significant need.” Conifer Reality, to its great credit, has built multiple projects on Long Island and Vision has supported them all, from Coram, to Copiague, to Riverhead. With an eye towards protecting the environment, while providing affordable units in the Town of Southold, which is difficult due to rising housing prices, Conifer has been effective in meeting these challenges.”

Accepting the award for Conifer was Sam Leone, Senior Vice President of Development. Mr. Leone remarked that Conifer has been both developing on Long Island and owning and managing affordable apartments for fifteen years. “We are proud to be here,” Mr. Leone stated. “We are proud to have found this site and to have worked collectively with the community to provide 50 more affordable apartments in this area.” Half of the units are affordable at 50% area median income and half are affordable at 60% area median income.

“We are proud and honored to have been able to work with the Town of Southold to help provide more affordable options here on Long Island,” Mr. Leone concluded.

Also, in attendance for this award presentation was Vision board member and principal at Trinity Solar, Michael Passantino. Vision Long Island would like to congratulate the honorees, Conifer Realty and the Town of Southold, on receiving this well-deserved award.


Lawrence / Inwood TOD Zoning
Hon. Bruce Blakeman, Town of Hempstead, Cameron Engineering

Thursday, August 11th, Vision Long Island made its fifth stop on its 2020 Smart Growth Award presentation tour, making its way to Inwood to present the Transit Oriented Development Award to the Honorable Bruce Blackman and Cameron Engineering & Associates, LLP for the Inwood/Lawrence TOD Zoning initiative.

In May of 2019, the Town of Hempstead, by unanimous vote, established three distinct zoning districts in the communities of Lawrence and Inwood. The zones allow for dense transit-oriented-development by the train station where current industrial use exists, while also creating a mixed-use district and a residential townhouse zone closer to the single-family homes.

Eric Alexander, Vision Long Island’s Director, began the presentation by acknowledging the work of Hempstead Councilman Blakeman who led the charge to mobilize local participation and Cameron Engineering for shaping and drafting the plan utilizing community input.

Neal Lewis, director of the Sustainability Institute at Molloy College and Vision Long Island board member was on hand to give testament to this significant project. Mr. Lewis enthusiastically stated, “Good things are happening across Long Island and it’s these kinds of projects we want to lift up.” Plans like this, he noted, enhance quality of life on Long Island.

Representing Cameron Engineering was planner Dave Tepper, who has been with the firm for eight years. “We have worked on several rezoning initiatives and this project really stood out, going above and beyond a lot of the projects we have worked on,” Mr. Tepper stated. Referring to this plan as transformational, he stressed the fact that this project creates meaningful affordable units. He highlighted that built into the code is a preference for locals, first responders and veterans. Additionally, a streetscape initiative will be part of the zoning code, which embraces widening and beautification of the corridors.

Mr. Alexander stressed the importance of political leadership when it comes to leading the way on good projects. “For years Councilman Blakeman took this project on his back and took this plan out to the community,” Mr. Alexander explained. “The Councilman worked collaboratively with the community and that’s when change occurs.”

Reaffirming it was a collaborative effort, Councilman Blakeman thanked Vision LI and Neil Lewis for their support and leadership when it comes to this project, Cameron Engineering for being great partners and the entire Hempstead Town Board and Town Staff. The Councilman also thanked community stakeholders, including the Inwood Civic Association, the local fire departments, the Lawrence Village Board, the Cedarhurst Village Board, the MTA, NICE Bus, Nassau County Police Department, NYS and NYC Departments of Transportation. “I accept the award on behalf of all of them.”

About the plan, the Councilman stated, “We wanted to create a vibrant village, a middle class district, a transportation oriented district where people would get out of their cars, shop locally, take the train into the city for their commute, and create a community that is beautiful, environmentally sensitive and one that’s commercially viable.” He added, “This will be a model for other communities. Let’s get it built.”

Vision applauds the Honorable Bruce Blakeman and Cameron Engineering for their work on this transformative project.

You can watch a video of the award ceremony here.


Westbrook Village, Great River
Town of Islip, Greenview Properties

The 2020 Smart Growth Award for Mix of Uses is presented to Greenview Properties and the Town of Islip for Westbrook Village, Great River. “This award,” according to Eric Alexander, Vision Long Island’s Executive Director, “is called Mix of Uses and is important. Here, we are talking about planning different developments together.”

This development marries Westbrook Green, Villas at Westbrook Village and Westbrook Village. Westbrook Green is a 55+ senior community, featuring 2-bedroom garden style apartments. Amenities include a two-story clubhouse, fitness center, outdoor heated pool, lounge area, bocce courts, and dog park. The Villas at Westbrook Village is a condo and single-family home development. This 55+ community enjoys a total of 100 units. Amenities include heated pool, yoga room, billiard room, fitness center and clubhouse with kitchen, media area, dining & patios. Westbrook Village features 1 and 2 bedroom, no age restriction, apartments. Amenities include a clubhouse, fitness center, outdoor pool, lounge area, bocce courts, dog park and playground.

This urban and garden style development offers access to parkways, MacArthur Airport, Long Island Railroad, entertainment, shopping, restaurants, golf courses, Bayard Cutting Arboretum, Connetquot State Park, beaches, and educational facilities.

Developer Greenview Properties focuses on smart growth revitalization in downtown urban areas, rental neighborhoods, condominiums and mixed-use and senior housing communities. Larry Gargano, President of Greenview Properties explains, “Our development division focuses on redevelopment sites that are blighted or underutilized, and we target those locations and reposition them for better land use.” 

Greenview Properties’ goal is to provide Long Island with great neighborhoods. To reach this goal Greenview incorporates meeting with community residents and stakeholders, giving back to community, such as upgrading residents’ recreational resources, and working closely with local government. The Town of Islip has been a valuable partner in this mixed-use residential development.

Village Green, Levittown
D&F DevelopmentTown of Hempstead

Tuesday, August 11th, found Vision Long Island in Levittown for stop number 6 of the 2020 Vision Long Island Smart Growth Award tour to present the Housing Choices Award to D&F Development and the Town of Hempstead in recognition of the new assisted living facility, Village Green Senior Living.  

The location, 100 Schoolhouse Road, is the site of the former North Levittown Lanes bowling alley. This new community will not only afford traditional assisted living to its residents, but also a memory care neighborhood. The property, owned by D&F Development Group, hopes to open the facility this November. There will be 103 beds, with approximately sixty or so people employed, with plans to hire more workers after a few years of operation.

The Village Green will offer activities for residents and provide transportation when needed. There will be restaurant-style dining, which fosters independence, a library, computer lab and a workout room. There will also be a focus on physical therapy and occupational therapy.

Eric Alexander, Vision Long Island’s Director, discussing this project stated, “What is exciting about this project is that it is transforming a former derelict property; the developers worked with the public in creating the plan; and it is designed in a way that adds character to the local community while providing housing options so people can stay in the community.”

Referring to D&F, Mr. Alexander stated, “These developers have found a way to get affordable housing projects built with a level of excellence that communities really rally around.”

Neal Lewis, executive director of the Sustainability Institute at Molloy College and Vision Long Island board member was on hand to recognize this great project. “Long Island needs a diversity of housing,” Mr. Lewis acknowledged. “What we are seeing here today is one in great demand,” he stated, but was quick to add, “The need is great if the project is good. I am very supportive of today’s event.”

Elissa Kyle, Vision Long Island’s Sustainability Director, noted that it is not only important to have different housing at different price points in a community, but also different types of housing for different stages of life, whether people are just out of college, starting a family, or as they get older, a place to downsize.   

Partners in D&F Development, Peter Florey and Leonard D’Amico, spoke about their project. Mr. D’Amico reminded those gathered this plan had been seven years in the making. He stated when he and Peter saw the ability to reuse an existing facility to again meet the needs of the community, they thought it was a fabulous opportunity.  

Partner Peter Florey stated, in designing the community, they spent a lot of time getting their neighbors’ input. “It was valuable time spent because they offered us insight on how this project would best be put together.” He noted there was concern about height, so they ended up building a two-story building, with a three-story courtyard. The community input worked out very well Mr. Florey concluded.

You can watch a video of the award ceremony here.


MLK Community Center, Long Beach

Thursday, August 13th, Vision Long Island traveled to the City of Long Beach for stop number 10 of the 2020 Vision Long Island Smart Growth Award tour to present the Revitalizing Communities award to the MLK Community Center.

The MLK Community Center, a community-based organization that has operated out of its Riverside Boulevard location since 1982, is committed to improving the health, human welfare, and educational attainment of underserved youth, families, and individuals in the Long Beach community. The organization sponsors innovative programming and support services, including cultural enrichment, youth empowerment, and hands-on learning opportunities. Programs also include recreational activities, STEM Education, recidivism training and a variety of adult/senior programs.

“We are so excited to be at the MLK Community Center today,” stated Eric Alexander, Vision Long Island’s Director. “This Center has been the centerpiece of this neighborhood within Long Beach for so long, whether helping during Hurricane Sandy, the Coronavirus, or administering to its many other community services.”

In attendance at the presentation was Michael Passantino, Vision Long Island board member and principal at Trinity Solar. Mr. Passantino congratulated MLK Center Board Chairman James Hodge on receiving this award, stating, “It is well deserved.” Mr. Passantino, one of the leaders of The Pink Tie Foundation, noted that a week prior, members of The Pink Tie Delivery Donation Program presented to the Community Center a check and hundreds of pounds of food to help the Center support its local community.

Accepting the award on behalf of the Center, Mr. Hodge thanked Vision Long Island for recognizing the work of the MLK Community Center. “We look at things holistically, and try to meet the needs of the community,” he explained. “We engage in need assessments, so when natural disasters or emergencies happen, we shift from the day to day things we do, like afterschool, educational, and recreational programs, to connecting residents with what they need.” Regarding the pandemic, Mr. Hodge discussed the issue of food insecurity. Food insecurity was already a problem in the community, he explained, and it only grew more drastically as the pandemic took hold. “So, we started feeding hundreds of people, giving them healthy food because of underlying conditions. We wanted to give more vegetables; food that would help build the immune system.”

“We are not just the Martin Luther King Center,” Mr. Hodge clarified, “because we really try to live out the dream and not judge people by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. Like Martin Luther King said, ‘life begins to end the day we become silent about things that matter.’ Life matters to us and we’ve been speaking to the community to try to find out what we can do to help.”

Vision applauds the MLK Community Center for its extraordinary mission and community work.

You can watch the award presentation here.


Sea Cliff Village Traffic
& Safety Committee
Village of Sea Cliff

Thursday, August 13th, Vision Long Island traveled to the Village of Sea Cliff for stop number 9 of the 2020 Vision Long Island Smart Growth Award tour to present a Walkability award to the Sea Cliff Village Traffic and Safety Committee and the Village of Sea Cliff.

“Today, we are in the beautiful Village of Sea Cliff,” began Eric Alexander, Vision Long Island’s Director, “to present this walkability award for the great work that has been done by the Village, and some of the committees in the Village, to create walkable, bikeable alternatives to enhance the great village they already have.” Mr. Alexander continued, “As a result of the coronavirus, folks are walking and biking more, folks are looking at outdoor dining. People are looking to get out of their homes in a way that’s safe and healthy.”

Also, in attendance for the award presentation was Elissa Kyle, Vision Long Island’s Sustainability Director. Mrs. Kyle explained that one of the main and most important aspects about complete streets and walkability is the fundamental baseline of safety; safety on bike, on foot, in a motor vehicle, whatever the mode of transportation. Beyond that, it’s about making places for people, enhancing lives. Mr. Alexander added, “We are excited when towns and villages prioritize these types of activities, like they have in Sea Cliff.”

Village of Sea Cliff Mayor Edward Lieberman was present to receive the award on behalf of the Village. Speaking about the history of Sea Cliff, Mayor Lieberman described it as a walking community since it was incorporated in 1883. “Although it’s not the same,” the Mayor stated, “residents still look forward to walking. Three years ago, when I became mayor, I believed it was very important to create a traffic and safety committee.” Village Trustee Dina Epstein was appointed to formulate the committee. Soon after, local attorney Daniel Flanzig was chosen to chair the committee. 

The Traffic and Safety Committee makes recommendations and works hand in hand with the Village and the County. “We are trying to encourage and enhance walkability throughout the Village,” the Mayor concluded.

According to Village Trustee Dina Epstein, the Traffic and Safety Committee has been involved in all the different streetscapes and walkability features of Sea Cliff. “We have many different committees, run by volunteers, making the streets walkable and beautiful.”

Introducing the chair of the committee, Mayor Lieberman applauded the work of Dan Flanzig, acknowledging his vast knowledge of pedestrian and bicycle safety. Mr. Flanzig is a member of the Board of Directors and legal advisor to the New York Bicycling Coalition, the State’s leading bicycle advocacy group.

Mr. Flanzig thanked Vision Long Island for the award and for years of support. He also thanked Mayor Lieberman, noting, “We are very lucky that we have an administration in Sea Cliff that’s progressive and open minded. Anytime we go to them with an idea to make it a more walkable and bikeable community, they never say no.”

“The Village is one square mile,” Mr. Flanzig stated, “so everything in this Village is walkable. The concept is to get people out of their cars. Our goal is to create a safe road, a safe place to walk. We want to be able to say this is one of the best bikeable and walkable villages in Nassau County.”


Split the Bill NY
Sidgmore Family Foundation

Thursday, August 20th, Vision Long Island traveled to the Village of Farmingdale for stop number 13 of the 2020 Long Island Smart Growth Award tour to present the Regional Leadership award to the Sidgmore Family Foundation in recognition of Split the Bill NY.

Split the Bill NY is a not-for-profit launched this past May by the Sidgmore Family Foundation to help the Long Island hospitality industry survive the effects of COVID-19. The mission of the non-profit is to support local restaurants, their hardworking employees and the community during times of economic hardship caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The program reimburses 50% of a diner’s restaurant receipt, up to $30 per order, when ordering takeout, delivery, drive-through or dine-in from partnering restaurants. “Split the Bill” launched in Farmingdale in May, with 20 restaurants signed up to be part of its pilot program. It was wildly popular.

“We are here in Farmingdale to recognize a foundation that has advanced a very innovative program called Split the Bill,” announced Eric Alexander, Director of Vision Long Island. “When philanthropic foundations step up and support people, particularly through a difficult time like coronavirus, that’s so important.” Mr. Alexander continued, “The Split the Bill program essentially provides resources and dollars for local businesses. It really has been a lifeline to small businesses in Farmingdale, Valley Stream, Westbury and Hempstead.”

Village of Farmingdale Mayor Ralph Ekstrand was on hand to give testimony to this program. “The Sigdmore Family Foundation brought $20,000 into Farmingdale in just two days,” Mayor Ekstrand advised. “We thank the Foundation for this.” Local business owner John Kanaras of Whiskey Down Diner expressed how helpful the program has been to his businesses. “This program not only helped us, but all of the businesses on Main Streat. It was obviously tough times with everything going on. We were building up slowly and this program helped tremendously to accelerate that build up.”

“When we first thought about doing Split the Bill,” Randi Sidgmore, trustee at Sidgmore Family Foundation, stated, “our goal was to say we know that people are really being impacted by this pandemic and the people that are going to feel it the most are on main street. They will be the ones to crumble first. Our goal is to drive people to these areas.”

Jeff Gelbwaks and Jessica Gelbwaks accepted the award on behalf of the Foundation. Called the Dynamic Duo by both Mayor Ekstrand and Mr. Alexander, the Gelbwaks were the driving force behind implementing the program. “We reached out to Eric early on because we knew his devotion to the downtowns runs so deep,” Mr. Gelbwaks stated. “The local mayors and local politicians are so connected to their constituents and they care so deeply for the businesses in the local downtowns. It would be nice if we could find other people to join us in providing dollars to these small independent restaurants that may not have access to government assistance.”

“It’s been such a pleasure doing this,” concluded Jessica Gelbwaks. “Our goal has always been and continues to be to help out local restaurants. We hope to keep expanding this program as much as possible.” She stated, “We have heard such wonderful feedback, we hope we can keep doing it.”

You can view the award ceremony here.


Charles Roberts, Salvation Army

Friday, July 31st brought Vision Long Island to The Salvation Army Hempstead Citadel Corps Community Center to present the 2020 Vision Long Island Smart Growth Award for Community Leadership to Captain Charles Roberts, the Salvation Army’s Long Island county coordinator. Joining Vision’s Executive Director, Eric Alexander, in celebrating Captain Roberts’ remarkable community work was Brandon Ray, Regional Director of External and Legislative Affairs at AT&T, and Vision Long Island Board member, Ray Thomas, Advisory Board member of PinkTie.Org, Clariona Griffith, President of the Hempstead Chamber of Commerce and Town of Hempstead Senior Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby.

Mr. Roberts was lauded by each speaker for his unselfish dedication to the Hempstead community, including his staunch support for food security. Without his work, and partnership with organizations such as AT&T and PinkTie, many local families would have suffered and continue to suffer, through this COVIC-19 pandemic. Speaking about Captain Roberts, Ms. Griffith stated, “He is a trailblazer, in every aspect of the word, blazing a trail throughout the entire Hempstead community.”

Senior Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby echoed that Captain Roberts has worked tirelessly for the Hempstead community, always there and willing to work with her for the betterment of others. She underscored how well deserving he was of this award. 

Although Captain Roberts is leaving Long Island, being transferred to a Salvation Army Center in Syracuse, he has laid a strong foundation which will last for many years. Speaking about Captain Roberts’ distinctiveness, Mr. Alexander noted his first questions upon hearing about Captain Roberts was who is this gentleman with the Salvation Army who is interested in revitalization, who is connected to youth, who is connected to seniors, who cares about housing – I have to meet this man. “Beyond the basic services, Charles is the type of person who has a personal follow through to connect to people,” Mr. Alexander noted. “There is so much joy in his heart even when there is so much need coming out of it. He is able to lift up other people.”

Accepting the award, Captain Roberts recalled his first time sitting with Mr. Alexander, discussing what it means to possess, to thrive, in a livable neighborhood, “And we’re still after it,” Captain Roberts admitted. “We don’t do anything alone, we do everything better, together. Unity is one of the qualities that we sorely need in this community. It takes work to be unified, to marshal it, to maintain it.”

Through partnerships with Vision, the Chamber, the Town of Hempstead, AT&T, PinkTie, the Village, “We have been able to serve 1.5 million meals on Long Island during the COVID-19 pandemic response,” Captain Roberts stated. “It happens because we work together.” Explaining further, “Communities can transform because communities themselves have the best answers for what they need. It is our job to empower the people who feel like they have no power to be solutions in their own situations.”

You can watch a video of the award ceremony here.


Don Monti, Renaissance Downtowns

Thursday, August 27th, Vision Long Island traveled to the Pink Tie Studios in Plainview for stop number 15 of the 2020 Long Island Smart Growth Awards tour to present the Regional Leadership award to Don Monti, President and CEO of Renaissance Downtowns.

Mr. Monti enjoys over 35 years of diverse experience covering all aspects of the real estate spectrum. He has been involved in over 80 completed projects that cover the full range of the development spectrum including office buildings, apartments, retail, mixed-use complexes, recreation and entertainment centers, hotels, marinas, condominiums and single-family homes.

“Don Monti has done so much for advancing walkability, placemaking and public participation in development,” Eric Alexander, Director of Vision Long Island, stated. “Regional leadership is about pulling together what we hear from communities and elevating it, taking it to another level. This honoree is very special in the sense that for over twenty years people have been talking about smart growth and placemaking, but we didn’t always have the ear of the development community.”

“I’m extremely honored to be the recipient of this award,” Mr. Monti expressed. “I must admit, I am a self-proclaimed recovered developer…. I started my career purchasing surplus schools many years ago, and in doing so, I purchased 14 closed public schools. If anyone wants to know the definition of community emotion, try being involved as a developer with a closed school, but it taught me a lot… Emotions run very high and what I said to the community was if not me, someone else. I did not make the decision to sell the school and what you get with me is you get me from day one, whatever takes place. That resulted in 14 for 14 rezonings for school properties, but I did it the old-fashioned way. I did it with knocking on doors and wearing out shoes. What I am really happy to say is, with the advent of technology, I still have the same shoes that I’ve been wearing for the last three years. I don’t have to walk the streets anymore, but there is still involvement with community. The important thing is that you go nowhere, and I mean nowhere, without entitlements and entitlements result from community outreach.”

Mr. Monti explained, “In the end, it all comes down to one thing, enter early with the community. Don’t bring them in when it’s too late, when the opposition forms, because you didn’t tell them what you were thinking of doing. They need to be part of the authorship of what happens. When you do that, you end up getting as much, if not more, than what you originally asked for. The reason is because most people are reasonable, just given that opportunity early on. I promise you, the successes on Long Island will continue.” Discussing multiple projects he is presently working on in New York and California, Mr. Monti summed up his guiding principles, “It all comes down to the same thing. Community input, reach out early, do good, and you will do well.”



Public Officials who participated in Virtual Awards Zoom, Stream, Live Community Events, or provided Assistance:

Federal & NYS Representatives included:  US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand; US Congresswoman Kathleen Rice; Theresa Santuro, Andrew Mulvey, Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo; Garret Armwood, Office of US Senator Chuck Schumer.

NYS Assemblymembers Hon. Phil Ramos, Hon. Michaelle Solages, Hon. Taylor Darling, Hon. Ed Ra, Hon. Kim Jean Pierre, Hon. Steve Englebright, Hon. Michael Fitzpatrick; NYS Senator’s Hon. Phil Boyle, Hon. Anna Kaplan.

Nassau and Suffolk County Officials included Hon. Laura Curran, Nassau County Executive; Hon. Steve Bellone, Suffolk County Executive; Hon. Jack Schnirman, Nassau County Comptroller, Hon. Richard Nicollelo, Presiding Officer, Nassau County Legislature; Hon. Ellen Birnbaum, Nassau County Legislature; Hon. Delia Deriggi Whitton, Nassau County Legislature; Hon. Debra Mule, Nassau County Legislature, Hon. Carrie Solages, Nassau County Legislature, Hon. Rose Walker, Nassau County Legislature;  Hon. Laura Schaefer, Nassau County Legislature; Jeff Greenfield, Nassau Planning Commission; Suffolk Presiding Officer Rob Calarco; Hon. Tom Cilmi, Suffolk County Legislature; Hon. Steve Flotteron, Suffolk County Legislature; Hon. Kevin McCaffrey, Suffolk County Legislature, Hon. William Doc Spencer Suffolk County Legislature.

Long Island Town Officials included  Hon. Valerie Cartright, Brookhaven Town Councilwoman; Hon. Dan Panico, Brookhaven Town Councilman; Hon. Jane Bonner, Brookhaven Town Councilwoman; Hon. Don Clavin, Hempstead Town Supervisor; Hon. Dorothy Goosby, Senior Councilwoman Town of Hempstead, Hon. Bruce Blakeman, Hempstead Town Councilwoman; Hon. Chad Lupinacci, Huntington Town Supervisor; Hon. Joan Cergol, Huntington Town Councilwoman; Hon. Angie Carpenter, Islip Town Supervisor; Hon. James O’Connor, Islip Town Councilman; Hon. Marianne Dalimonte, North Hempstead Town Councilwoman; Hon. Veronica Lurvey, North Hempstead Town Councilwoman; Hon. Joseph Saladino, Oyster Bay Town Supervisor; Hon. Steve Labriola, Oyster Bay Town Councilman; Hon. Vicki Walsh, Town of Oyster Bay Councilwoman, Hon. Laura Maier, Town of Oyster Bay Councilwoman; Hon. Jodi Giglio, Town of Riverhead Councilwoman; Hon. Ed Werheim, Town of Smithtown Supervisor, Hon. Tom Lohmann, Town of Smithtown Councilman

Long Island Village & City Officials included Hon. Dennis Siry, Village of Amityville; Hon. Ralph Ekstrand, Village of Farmingdale; Hon. Jean Celender, Village of Great Neck Plaza; Hon. William Warner, Village of Great Neck Estates, Hon. Don Ryan, Hon. Charles Renfroe, Village of Hempstead; Hon. RJ Renna, Village of Lindenhurst; Hon. Allan Beach, Village of Lynbrook; Hon. Scott Strauss, Village of Mineola; Hon. Damon McMullen, Village of Northport; Hon. Mercy Smith, Village of Northport; Hon. Ed Lieberman, Village of Sea Cliff; Hon. Barbara Donno, Village of Plandome; Hon. Margot Garant, Village of Port Jefferson; Hon. Sarah Oral, Village of Roslyn; Hon. Peter Cavallaro, Village of Westbury; Hon. Ed Fare, Village of Valley Stream; Hon. Liz Treston, City of Long Beach, Hon. Danielle Fugazy, Hon. Marsha Silverman, City of Glen Cove.

Former Elected Officials and Representatives included  Hon. Michele Schimel, former NYS Assemblywoman; Hon. George Graf, former Mayor Village of Farmingdale; Hon. David Kappell former Mayor Village of Greenport; Hon. Ralph Krietzman, former Mayor Village of Great Neck; John Cameron, LI Regional Planning Council; Richard Kessel, Nassau County IDA, Hon. Jon Kaiman former Town of North Hempstead Supervisor.

Media Links:

You can read Long Island Business News’ coverage of the Awards here:

You can read the Long Island Herald’s coverage of the Cornerstone at Yorkshire here: 

You can read Greater Port Jeff’s coverage of the Brookport here: 

You can read the Beacon’s coverage of the Lindenhurst Walkability Plan here: 

Watch all of the honoree videos on our YouTube channel here: 

Special Thanks to Pink Tie for use of their studio, Video Masters, and everyone who helped to make this year’s Long Island Smart Growth Awards Virtual Program a Success!

Save the Date for the 19th Annual
Long Island Smart Growth Summit!

We are now accepting ideas for panels and nominations for both panelists and presenters! In order to prepare for this year’s Summit, we’d like your input on two things:

1) Send us your suggestions for presenters, panelists, and workship topics.

2) Tell us about your downtown projects and infrastructure needs so we have a full picture of community priorities.

The deadline forr suggestions is Friday, October 9th. Send your ideas to events@visionlongisland.org


Vision Long Island
24 Woodbine Ave., Suite Two 
Northport, NY 11768 
Phone: 631-261-0242. Fax: 631-754-4452.
Email: info@visionlongisland.org
Website: www.visionlongisland.org

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