The 2019 Long Island Smart Growth Summit

Over 1,200 Long Island Community, Business, and
Government Leaders Work Collaboratively to Tackle
Downtown Redevelopment & Infrastructure

Over 1,200 business, community and government leaders joined this year’s LI Smart Growth Summit at the Crest Hollow Country Club Friday Dec. 6th. 20 workshops featured over 130 speakers focused on varying topics related to downtown revitalization and infrastructure investment.   Over 50 different Main Street redevelopment and wastewater, energy and transportation projects were covered throughout the day. 

The implementation of Smart Growth on Long Island ultimately comes down to municipal officials, 11 of who gave local updates on the State of the Town’s and Village’s Panel. The 2019 panelists included: Town of Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim, Town of Babylon Supervisor Rich Schaffer, Town of Islip Supervisor Angie CarpenterTown of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino, Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth, Town of Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci, Village of Westbury Mayor Peter Cavallaro, Village of Lindenhurst Mayor Michael Lavorata, Village of Valley Stream Mayor Ed Fare, Village of Farmingdale Mayor Ralph Ekstrand.  Town of Hempstead Supervisor-elect Don Clavin also joined the panel to preview the Town’s downtown priorities for 2020.  

This year’s Summit featured a luncheon headlined by RXR Rebecca D’Elioa who presented an update to their project at the Nassau HUB. Featured speakers included Nassau County Executive Laura Curran who spoke on the Nassau HUB, reformed IDA and mobility initiatives, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone touched on wastewater funding and their economic development work.

NYS Senators Anna Kaplan and James Gaughran also provided a preview of the 2020 Albany legislative session.

Adrienne Esposito Co-chair of the LI Lobby Coalition updated their accomplishments and plans for 2020.

Phil Eng from the MTA/LIRR reported on their modernization work and Keith Rooney from National Grid updated the attendees on the status of natural gas service.

LI Youth Summit incorporated students from St. Joseph’s College, SUNY Old Westbury, Hofstra University, Suffolk Community College, SUNY Farmingdale, LI University and local high schools commenced for the 12th straight year bringing young people into the planning process of their communities.  The theme for the students was building leadership skills to prepare for jobs.

The newly formed Long Island Main Street Alliance had members out from 40 different downtown communities that have plans for future growth and preservation.  These 40 communities with downtown plans and approved transit oriented development projects yielded over 14,000 units of housing approved in the last fourteen years with projects currently opened or under construction.  Over 10,000 units are in the planning stages now driven by local community and small business leadership.  Just the night before the Summit the Village of Westbury approved a comprehensive rezoning plan for their train station that was a product of community input and will assist their downtown area.

89 of 110 public hearings for downtown and TOD redevelopment projects have been approved over the last 7 years with more community supporters than opponents.  $50 million has been dedicated this year to traffic calming and pedestrian and bike safety initiatives and record investments in transit and downtown economic development have ensued over the previous year.

Opening Remarks

The Opening Welcome was presented by Eric Alexander, Director of Vision Long Island. After welcoming the 1,200attendees, Mr. Alexander identified Vision Long Island’s 2019 Smart Growth Summit’s theme as Communication and Collaboration. He emphasized that the successful projects which have occurred during the past few years across Long Island, such as sewers in Kings Park, a TOD plan in Westbury, and consensus for revitalization in Baldwin, would not have happened without stakeholders, such as civics, chambers, environmentalists, developers, all working together. Successful projects happen from the bottom up, rarely from the top down. Towards this goal, Mr. Alexander invited all attendees to become part of the newly formed Long Island Main Street Alliance.  The goal of the Alliance is to support community driven revitalization to lobby and promote our downtowns.  After introducing the elected officials on the dais, Mr. Alexander acknowledged their success in working collaboratively with each other and the stakeholders in their communities.

State of the Towns and Villages

State of the Towns and Villages moderator, Joye Brown of Newsday, started off the discussion by asking the elected officials what impact Smart Growth policies have had on their downtowns.

Westbury Village Mayor, Hon. Peter Cavallaro was excited to announce a rezone of 53 acres of property adjacent to the railroad station has finally been completed. “Last night we concluded a two and a half year project that was funded by our Downtown Revitalization Grant,” said the Mayor. “We rezoned about 53 acres of property adjacent to our train station into seven transit oriented development sub-zones.  If you analyze the full buildout, over a 15 year period, that has the potential of allowing up to 1,500 new multifamily residential units.

Expected are seven TOD subzones, when built out, will produce 1,500 multi-family residential units. Mayor Cavallaro pointed to the creation of more than 800 units of multi-family development near the downtown over the past decade. According to Cavallaro, “TOD is the best answer to redevelop some communities on LI that suffered from big box stores.”

Hon. Ralph Ekstrand, Farmingdale Village Mayor, stressed that although you build a downtown through the use of transit oriented development (TOD), it is necessary to get the community active in village events such as musical festivals, parades, and cultural arts events. Discussing Farmingdale’s 100% affordable housing project, the first in Nassau County, Mayor Ekstrand underscored the importance of development that will keep young adults from moving off island.

“You build a downtown and use transit oriented development,” said Mayor Ekstrand, “but you have to get everybody active in the community events.  You have to have Village events.  You have to get the community involved.”

Hon. Mike Lavorota, Lindenhurst Village Mayor, recalled how big box stores pushed out mom & pop businesses in his village. To counter this, the Village needed to change how residents thought about revitalization, such as development around the train station. Mayor Lavorota stated Lindenhurst is on the move and catching up to other growing villages.

Mayor Lavorota noted that “For many years, like so many other downtowns, a lot of the big box stores came in and took a lot of the small mom and pop stores and took them out of business.  This became a need to change, and to change our ‘stinkin’ thinkin’ and try to convince some of the folks that had been there many years that we had to re-think the way we did things.”

Following this theme, Hon. Richard Schaffer, Babylon Town Supervisor, highlighted that it takes good leadership to get buy in from residents, stating political differences need to be put aside in order to successfully create new downtowns, such as is happening in Lindenhurst.

“To get people to buy into change and to get them to understand how it’s going to benefit takes someone like [Mayor Lavorata],” said Supervisor Schaffer.”  His personality, his willingness to sit and listen to conversation after conversation after conversation and put the time in.  He spent that time and pulled off, with very little opposition, the Tritec project.

Hon. Don Clavin, Town of Hempstead Supervisor-elect, discussed how his administration plans to move the Nassau HUB Project forward. He believes the HUB has been an opportunity that hadn’t hit its stride, but with a town board wanting to work together, the right developer in place, and stakeholders involved, success will follow. He sees the Hempstead community embracing the HUB partly because the project will embrace housing for seniors and young adults alike.

“I look at the HUB as an opportunity,” he said.  “It’s an opportunity for something that hasn’t hit its stride.  Right now I think you have a board that is going to work together.  If we’re going to have success at the HUB, if we’re going success in Baldwin, if we’re going to have success in any of the communities that we want to see investment in … it’s going to take working together, and that’s the commitment.”

Hon. Angie Carpenter, Islip Town Supervisor, outlined the many exciting projects in Central Islip that are moving forward since winning the 2019 10 Million Dollar Revitalization Grant from New York State. Part of this grant includes $600,000 for store front revitalization. In other areas, such as the old NY Tech property, the developer plans to retrofit existing buildings, something the community wanted to see happen. Supervisor Carpenter revealed since the town experienced some opposition to various projects, developers and planners have started working with community stakeholders to explain process, provide information, answer questions, and engage with the community in order to identify development the community is comfortable embracing.

“I really believe that if we sit with the community, we engage the community, and we give them something they’re comfortable with, at the end of the day everyone is better off by providing opportunities for keeping our millennials here and keeping our seniors here,” said the Supervisor.

Valley Stream Village Mayor, Hon. Ed Fare repeated the old adage, the only thing constant is change. Valley Stream put together an economic development team comprised of three full time staff members to work with developers, politicians, businesses and community. Mayor Fare stressed that it’s the synergy of these groups that allow for a vibrant downtown.

He noted that “You do need that synergy of Republicans, Democrats, older people, first responders, empty nesters, and you do have to create that mix of people to stay and continue to give you vibrant downtowns.” Expressing the need for multi-family development, Mayor Fare pointed to a recent 43 unit apartment complex that received 500 applications. 

Smithtown’s Town Supervisor, Hon. Ed Wehrheim had much to tout. Acknowledging revitalization in the township starts with the need for sewers, this has been a top priority. With local, county and state government, working together with community and business, sewers in Kings Park are ready to go. In Smithtown, the town is working with St. Catherine’s Hospital to obtain property to be able to take capacity into Sewer District 6 and in St. James, a dry sewer main will soon be placed in the business district with plans to hook up to a treatment plant in the Gyrodyne development in the future.

“We feel that [new sewer infrastructure] sets us up for all of our business districts to start to thrive,” he said.  “We’re very pleased that there already is a lot of interest because of those issues.  They know it’s real, they know it’s coming, and we’re receiving new businesses every day.”

A 71 unit market rate apartment complex, with 9,500 sq ft of retail, has broken ground in downtown Smithtown, a third assisted living facility has been completed and 350 rental units throughout the town are either under construction or have been approved.

Hon. Judy Bosworth, North Hempstead’s Town Supervisor explained with cooperation and consensus building, North Hempstead has become a happening place. Events such as concerts and winter wonderland, coupled with hiking and biking trails, and the town’s Project Independence, have helped North Hempstead be named one of Money Magazine’s 8 best places to retire in the US. Supervisor Bosworth emphasized communities need to know how projects, especially housing for millennials, will benefit them and not bring negative consequences to their area.

Supervisor Bosworth also talked about cooperation in her Town, noting that “Whatever we do, we do as a team.  If you were to come to one of our Town Board meetings, you would be hard pressed to say who the Democrat is, who the Republican is, because we are fortunate that we have a group that works together because we’re here with all the same purpose: To do what’s best for the residents of the town of North Hempstead.  You can’t emphasize enough the importance of that spirit of cooperation.”

Echoing his counterparts, Westbury Village Mayor, Hon. Peter Cavallaro stated there is an important need to be proactive with the community when it comes to planning and development, especially the need for senior and millennial housing.

Hon. Joseph Saladino, Oyster Bay Town Supervisor, spoke about being proud to be part of the new renaissance in the Town of Oyster Bay. Supervisor Saladino was quick to state that Oyster Bay is “continuing to open the doors to Smart Growth, protecting our environment, making more affordable housing for our workforce and for seniors.  We’re changing zoning in our downtowns and are embracing all that is Transit Oriented Development.  We understand the power of mixed use development and the new programs while protecting all the quality programs in the Town of Oyster Bay.”

Looking to Hicksville, which received a 10 million DRI grant, Supervisor Saladino highlighted how development can succeed. He strongly urged town and villages to work together. “There are challenges, but there are also solutions,” Supervisor Saladino said.

Hon. Chad Lupinacci, Huntington Town Supervisor, spoke about the kinds of events that make downtown Huntington dynamic. These attractions include parades, cultural arts, museums, entertainment, restaurants and bars. The biggest issue the town is successfully working on is parking issues. “[A Parking Structure] is needed,” he said, “especially for the balance, when you’re going down there to turn a lot of people on the high peak points of Thursday nights, Friday nights, Saturday nights, to really go down there.  But also the businesses need it too, because we have a lot of new businesses that are opening in the area, which I think is very, very important.”

Huntington Station is also growing with such projects as the Conte Community Center, spray parks, the southside sewer study, the Northridge Apartments, the Gateway project, the Columbia Terrace project for veterans, and a 4 million dollar grant to improve the train facility area.

Present for the 12th year were over 100 students from five different schools, all part of the LI Youth Summit. Several questions were asked by high school students from Amityville High School and Wyandanch High School. The common thread running through the questions were summed up by Newsday’s Joy Brown, Long Island is a place of have and have nots. One student asked how did it help his community in North Amityville when 300 mobile homes were removed, replaced by apartments in the Greybarn project that many of those living in the mobile homes could not afford.  Another student noted the disparate conditions of some downtowns on Long Island. The answer from the dais to the students was to stay involved, and the suggestion among the elected officials to each other was to bring all stakeholders to the table, including students like those in attendance.

View the Morning Plenary Session here.

Fostering Leadership Skills
from School to Workplace

The panel opened with each of the panelists talking about leadership in general and what sort of qualities are required to become one.  Moderator Dr. Nathalia Rogers noted that there were a number of future leaders in the audience viewing the panel itself and hoped that the discussion could guide them in their efforts.  She began the panel by asking the speakers, who spanned multiple generations, to speak on what they considered to be leadership qualities.

Evan Peters from General Douglas MacArthur High School talked first, noting that he was in several leadership positions at his high school.  He is class president and served as team leader of the distance team for his high school track team as well as vice president of the national honors society and president of the Math honor society.  He talked about his personal life and how he has made an effort to excel outside of school as well as within.  Mr. Peters is an Eagle Scout, has helped with fundraising for his school, participated in food drives and community outreach, and has interned for a NYS Senator while also holding a job as a cashier at the local Stop & Shop.

Jeffrey Reyes-Espinal of Amityville High School was the next speaker and seemed to echo Mr. Peters’ accomplishments with his own.  Reyes-Espinal serves as class president at his high school as well and also the president of the Key Club.  As a representative of all students he strives to be present and participate in school government, attending school board meetings and raising student awareness of important issues.  Jeffrey strives to be present and make the student voices heard, taking to heart the idea that if you don’t participate you can’t effect change.  He does this along with holding down two separate jobs.

The next panelist was Brianna Ferguson, a sophomore at St. Joseph’s College.  Ms. Ferguson talked about the need to get involved, which she has done herself by joining student government at St. Joseph’s as treasurer.  She has also helped out as orientation leader for the incoming freshman class, which guides new students through their first year, and oversees clubs as a member of the educator’s club.  This allows her to help council exceptional children to provide guidance that she wishes she had had as a freshman.

Colleen Flynn, also a student at St. Joseph’s College, is the current student government association president and is also a freshman first year experience volunteer.  Her own experience as a freshman dealing with these kinds of volunteers is what led her into a leadership role at her college, giving her the drive to help incoming students and provide a needed service for incoming students.  Ms. Flynn noted that an experience such as that can make a big difference for an incoming student.

After the students spoke some community leaders and educators were next beginning with John Schneidwin of TFCU.  He spoke on the importance of extra-curricular activities for students.  As a member of his local schoolboard in North Babylon, he also talked about how important it was for students to get involved and help drive the policies that affect them directly.  He noted how important it is for local boards to hear feedback directly from students.  Mr. Schneidwin also recommended theat the they do their own research, using the internet as a tool to help them discover ways to stay local to Long Island while they were in college.

The next speaker was Michael Bonacasa from H2M Architects + Engineers, who talked about his organization briefly, which has an average age of 36 for their employees.  He has experience with private sector marketing and is president of the Italian Americans in government, a local charitable organization that raises money for that group. 

The final speaker on the panel was Dr. Gail Lamberta, a professor at St, Joseph’s College.  Professor Lamberta noted her experience coordinating for experiential and recreational learning.  She also sits on numerous local boards including Vision Long Island’s and the Workforce Development Board.  Dr. Lamberta used her experience to state that leadership skills are not something developed all at once through education but rather a set of skills that continue to develop after someone enters the workforce.

The panelists then shifted to a conversation on how leadership skills fit in with the workforce.  It touched on a number of topics but emphasized that leadership is the result of getting out there an actually doing as well as listening.  The panelists all came from active backgrounds where they actively participated in their local communities and governmental bodies, even after completing their education.  But other than just participating, the group stressed an importance for leaders to listen as well in order to best know how to lead.

The discussion also trended towards how to overcome barriers, which can include age, gender, race, or belonging to a particular group of people.  It’s important to practice patience in that, but necessary to be tenacious in order to overcome.  Identifying the cause of these barriers and then educating oneself in how best to move past them is a sign of leadership as well as a way to lead by example.

View the Fostering Leadership Skills
from School to Workplace Panel here.

Long Island’s Energy Future

Long Island’s Energy Future panel was moderated by Neal Lewis of the Sustainability Institute of Molloy College.

Peter Gollon, a member of the LIPA Board of Trustees, began with a presentation on Decarbonizing the Economy- a primer on the sources of carbon pollution and solutions to eliminate it.  In NYS, 82% of carbon pollution is from transportation and buildings and has a goal of getting 100% of our energy from renewable sources by 2040.

Jennifer Garvey from Orsted spoke about offshore wind projects in the Northeast.  The Northeast has both a high energy demand, high average off shore wind speeds and relatively shallow waters.  Turbines are getting bigger and more powerful allowing projects to require less space and be more affordable.  New York has the highest goal for off shore wind power, but has a long way to go to reach it.  The projects they are working on are located 30 miles off the coast of Montauk and will total 1000MW.  They will generate close to 1200 jobs.

Bill Artis of Energy Project Consulting spoke about reducing peak energy use in buildings.  He focused on keeping projects within budget and ensuring they are built as efficiently as designed.  He highlighted numerous energy codes that can be used to improve the efficiency of buildings beyond the requirements of the NYS Energy Code.  Changes made during the schematic design phase will have more impact than any changes made in later phases so energy modelling early on is recommended.  Get the building envelope right first, before designing the systems.

Jay Egg of Egg Geothermal Association gave an introduction to geothermal systems for those who aren’t familiar with the technology which has three main components: ground loop exchangers, heat pump and duct systems.  They can even out electric usage swings between winter and summer with up to 56% reduction in summer peak load which can reduce the need for new power plant construction.  Additionally, geo-district grid systems are being used to replace natural gas supply lines in Massachusetts similar to one that was constructed in Riverhead which can provide heating to an entire neighborhood.

John Franceschina of PSEG highlighted some of the projects that they are working on including partnering with Orsted for offshore wind and developing energy storage for transitioning to renewable energy.  In addition they have numerous programs such as rebates for efficiency improvements that have reduced energy demand significantly since being initiated in 2013.  There are rebates for both air source and geothermal heat pumps in addition to light bulbs, appliances etc.  Upcoming rebates include, for electric landscape equipment, fork lifts and golf carts. 

View the Long Island’s Energy Future Panel here.

Increasing Supply of Affordable Housing

The Supply of Affordable Housing panel covered the best ways to increase housing across Long Island for those most in need of it.  The panel featured a number of local developers and groups who are dedicated to bringing that to local residents. 

Peter Florey from D&F Development spoke first, talking about his company’s newest project, the Sterling Green at Farmingdale.  This 61-unit affordable housing development recently received zoning and is hoping to break ground before the end of next year.  It is a mix of affordable units and contains a special needs component that is set aside for residents with developmental disabilities.  This project was an unusual situation because it represents an “as of right” zone, which normally requires a request from the developer but was instead initiated by the Village itself.  He also briefly touched on previously completed projects across the island, all of which include affordable units.

The next speaker was Allen Handelman, Vice President of Conifer Realty, who talked about his company’s experience building, developing, and managing affordable housing.  Conifer has developments across four states, including New York, with about 15,000 units of housing.  Their presence on Long Island includes about 1,200 units across 13 communities.  Mr. Handelman also noted that Conifer has been working on Long Island for 20 years with projects that include both affordable and senior housing projects.

Ralph Fasano from Concern for Independent Living was the next panelist to speak.  He opened by covering Concern’s mission on Long Island and how they work to bring it to fruition.  This includes creating affordable housing for veterans and seniors across the region.  He talked about finding funding in New York State, which presents certain challenges on Long Island.  Finding the proper funding is part of what makes their projects sustainable and enriching for the local community.

Nicholas Strachovsky from KOW ARMA Development Consultants was up next and spoke on his company’s role in assisting projects work through the process of development.  The company provides a service to development firms who may not have the staff by providing knowledge and expertise on how to work through the process of development.  The company does a lot of affordable housing across the island, working with not-for-profits, churches, and other similar types of companies.  They are currently involved in over 25 active projects across Long Island right now.  Mr. Strachovsky noted that a big part of what they do is battling the stigma that comes with affordable housing in order to provide it for local residents who need it.

The final speaker was Michelle Schimel, Director of Community Outreach for State of New York Mortgage Agency, which has been servicing state residents for fifty years.  She talked about how NYS has stepped up in recent years to help accomplish the goal of protect, reserve and grow affordable housing for low to moderate income New Yorkers.  To this effect they have unique mortgage programs and add-on features to help people get into new homes.  They also work with developers, providing funding and services in exchange for a guarantee that a number of units or homes will be financed by her organization.

Moderator Sharon Mullon from Long Island Housing Partnership opened the Q&A part of the panel by asking about how delays can impact their projects and how it’s different from other areas of the state.  The panelists agreed that delays are one of the biggest challenges they face when creating new developments on Long Island.  There was also discussion on job creation to attract younger people to the region that coincides with affordable homes for families.  They also touched on what these sorts of projects will provide for existing businesses in the areas they are developed, ways to possibly expedite the approval process, among other topics.

View the Increasing Supply of Affordable Housing Panel here.

Downtown Management and Public Safety

The Downtown Management and Public Safety panel was moderated by Sarah Oral of Cameron Engineering and Trustee of the Village of Roslyn.

Brain Harty, Administrator of the Village of Farmingdale spoke about the Village’s sign, light and awning program and sidewalk renovations that were funded through CDBG and stimulated new investment downtown.  New development near train station also brought people to Main Street.  When the village was empty there was a lot of ticketing in half empty parking lots, but that deterred people from coming.  Now they have pay by phone meters to manage parking while still trying to be user friendly.  The parking at train station has been renovated and sidewalks are well lit to connect to Main Street so people feel safe.  In addition, the Village works closely with NCPD and listens to resident’s complaints, to maintain quality of life.

Joe Scalero of the Village of Mineola spoke about how Mineola has all charm and quality of life of a small town with all the challenges of a small city.  They have the train station, a major hospital and the county government which means that while Mineola has a population of 19,000 people, it has a daytime population of close to 40,000.  After 5pm however, downtown was dead, so they brought in apartments to have a 24 hour population.  Currently in the “growing pains” phase-projects are under construction or recently completed, so traffic patterns are adjusting.  The biggest challenge in Mineola and across long island is absentee landlords because they can’t make them fix up their buildings, however they have incentive to try to encourage it and allow tenants to apply for funds to make improvements.

Kevin Wood, the Parking and Mobility Administrator of the Village of Port Jefferson noted the three major projects in the Village which are adding to the vibrancy of downtown, and that they are also working on uptown by the train station.  Port Jeff is known for parking anxiety, but they have added a phone app for parking which has increased from 1% to 16% usage.  He feels that it isn’t about the cost, but ease of use.  The Village also administers security cameras to improve safety downtown.  They’re not being constantly watched but can be used during incidents, and have been useful. 

Coleen Smith, a Public Safety Outreach Consultant, spoke of growing up in a family of law enforcement and how it has changed over the years.  Nassau County Police does community outreach to villages to make better connections between law enforcement and communities.    Law enforcement is trying to get out into the public more than in the past and you have to let them know what you need so they can work with you.  Also, in downtowns lighting is important to make people feel safe, and more vibrancy reduces crime because there are more eyes on the street.

View the Downtown Management and Public Safety Panel here.

Downtown Food, Beer and Coffee

Andy Calimano of Starfish Junction and LI Craft Beer Association moderated the Downtown Food, Beer and Coffee panel which discussed many of the issues that food establishments face and what brings them to communities.

Colin McGlone of Harleys American Grill in Farmingdale spoke about how they chose their location based on foot traffic and car traffic.  They looked at ages, income and demographics and having other nearby businesses also add value to the location.   It is also particularly convenient to have locations across the street to share services and staff.  Real estate prices also matter, there’s been a 6-8% increase, but it is linked to income, so there is spending power.  They listened to the community, and the community wanted a nice steakhouse, they tailored their restaurant to fit what the community wants.  They also cross promote with other businesses, to fill gaps and support each other.  Restaurants and coffee shops provide a place for people to do business, restaurants are the glue that keep downtowns together, what brings people there.

David Sabatino of Sip This in Valley Stream chose his location for very specific reason.  The former business in that location was Slipped Disc, and when it closed it was a blow to the community.  He chose to continue the history, sell their merchandise, and have pop up events with the former owners.  It was about investing in his community.  He was surprised at how supportive the local government was, but surprised at some of the permits and fees that were needed in order to open.  He advised to look into property taxes, the lease and tax structure of Valley Stream has the highest commercial tax rates, something he did not know when starting out. Also know that you can apply for a liquor event, up to 4 per year to hold special events including partnering with local breweries for art openings, record events.

Andy Calimano discussed how when they started there were only 7 breweries on Long Island, while there are now over 40.  Breweries in Riverhead have a bike between breweries event which can only happen when you have several in close proximity.  Most breweries don’t serve food, so patrons go to a restaurant after which helps support other businesses.  Cideries are a new industry on Long Island, with New York State the second largest grower of apples in the country.  Brewers are looking for sewers, otherwise very challenging because they have limited budgets.  Many owners have day jobs, and they are mostly opening tasting rooms, not brewing for distribution.  Spirit companies need less space since they can charge more for their product, and cideries tend to stay on the east end where the apples grow.

View the Downtown, Food, Beer and Coffee Panel here.

Creating Complete Streets

The Complete Streets panel covered a range of topics from the health benefits of Complete Streets and active transportation to broad plans for improve transportation options across the island to individual  built projects in our downtowns. The panel was moderated by Elissa Kyle from Vision Long Island.

Dr. Karyn Kirschbaum from Western Suffolk BOCES described the Creating Healthy Schools and Communities program that is helping to increase activity levels as well as improve nutrition and wellness within the communities of Wyandanch, Brentwood, Central Islip, Roosevelt and the Shinnecock Reservation.  Through the program they have organized several community walks to both demonstrate that there are destinations within walking distance as well as identify dangerous hot spots that should be the focus of safety improvements.

Frank Wefering of GPI highlighted the Walkability Plan for downtown Lindenhurst which focuses on improving walkability to revitalize the downtown rather than increasing the supply of parking.  It focuses not just on pedestrian safety, but also on being a multi-modal area that accommodates bicycles, transit and cars as well and used extensive public input to develop the recommendations.  Currently there are numerous new food and drink businesses opening within the downtown area.

Steve Normandin of NV5 showed a number of projects built around the island in the past year including  Main Street Port Washington recently installed curb extensions to increase sidewalk area and downtown Copiague has installed streetscaping and new crosswalks to unify the numerous patchwork sidewalk improvements.  Bay Shore has recently completed a bike lane connecting the train station to the ferry terminal and redesigned the ferry terminal area to improve circulation. In addition, Valley Stream has used resiliency funding for a waterfront shared-use path, Westbury is adding streetscaping along Post Ave, and Hicksville is undergoing a complete streets study.

Chris D’Antonio from Suffolk County Planning highlighted a number of efforts underway in the County to improve active transportation.  The first is the County’s bike share program funded by Bethpage Federal Credit Union and managed by Zagster.  Second is the countywide Hike Bike Master Plan which seeks to create a network of pedestrian and bike infrastructure using web based public engagement as well as pop up events around the county.  The plan uses various criteria to prioritize projects that will help to connect existing facilities into an interconnected system.

Grace Healy from the Trust for Public Land updated the progress made on the Empire State Trail Long Island Extension (now renamed the Long Island Greenway) over the past year.  The feasibility study has been completed and now they are currently looking at the route in more detail.  The original first phase started at Eisenhower Park and continued through utility corridors to Edgewood Preserve, but ultimately was extended to Brentwood State Park to connect with a more active park space as well as Suffolk Community College.  The next year will move forward on engineering studies to confirm the various technical aspects of the route prior to construction documents being prepared.

View the Creating Complete Streets Panel here.

Main Street Business Diversity

Main Street Business Diversity panel hosted by Lionel Chitty, Director of Nassau County’s Department of Minority Affairs, had a wide range of business owners and representatives from organizations providing services to businesses.  The discussion covered numerous tips for small business owners to help their businesses succeed.

Nancy Vargas of DH2 Transportation, a JFK based shuttle service, spoke about how even as a MWBE (Minority/Women owned Business Enterprise), you have to go out there and be your own best advocate and “sell” your business.  Join as many organizations as you can to know what’s going on relevant to your business, research what you should be a member of in order to network.  In addition, get the youth involved, it is a place for conversation and they want to get involved.

Harry Molhatra of the South Asian Chamber of Commerce spoke about how there is nowhere for young people to go in Hicksville, they want some kind of entertainment and there are not as many restaurants as there used to be. The South Asian Chamber has organized events to introduce businesses and work with the town.  Another way to reach out to town government.  Sometimes there’s a language barrier, so you need to understand culture and background.  Some believe that you need to pay to speak to government, so there’s a need to make connections and reduce distrust.

Phil Andrews of the African American Chamber of Commerce highlighted the need to make sure that minorities are a part of development projects.  In Hempstead, the community would be more invested in the success if they were.  He also emphasized the importance of Chambers – new businesses should reach out to them.

Gina Coletti of the Suffolk County Alliance of Chambers seconded that if you want to get your business into an area, get involved with the chambers.  Talk to them to find out what’s going on in those communities, and talk to elected officials as well.  Look at Long Island Business News to find out about potential opportunities.

Steve Haines of New York Institute of Technology highlighted the business school at NYIT and the training available for business owners to learn skills needed to succeed.  They work with small businesses for free to increase their chance of success for marketing, management or other areas of business.

Ritu Wackett of the NYS Small Business Development Center at Stonybrook University explained how MWBE works.  While government has goals for contracts, a certain percentage should be awarded to MWBEs, they usually don’t meet those goals. If you qualify and get certified, you need to go after these contracts.  However, not all contracts go out to bid, under a certain threshold it’s all about relationship building.  She encouraged signing up for the Bid links program-daily emails about contracts that are relevant to your business.

Elizabeth Custodio of People’s United Bank emphasized the importance of business education.  They are not just there to lend, but help you get the knowledge you need in order to apply for lending.  Business owners need to know the basics and have a strong background to be considered.  Look for resources, there are many available and know the community you are looking to work in.  Know your niche, know your strengths.  Know what is going on or it’s a missed opportunity.

View the Main Street Business Diversity Panel here.

Creating Age Friendly Communities

Moderator Bernard Macias from AARP opened by noting that the population is slowly aging, with percentages of the population slowly shifting towards older individuals.  This makes it even more important to focus on keeping an older population as well as millennials and will require an “age friendly” style of development.  Recent studies have also shown that people are retiring later and that professions are adapting to that by employing people longer or even searching for older residents to fill positions.

John Cochrane from the NYS Office for the Aging was the first panelist to speak as he tried to provide context to the idea of age friendly communities.  He talked about the state level and how the concept is being promoted in New York downtowns.  This hopes to address the fact that the elderly are often living in social isolation along with accelerating chronic and mental illnesses.  Part of the goal is a plan is to make NYS the healthiest in the country by considering health of communities across all state policies, programs, and initiatives as well as identifying long term goals to embed into all aspects of government.

Jorge Martinez from the Nassau County Office of Senior Citizens Affairs was the next speaker, who had a short presentation aimed at bringing perspective to age-related issues through the numbers.  He also talked on the Office for the Aging’s mission, which included identifying needs and gaps in services, developing and coordinating implementation of services to meet those needs, enabling senior citizens to stay in their homes through end of life, and maximization of the elderly’s independence.  Nassau County is quickly becoming one of the oldest counties in the country based on age demographics.

The third panelist to speak was Rebecca Miller of Project Independence, Town of North Hempstead.  Ms. Miller talked about the aging population and how baby boomers are starting to enter “retirement age” territory.  Approximately 65,750,000 members of the population will join this group in the next decade.  We’re also starting to see more and more people in their 90’s retaining independence and their health.  She also touched on naturally occurring retirement communities where a local community could receive special designation and services if two contiguous census tracts had a majority population of a certain age.  This first occurred in North Hempstead in a small community north of New Hyde Park, which triggered an expansion of these services to surrounding communities with aging populations looking for the same.

Next up was Randi Dresner from Island Harvest, who touched on how her organization’s mission of ending hunger and food waste on long island benefits from targeting different populations.  She noted that a senior’s need would be very different from that of a young family or veteran.  Because of this the programs at Island Harvest have become increasingly diverse with elders and seniors requiring more and more services.  She noted that many senior citizens on Long Island are simply alone thanks to a lack of nearby family and how this can impact their food consumption when they cannot get to a supermarket.  This leads to a need for services like Island Harvest, but they need more transportation options as well.

Jacob Turner from the Engel Burman Group talked about his real estate group’s experiences in creating livable communities for seniors.  He talked about three categories of the elderly that had been dubbed slow-go, go-go, and no-go, and that the first two were the ones that Engel Burman focused on.  Slow-go was focused more on assisted living and retaining the mental faculties of residents and physical therapy.  Meanwhile, go-go is more about independent living in more of a hotel environment that has extra amenities.  Mr. Turner also talked about how Towns and Villages are more likely to accept these developments thanks to the fact that they bring in a tax base but don’t put extra strain on school districts.

The panel then took a number of questions from people in the audience.  The attendees asked questions on how to best stay in place for an aging population.  This included inquiries on how they can continue to pay for services among rising costs for those who own their own homes or have to use resources to pay for both housing and health services.  Transportation as a barrier and how an aging population fits in when surrounded by younger residents was also discussed, among other topics.

View the Creating Age Friendly Communities Panel here.

The Changing Retail Landscape

The Changing Retail Landscape panel was moderated by Keith Archer of Harras, Bloom and Archer and discussed many of the issues facing retail today including e-commerce, discount stores, shopping mall transformations and others.

Ken Schuckman of Schuckman Realty described the current situation as both death, evolution, and apocalypse, but mentioned that there is a sense of community that people need since the death of the mall and that people want a reason to get together.  In downtowns, the retail is going to flourish as a result of online retail hurting big box centers. Downtowns should embrace entrepreneurs and some towns are updating their codes to add flexibility to reduce vacancies as the market changes.

Kristin DeLuca of Bohler Engineering highlighted that it’s all about experience in both downtowns and former big box locations.  The retail is secondary to the experience. Retailers that embrace online retail as well as brick and mortar are very successful with brick and mortar locations able to increase their online sales by 30%. 

Aanen Olsen of Brookfield Properties described how fifty years ago we abandoned downtown, now we are going back and recreating the live, work, play experience where you don’t need a car.  Additionally, places like Homegoods do well because inventory changes constantly so people keep going back to see what’s new.  Parking always the biggest issue with retail, while you need enough for convenience, you don’t want so much that it impacts the experience.  Shared parking allows parking spaces to do double duty and be used more efficiently.

Frank Camarano of the Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce noted that people aren’t going to shop on a store rather than online because you shame them into it, they have to want to.  It has to be a good experience.  Now that internet sales tax is moving forward, there won’t be that additional disincentive to shop brick and mortar, but stores still have to do more. The NCCC’s goal is to help members by offering training for businesses to market online and other services to succeed and not get lost in the shuffle.

Diane Burke of the East End Arts Council described the focus on downtown and bringing people in.  Attitudes are changing, people want that experience.  They encourage drivers to detour through Riverhead and attract those heading to Hamptons.  The customer needs to have a good experience, but retail also has to have a web presence.  In their art store, customers can preview art online, then come to the shop to buy.  While they can buy online, most people choose to buy in person.  They also switch up exhibits regularly, to keep it new and keep people coming back.

View the Changing Retail Landscape Panel here.

Water & Infrastructure Investments
to Help Manage Growth

Moderator Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment opened the workshop by affirming Long Island’s critical water challenges. With 100% of LI’s drinking water coming from aquifers and with three million people living on top of their sole source of drinking water, a lot can go wrong. Ms. Esposito outlined many challenges the Island faces, including toxic chemicals, inadequately treated sewage, and the need for upgraded infrastructure technology. The ultimate goal is clean, safe, drinking water.

Alan Weland, VP/General Manager for SUEZ Water Long Island, discussed the improvements Nassau County has made towards resiliency. The biggest example of resiliency, according to Mr. Weland, are the Sandy recovery efforts at the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant. The good news, construction work for resiliency, which basically includes storm hardening and recovery repair for the damage, is 70% complete. The facility is now protected against storms as big, or bigger, than Sandy, with much of the equipment designed to work even when submerged. Looking forward, the goal is to remove Bay Park’s discharge from the western bays and divert it to Cedar Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, and out into the ocean. The benefits of reclaimed water were discussed as a strong vehicle to conserve drinking water.

Peter Scully, Deputy County Executive, Suffolk County, acknowledged Suffolk County is only scratching the surface on water reuse. Contrasting Nassau County, 75% sewered, to Suffolk County, 75% unsewered, Mr. Scully outlined the unique challenges Suffolk County faces and how the County is meeting those challenges. 36,000 residential and 20,000 commercial properties rely on cesspools and septic systems in Suffolk. These are not designed to treat nitrogen and have a negative impact on our water, including harmful algal blooms, fish kills and attacks to our surface water. Lack of sewers not only harms our environment, but also our economy. Without sewers, growth, especially in downtown areas, is limited. Mr. Scully also highlighted sewering, in the absence of subsidies, is very difficult to achieve. To tackle these critical issues, Suffolk County completed the Subwatersheds Wastewater Plan, which is a long-term plan to fix the County’s water quality. One goal is to move away from cesspools and traditional septic systems to Innovative Alternative (IA) systems. The challenge is making these new systems affordable to the public. The County is working on finding potential alternative financial mechanisms to achieve this goal.

Tom Parece, Senior Program Director, AECOM, focused on water reuse. A big challenge, which has proven to be difficult, is how to convince people to use reclaimed water. Working on Cape Cod, which is very similar to Long Island, Mr. Parece notes the cost of sewering was 6 to 8 billion dollars, a number too steep for the communities. As such, AECOM started looking at traditional and untraditional technology to bring costs down, which has been successful. Some untraditional technologies include Oyster reefs and permeable Reactive Barriers. Like Suffolk County, other forms of financing are always being explored.

Gary Rozmus, Senior Consultant, GEI Consultants, defined an important issue, there can be no Smart Growth without tackling Long Island’s water issues. Mr. Rozmus discussed various tools to facilitate minimization of contaminants that reach our water supply. One such tool is the NYS Brownfields Cleanup Program. The program allows for the cleanup of properties in such a way that takes advantage of construction as part of the remediation. Another tool is the use of the recently overhauled NYS 360 Regulations which allows the reuse of contaminated materials in certain instances, with certain limitations.

The panel then took a number of questions from the audience. Neal Lewis, Executive Director of the Sustainability Institute at Molloy College, and several other attendees, asked about the high cost of wastewater treatment and the prospect of those costs decreasing in the future. Mr. Scully explained that market forces will determine cost. Over time, with respect to IA Systems, as buying increases, costs will decrease. The panel also supported the idea of community run forums to explain and educate residents on wastewater management, the costs and what sewers in their community could mean.

View the Water & Infrastructure Investments
to Help Manage Growth Panel here.

TOD & Downtown Redevelopment

This panel was moderated by John Chillemi of Ruskin Moscou Faltischek, who opened with introductions of each panelist.

Kei Hayashi of BJH Advisors gave a background for the Westbury rezoning effort that was approved the night before the event.  Westbury was the first community on Long Island to win the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) award in 2016 and developed a plan to revitalize Post Avenue and the area surrounding the train station through a public input process. The rezoning covered the area east of Post Avenue to School Street and from Railroad Avenue north to Maple Avenue.  The zoning allows up to five stories close to the train station and steps down to three stories closer to the single family neighborhoods to the north.

Dylan Vitale from the Channel Club described their project near the Island Park train station which consists of 86 units, both 1 and 2 bedrooms on a former restaurant site that was destroyed during Superstorm Sandy.  In 2012 they developed King Kullen shopping center next door then designed this property for empty nesters and young professionals to be able to use LIRR and waterfront.  They raised the grade and put in extensive drainage to be prepared for any future storm.  Recently some new businesses have moved in, but further revitalization is needed.

Andy Zucaro or Zucaro Construcion described the many downtown revitalization projects he has worked on in Hempstead, Westbury, Patchogue and Farmingdale.  He then followed with some of the current projects the company is working on including 115 apartments near the Amityville train station which has recently broken ground and a project 71 unit project in 5 buildings in Smithtown at the old lumberyard on Main Street near Maple Avenue. 

Joe Rossi from Southern Land Company described a project in Garden City on Stewart Avenue that they are currently working on.  The project is on 4.65 acres and the 10% affordable units cover a range of price points for those making 40%, 60%, and 80% of AMI.

During the question and answer period, the group also discussed IDAs and school districts, green building and affordability as well as what communities can do that are just beginning the revitalization process.

View the TOD & Downtown Redevelopment Panel here.

Getting Condominiums Built

Judy Simoncic, Attorney with Forchelli Deegan Terrana Law, moderated the “Getting Condominiums Built” workshop. Framing the discussion around the demand for condominiums on Long Island, Ms. Simoncic engaged both panel and audience members on the reality and success of meeting this demand.

Anthony Bartone, Managing Partner of Terwilliger & Bartone Properties, started off the panel outlining some of the challenges of developing condominiums on Long Island. Mr. Bartone noted negotiating with the Attorney General’s office and the Nassau and Suffolk Counties’ subdivision process, coupled with the difficulty in obtaining financing, leads to substantial obstacles in this type development. Mr. Bartone noted that reaching affordable housing goals in condo projects is very difficult, if not impossible. For example, in Nassau County, the County assesses taxes at market rate which puts downward pressure on condo prices, causing great loss to developers. Mr. Bartone concluded it is difficult to build on Long Island and even more so when speaking of condos.

Steven Dubb of the Beechwood Organization agreed there is demand for condos on LI, especially for 55 or older. Empty nesters want to move out of their single-family homes, looking for a certain lifestyle. They no longer want to deal with the maintenance of a home. They are interested in access to clubhouses, gyms, pools, theatres, parking garages, elevators and eateries, which many condo developments offer. Mr. Dubb acknowledged developing condos is expensive and time consuming. Beechwood generally offers no more than 2-bedroom units in order to mollify school districts and residents worried about adding more children to local school districts.

Valerie Van Cleef from Coach Realtors, pointed out there is not a huge inventory on Long Island for condos and prices tend to be high. Typical buyers are 55 or older and are priced out of the condo market unless they are willing to move out east and accept less amenities. In Nassau County, the highest condo is listed at 5.45 million at The Ritz-Carlton Residences and in Suffolk County, starting at 2 million in Sag Harbor.

Questions from the audience targeted additional challenges in condo development such as the effects of density caps on affordable housing in communities. In Suffolk County, lack of sewers make development difficult and in various towns, the constant parallel reviews and bureaucracy slows down the process to such a degree as to put every project at risk for market change.

View the Getting Condominiums Built Panel here.

Job Development

The Job Development panel featured a number of local professionals who have been working to both bring new jobs to the island and help create opportunities for local residents.  Kristen Jarnagin from Discover Long Island moderated and opened the panel by talking about the future of the region.  She noted the importance of tourism and how it helps to create new jobs and raise the quality of life for residents. 

Paul Trapani from LISTnet was next up, talking about software and technology are a growing industry on Long Island.  Often people don’t realize just how deeply ingrained technology is in the region.  Hofstra, NYIT, and Hunter business school all have in-depth teaching programs.  It also leads to higher paying jobs and more prosperity in the region, and should be an important part of promoting Long Island to younger residents while helping to attract new people to the area.

David Sprintzen from Long Island University spoke next on the possibility of a state employee ownership center that could help develop and promote employee ownership of their business.  This has been done in other states, providing a possible model for NYS.  This could help with succession plans in local small businesses where owners who are ready to shut down a business for one reason or another could instead sell that business to its employees.  This could help to keep employment more steady in the region.

The next panelist to speak was Patrick Boyle from Ignite Long Island.  He represent Long Island manufacturers, over 3,000 separate companies with 78,000 jobs on Long Island.  He talked about solutions for an industry that is facing an aging population with a lack of skilled workers coming into the workforce.  His group is partnering with national and regional partners to organize Long Island’s first manufacturing apprenticeship

Mitch Pally of the Long Island Builder’s Institute spoke on the need to increase housing in all sectors on Long Island.  He talked about the need for workers to have a place to live whether its’s a single family home or a studio apartment.  The changing nature of Long Island is evident as is the need to work with all partners to create housing in unique regions.  The goal should be to create a clean, efficient environment for residents where they can set down roots, sometimes in places that have never been designed for housing before.

The panel then engaged in a robust discussion that focused on the need for new jobs at all levels in order to keep younger residents in the region.  Panelists talked about how housing can complement this if it can grow and innovate along with local jobs.  They also talked about the need for infrastructure in the region, such as convention center, that could attract new and different types of events.  Speakers also touched on the need for higher quality jobs that can develop a cooperative workforce, which tends to be much more productive and sustainable.  They also emphasized that there is a lot to love about the Long Island region but that there is still more work to do in order to promote and grow it.

View the Job Development Panel here.

Project Financing & IDAs

This panel, moderated by Sean Cronin of Cronin & Cronin examined the role that Industrial Development Associations (IDA) across the island play in financing projects in the region.  It covered IDA’s at both the Town and County levels, with representatives from each speaking.  The panel featured a robust dialogue on best practices for IDA’s and their role in both the region and local communities.

William Mannix, the Director of the Town of Islip IDA, introduced himself first and talked about how his organization works to maintain the local economic ecosystem.  He also stated that part of his IDA’s goal is also to grow the local economy through their efforts.

Shelley Brazley, who is the representative to the Nassau County IDA from the Village of Hempstead, spoke next on her role as both board member of the IDA and advocate for the Village.  She also sits on a number of other boards and committees, and tries to represent the community in all that she does.

The next speaker was Tony Catapano, the Executive Director from the Suffolk County IDA, and he spoke briefly on his years of experience as a member of the IDA board.  He noted that his IDA has a staff of five individuals that serve in support of a seven-member Board of Directors. 

Richie Kessel, Chairman of the Nassau County IDA, was the next panelist.  He noted that his board is filled with community representatives who volunteer their time to improve the local area.  He also noted that affordable and workforce housing are a priority for Nassau County, and represents a critical part of their mission.

The final panelist to introduce themselves was Harry Coghlan, who is the CEO of the Nassau County IDA.  Mr. Coghlan noted that his background is from the private sector and that he feels this point of view brings value to how the IDA looks at projects.

Mr. Cronin opened the discussion portion of the panel by asking what exactly the IDA’s role is in bringing prosperity to the region.  The panel talked about being able to provide funding to local projects and benefits to communities across Long Island.  This included the reduction or elimination of taxes for both mortgages and construction equipment for projects.  The other primary tool is PILOT programs, which can provide long-term cost certainty for projects and allowing them to better plan future investments in local properties.

The panel also covered how IDA’s like to establish relationships with developers and keep tabs on projects as they advance.  This is done over a number of years and is usually an ongoing process where the benefits are weighed against the costs to both the developer and community.  It’s usually done through public hearings and inspections of ongoing projects.

The panel talked on a few other important issues as well, including best practices for communicating with local residents, different metrics for measuring success with IDA’s, criteria that are looked at when approving a project for tax breaks, how to make sure jobs being created go to local community residents, and other topics as well.

View the Project Financing & IDAs Panel here.

Long Island Transportation
Projects & Alternatives

This panel focused on how to make transit investments a priority during a critical time for Long Island downtowns as numerous local communities look to grow and expand.  They talked about necessary transit services for growth as well as current projects underway.

Gerry Bogacz from the NY Metropolitan Transportation Council (NYMTC) moderated, beginning the panel by giving a brief overview.  He stated that the panel sought to explore projects that we underway as well as identify opportunities that exist to combine successful downtown revitalization with much needed infrastructure.  He also talked quickly about NYMTC’s new transportation improvement plan, which the roadmap for how funding will be used in NYC and on Long Island, both federal and state dollars.

Phil Eng, president of Long Island Railroad (LIRR), was the first speaker and talked about major infrastructure investments that are going on across NY.  These projects represent a major shift in recent policy that has seen a rise in investment for transportation projects.  This policy has allowed NYS to build for the future, which should create a fusion of various methods of transportation.  Mr. Eng also spent time talking about the various projects specific to LIRR including East Side Access and the Main Lin Expansion, among others.

Jack Khzouz of NICE Bus was the next panelist, and brought a message of creating a seamless transit system.  NICE has been working towards this goal as one of the largest transportation systems in the country with 26 million riders per year.  As an important part of the local transportation system, NICE works to support growth of both LIRR and local downtowns.  This means addressing a number of issues, which includes mitigating traffic, creating connections between transportation systems, and even dealing with parking in local villages.  The ultimate goal is to move people quickly and efficiently across Nassau County.

The third speaker was Mark Epstein of the LIRR Commuter’s Council, who spoke on the rider’s perspective of transportation.  What riders are really looking for is a safe, reliable, and affordable service to help move residents.  This can help to benefit Long Island, which has a large number of commuters who can use local transportation upwards of 3 hours per day.  Creating a strong public transportation system can have benefits that include retaining younger residents, improving service and capacity, improving the local economy, and growing local communities.  He also called for a bi-county LI Parking Authority to help address issues that arise with increased ridership.

James Bonner from the NY & Atlantic Railway was the next speaker and talked about how critical his company is to Long Island even if it’s one of the lesser known services in the region.  The Railway network brings a lot of freight on and off the island, which helps to reduce traffic on local roads.  The company has seen a lot of growth, and really expanded in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.  He also talked about how the company strives to benefit the local community in a smart way by providing both employment and a public benefit through reduction of traffic and carbon emissions.

The next panelist to speak was Jacob Greig of Liftango.  Mr. Greig talked about how his company, which is new to region, began in Newcastle, Australia as a solution to a lot of the same sort of problems seen on Long Island.  As a small city near Sydney, Newcastle saw a lot of their youth leaving for the bigger metropolitan area and embraced private automobiles.  Liftango attempted to help with this by creating a Shared Mobility Platform, which strives to connect riders with transportation options that include carpooling, vanpooling, and on-demand bussing.  He also noted that it’s an uphill battle fighting congestion and the marketing of big car companies in spite of such an extensive transportation system.

The final speaker on panel was Dan Baer from WSP, who talked about an opportunity to expand the Northeast rail corridor.  This plan, initiated in 2012, will help get Long Islanders from their local areas to the East Coast from Washington DC to Boston.  It works with agencies along the corridor and will try to incorporate growth patterns.  Focus will be on improving passenger service and experience while also helping to connect freight lines along the corridor.  The Tier 1 environmental impact statement of the plan was approved in 2016 and is considered a long team plan that forecasts through to 2040.

View the Long Island Transportation
Projects & Alternatives Panel here.

Long Island’s Energy Present

Long Island Energy Present panel moderated by John Keating of PSEG and focuses on what’s on the short term horizon for the energy industry on Long Island.

Mike Deering from LIPA started with what Long Island is doing with regards to the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act that was recently passed.  They are currently working on clean fuel to decarbonize the economy with offshore wind an abundant source.  The goal is to 100% carbon free by 2040.  Currently transportation and buildings are the two largest carbon sinks.  Electric vehicles and electric heat can make significant reductions in those sectors.  Currently there is a declining or flat electric load.  With the conversion to electric vehicles and heating there will be a rise in electric demand, but it will be beneficial demand.  They plan to have 9000MW of offshore wind, and the current issue is to find the best locations to interconnect with off shore wind.  They are working on integrating existing plants to work with renewables and there has been a 325% increase in investment including raising substations, strengthening infrastructure and supporting economic development.

The proposed 2020 budget includes $291 million for clean energy, $94 million for energy efficiency, and $41 million for rooftop solar.  They are also including a feed in tariff of 20MW for solar for low to moderate income customers.

Mike Voltz of PSEG described what they are doing today to help their customers save energy and save money.  Since 2013, they have been able to keep demand flat with use of efficiency programs. Every year they are saving 1.5% from sales to reduce demand.  One program is to encourage the use of heat pumps which work similar to a refrigerator.  They extract heat from air, even when cold outside and are 300% efficient meaning they generate 3 BTUs of energy for every 1 BTU put in.  They are also finalizing the rebates for 2020 which will encourage heat pumps- up to $1000/ton.  The rebates are for whole house solution that use a smart thermostat. The goal is to optimize use of electricity and only use back up fuel when necessary.  Ductless mini splits will have the same rebates.

They are focusing on beneficial electrification- using electric vehicles to replace gasoline powered ones, heat pumps to replace oil or natural gas.  EVs charge during off peak times and heat pumps also use energy of peak which is more efficient for overall system. Even with Long Island’s electric rates, electric vehicles cost about 5.5 cents per mile, which is about half as much as gas at 11 cents per mile.  Smart meters are more efficient to read, should be in effect by 2021 or 2022.  They can be used to see usage and take advantage of off peak rates.

Keith Rooney from National Grid described how they are working on repurposing the company to be a clean energy company.  With recent acquisitions, they have converted more solar customers than gas customers.  A new project near the Kosciusko Bridge will convert human waste to energy.  They are also offering rebates to employees to buy electric vehicles.

They have come to an agreement on NESE and lifted the moratorium.  It is a two year proposal with three pieces. First, a $36 million investment- $20 million of that goes to renewables, $8 million to energy efficiency, and $7 million for customer assistance, with the remainder for the auditor.  Second, there is a short term-demand response program, which incentivizes the biggest customers to get off gas during peak periods and also includes efficiency improvements and CNG trucks to get through winter. Finally the third piece is a long term negotiation with the Public Service Commission for a long term agreement on renewables as well as the pipeline which will involve taking input from customers and stakeholders.  They plan to have that agreement by June of 2020.

Finally, David Scheiren of Empower Solar introduced his company, founded in 2003, with 100 employees in Nassau.  Most people believe that clean energy is national security, economic security, and climate security imperative and they are working towards that.  On Long Island, they have mostly rooftop installations with some ground mount including the Estee Lauder facility in Melville and a ground mount system in Brentwood which is a community solar program.  Commercial customers have two ways to go solar.  They can reduce your own bills if they own and use the building or through community solar which puts solar on building to sell to off-site subscribers.  This enables a building owner to host the system and monetize their roof.  Many new residential solar installations are pairing with Tesla power wall systems which are battery storage systems. 

With the CLCPA, electric load will dramatically increase.  It sets a statewide goal and establishes a council comprised of state and private sector officials to decide how does it actually manifest.  It will propose a fundamental shift on LI., as we are an order of magnitude off from where we need to be.  We need to get 10 GW extra solar in our area.  One issue that is slowing progress are substations- on Long Island, the cost to connect is far higher than other regions.  Currently PSEG/LIPA establishing a working group with industry to work on this issue. 

View the Long Island’s Energy Present Panel here.

 Networking Luncheon

The Summit’s Luncheon was opened with a prayer by Pastor Charles Roberts of the Salvation Army, Trudy Fitzimmons, Co-chair of Vision LI, led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance and Nassau County Legislator Laura Schaefer sang the National Anthem.

Vision LI Director Eric Alexander thanked those in attendance, Vision Board and Staff and the Sponsors of the Summit, all of which made the day possible.  Special thanks was given to the ongoing Lead Sponsorship from 1st Equity Title’s Maribeth Pietropaoli

Phillip Eng, President of the Long Island Railroad, spoke about the unprecedented amount of work going on at the LIRR as a result of the State’s 6 billion dollar investment in modernization and improvements. Mr. Eng described this work as a critical piece to successful Transit Oriented Development which is the center of many Main Street efforts.

Mr. Eng stated that “We have a $6 billion investment in modernizing and improving LIRR and that’s critical to everything that everyone in this room is looking to do because our tentacles go all across Long Island.  We’re part of vibrant communities and making sure the economy is sustainable and continues to grow.”

Keith Rooney, Director Customer, Community and Government Relations, National Grid, provided a high level update on the status of the company’s imposed moratorium. National Grid recently lifted the moratorium after reaching a 2 year agreement with NYS. As a result, National Grid will be giving 36 million dollars to the State, of that, 20 million will be put into clean renewable energy, 8 million will go into energy efficiency programs and 7 million will go into a customer assistance program to help those affected by the moratorium. Regarding short term solutions, National Grid approached its biggest commercial customers on LI incentivizing them to not burn gas on the coldest days of the year.

Mr. Rooney noted that National Grid is “not just pounding the floor for a pipeline.  We are a clean energy company.  We are investing a lot of money in renewables, clean energy, solar and wind.  That is exciting because we’re going to change the way we do business over the next decade and beyond. Together we’ll get through this and we’ll bring energy to life.”

Regarding long term solutions, National Grid agreed to hold town hall meeting with political officials, academics and stakeholders to fashion an agreement to be implemented by the winter of 2021.   Mr. Rooney thanked Vision and the LI Main Street Alliance for their efforts at bringing local voices to the energy debate.

Hon. Laura Curran, Nassau County Executive, restated her strong belief that for successful and vibrant downtowns, smart growth and transit oriented development must be part of the equation. Keeping young people on the Island takes a mix of affordable housing, including more diverse rental options, and investment into innovative industries, such as green jobs. The County Executive noted that the Nassau IDA is doing just that, and doing it with transparency and accountability. Regarding Newsday’s recent investigation revealing widespread housing discrimination on Long Island, the County Executive advised there is a bipartisan plan to combat this discrimination from the County.

The Executive also talked about the future of development on Long Island, saying “We all agree that Smart Growth is the way to go.  That Transit Oriented Development is the way to go for a successful, vibrant, and economically sustainable future.  We’re all working together to make Nassau County and Long Island a better place, a great place, to live, work and play.”

Hon. Steve Bellone, Suffolk County Executive, voiced similar concerns as his Nassau County counterpart, stating we have been given a real wake up call about discrimination in housing on LI and we must work together to make this a thing of the past. County Executive Bellone highlighted the need for the region to work together on issues such as sewers to improve water quality and economic development on Long Island.

“We are one island,” he said.  “The border between the counties is not a real thing.  We are one region and we have to be working together.  I think the theme here of collaboration and connection is vitally important and it’s what we’ve tried to do in Suffolk County.”

New York State Senator James Gaughran outlined some critical challenges the State faces, such as a 6.1 billion dollar budget gap, however, he and his fellow LI Senators will continue to work together to make sure Long Island gets its fair share when it comes to funding for economic development, education, sewers, and upgraded water supply.  Senator Gaughran thanked the LI Lobby Coalition for their assistance in Albany in the last session as well.

“I want you to know that your senators from Long Island are going to be working every single day we can to make sure that Long Island gets, not just what it deserves, but what it needs so that we can continue to move forward,” the Senator said.

New York State Senator Anna Kaplan expressed the importance of investing in our communities in order to help businesses thrive. “Investments in our communities become significant forces for our economic development,” she stated.  “It helps the small businesses throughout our communities and is a very good basis for all of our communities when they know that their businesses are thriving.”

Senator Kaplan gave a quick review of last year’s accomplishments, included making the 2% tax cap permanent, record funding for public schools, elimination of internet tax advantages helping small businesses, passage of the Child Victims Act and the Red Flag Law. All done, she stressed, through collaboration.

Rebecca D’Eloia, Senior Vice President of RXR Reality and Project Executive of the Nassau HUB project was the featured speaker.   She presented an update on the status of the development of the 72 acres around the Nassau Coliseum. The thread running through the entire project is innovation.  An emphasis is being placed on forward thinking housing, flexible scalability office space, dynamic open spaces, sustainable and renewable infrastructure, adaptable parking, multimodal transit, and destination entertainment. Ms. D’Eloia highlighted the importance of collaborative community engagement.

According to Ms. D’Eloia, “We don’t just look at development as buildings.  We look at development as building communities.  You’ll often hear our CEO Scott Rechler say ‘Doing good while doing well means doing better.’  That is a mantra that trickles down throughout RXR.” To that end, a community benefits advisory committee has been created to ensure that this project reaches its fullest potential. Ms. D’Eloia underscored that smart growth is at the heart of the HUB’s DNA.

The Nassau HUB: Next Steps Coalition comprised of local civics and chambers, had received and earlier presentation from Ms. D’Eloia.  Many of those members were in the audience and very happy to hear an update in advance of a project submission to the Town of Hempstead.

Ian Wilder, Executive Director of Long Island Housing Services, spoke regarding his agency’s role in promoting fair housing. LI Housing Services gets about $300,000 in federal funding in order to test, investigate, organize outreach and education on fair housing. On February 14, the agency’s funding will end and HUD has still not put out the next grant proposal.

Mr. Wilder appealed to the audience, “Call your Congresspeople, call your US Senators, and tell them that HUD needs to release the enforcement funds that they already allocated.  The money’s there, it’s just not being spent.”

Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment and Co-chair of the Long Island Lobby Coalition, discussed the diversity of the Long Island Lobby Coalition, which consists of environmentalists, business, civics, labor, all with one common purpose, accomplish what is best for Long Island. Some of the Coalition’s recent successes include funding for sewer infrastructure, safe streets, and buses. Coming full circle from the morning, Ms. Esposito articulated the best way to reach success is through collaboration and consensus.  She also pushed for support on an important bill protecting our groundwater. 

“Today’s theme is about collaboration and cooperation and that’s exactly how the Long Island Lobby Coalition was founded,” she said.  “It’s all different groups.  Civic leaders, small business representatives, chambers of commerce, labor leaders, environmental groups, and smart growth groups all come together and say, ‘Let’s not talk about what we disagree with, let’s figure out what we agree on.'”

Tawaun Weber, Assistant Director for Vision Long Island closed the lunch program by speaking on the upcoming Long Island Smart Growth Awards in June.   She also thanked Bank of America for supporting Vision with a $30,000 community grant that will help us to continue our work in both Nassau and Suffolk counties.

View the Video from the Luncheon here.

Major Development Projects

David Winzelberg of the Long Island Business News moderated the Major Development Projects panel which covers over $8 billion of development.

Chris Kelly of Tritec gave an update on Station Square, the new name for the Ronkonkoma Hub development.  It is being built in phases, with phase one known as “the Alston” and consisting of 489 apartments in 6 buildings on 11 acres, underway.  The maximum density plan includes 1450 residential units, 360,000 square feet of office, 195,000 square feet of retail, and 60,000 square feet of hospitality and community space.    Phase two will be on the corner of Hawkins and Railroad, and they are preparing the site plan to file hopefully early next year.  There is lots of infrastructure going in, including underground parking that needs to be figured out first before above ground work can be finalized.  They are using placemaking to deal with the grade changes on site to make it attractive to people.

John Cameron of Cameron Engineering and the Long Island Regional Planning Council discussed some of the projects around the island as well as the proposed project between the Ronkonkoma Station and MacArthur Airport.  There will be no residential on south side of the tracks due to both proximity to the airport and not wanting to be in competition with Tritec development on the north side, but rather complementary to it.  Originally it was planned to be an arena project, then Belmont was announced just after submitted proposal.  This site is the best served by transit on the island, with the second busiest train station and the primary airport on the island.  Currently there is no convention center east of the Javits Center, forcing Brookhaven National Labs to use hotels in Brooklyn for large events.  The current proposal includes a convention center as well as medical research at the site, a healthcare network, and also sports and entertainment including a possible soccer stadium and or hockey facility.

Island wide, we don’t need to add people and cars without capitalizing on our infrastructure.  East Side Access and the Third Track project provide an opportunity to grow and improve.  Cameron Engineering recently completed new overlay zoning in Lawrence and Inwood which will be transformative.  It will allow five stories near the train station and 3 stories further out.  It also will revise parking requirements, to encourage more walkability and more transit use.  Projects in comformance of the code can bypass site plan approval which can save over a year of processing time.

David Wolkoff gave updates on Heartland Town Square.  They were approved for the first phase of the first phase about a year and a half ago and are moving forward.  The total project includes 9000 units, three million square feet of office, and one million square feet of retail, but the retail may change given current conditions.  They aren’t proposing traditional retail, but rather to cater to younger generations to keep them here including restaurants, nightlife, and outdoor areas for concerts.  There have been some political challenges, but they are getting past those, as well as some technical and financial challenges including the high cost of infrastructure which they are working out.  Hopefully, they will be starting in a year and they are seeing light at the end of the tunnel, that’s getting very bright. 

After the initial project presentations, there was discussion about the various types of financing available for large projects and how that affects the sequence in which projects are built.

View the Major Development Projects Panel here.

“Who Will Tell the People” Media Panel

Moderator Jaci Clement, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of Fair Media Council, started off the workshop by addressing the recent headlines which declare local newspapers are dying. Although the number of papers has declined, Ms. Clement noted, newspapers are evolving into multi media platforms, which in reality means there is more news now than ever before. Media consolidation is not as big as it was in the past and there are more family owned and start up news organizations appearing on the scene.

Steven Blank, Editor and Publisher of Blank Slate Media, pointed out what he described as the enormous difference between traditional paper and online news. When a media group goes from paper to online, you don’t need the same number of reporters, fewer staff members, and shrinking depth of coverage. The reason, the economics between the two are entirely different. Online sites do not generate the same amount of revenue as traditional papers.

Scott Brinton, Executive Editor of Herald Community Newspapers, called it a false narrative that community newspapers are dying, it’s only the non-sustainable models which end up going out of business.  Media needs to provide news relevant to people’s lives in order to stay in business. For example, both the Herald and Newsday are adding jobs and staff because they are able to change with the shifting demands of their readership.

Cecilia Dowd, former FIOS reporter, discussed the issue of broadcast competition. Competition can have a negative impact on the substance of stories. In the race to get content out, a story might make its way to the public before it’s ready. Broadcast has smaller number of reporters. When reporters are not invested in the community they serve, stories suffer. Who comes to you with good stories? Who are your sources? Ms. Dowd stressed the importance of being invested in the community you serve, not just use the time in a certain community simply as a stepping stone.

Pam Robinson, Editor/Publisher Huntington Now, a digital only news publication, noted her largest demographic is women between ages of 30 and 45. She stated the publication makes it a point to cover the Latino community in a way that isn’t always about crime. She explained that her biggest readership is for government news, particularly zoning and planning. Ms. Robinson revealed that when you are online only, you are sometimes forced to go against your better standards because you feel pressure to respond to the postings of the many people that aren’t journalists.

James Madore, Newsday, got to the heart of what makes a successful newspaper. The value of any media organization is its content. Consumers of news and producers of news are going through changes together. Newspapers have to adapt to whatever platform its readership chooses. For example, Newsday is moving into live streaming. Mr. Madore also highlighted the more recent cooperation between media publications on the non-editorial side. One example, it is the New York Times that prints Newsday and it is Newsday that delivers the Times on Long Island. This type of cooperation helps them both succeed.

Questions touched upon by the audience included the concept of “fake” news. It was the panels conclusion that there needs to be more public education to help readers become good news consumers.

View the “Who Will Tell the People” Media Panel here.

Building Trust Through Community Outreach

The Building Trust through Community Outreach panel opened with a brief introduction from each speaker before moving into current projects that can be considered successes on Long Island.  Vision Long Island’s Tawaun Weber moderated, asking for a show of hands for people who are activists in their local communities.  She also pointed out Vision Long Island board member Anthony Bartone from Bartone & Terwilliger in the audience, who has had recent success dealing with local communities to get projects done on Long Island.

Each panelist then gave a brief update on the communities they are active in beginning with Karen Montalbano from the Baldwin Civic Association.  She painted a picture of an active community with several projects being spearheaded by local residents.  Ms. Montalbano talked about receiving the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) grant from New York State as the big thing going on in her area, but how it was just one part of the ongoing efforts in the community.  She noted that there is also new zoning being finalized, a complete streets program, a drainage program, and numerous studies going on.

Linda Henninger from the Kings Park Civic Association was next and talked about excitement from the headway being made in the downtown.  This includes securing funding and approval for new sewers in the downtown, working on a new downtown plan, and even setting up a concert series for local residents.  All of this came about thanks to residents and businesses working hand in hand to help benefit the community and put Kings Park on the right track for development.

The next update came from Debbie Cavanaugh from the Central Islip Coalition for the Good Neighbors, who talked about her group’s efforts to improve their local community.  This included creating a new playground in partnership with Disney as well as a new development being worked on that will provide much-needed housing.  She also talked about working with the local government and how she sits on a community task force that received a grant to combat gangs.

Retha Fernandez from the Urban League of Long Island talked next on the Urban League’s role in the region and how they worked to help empower communities region-wide.  A big success they have had is the launch of the equity profile of Long Island in 2017, which is a report that found that racial inequity across the region led to a loss of money in GDP.  This is due to a number of factors including lack of education, economics, transportation, air quality, environment, and health among others.  Elimination of those disparities is their goal and they have worked to help identify best ways to do that by working with local governments and organizations.

The next panelist to speak was Louis Bekofsky of VHB, who talked about his engineering firm’s work with local towns and villages while representing developers.  They have been a part of a DRI process as well, which is a program they consider to be a big success on Long Island.  Mr. Bekofsky also talked about the importance of communicating with residents early and often and how outreach is a vital part of the process.  He noted that there is value in that process for developers.

The final speaker was Marcos Maldanado from McBride Consulting who is also a Brentwood community advocate.  He talked about the process Brentwood went through to get a new community center in the last couple of years.  Mr. Maldanado noted that the residents agreed that a community space was needed after the community came to a consensus that there weren’t enough safe spaces for youth.  This project came about because it was a priority from a community standpoint and that State leaders and non-profits worked with residents to make it happen.

The panelists then talked about some of the specifics of the communities that they represented, touching on demographics and the resiliency of local residents when it comes to the challenges of new projects in their downtowns.  They also talked about differences depending on the community and noted that it was important to find a community vision that matched the downtown looking to implement it.  Once the funding came it was important to be ready to move forward with the projects.  One thing that was ubiquitous among all the different communities was the need for local residents and business owners to both speak up and show up in order to affect positive change that communities can get behind.

View the Building Trust Through
Community Outreach Panel here.

New Elected Officials Orientation

Special thanks to those who participated in our new elected officials orientation.  Town of Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim and Village of Westbury Mayor Peter Cavallaro co-hosted this session as we have seen their leadership in a bipartisan manner advancing walkable communities and downtown housing development.   This year’s participants included: Marianne Dalimonte, Town of North Hempstead Councilwoman-elect

Veronica Lurvey, Town of North Hempstead Councilwoman, Chris Carini, Town of Hempstead Councilman- elect, Steve Labriola, Town of Oyster Bay Councilman, Laura Maier, Town of Oyster Bay Councilwoman-elect, Tom Lohmann, Town of Smithtown Councilman, Anthony Picorello, Suffolk County Legislator-elect and Mercy Smith, Village of Northport Trustee.  

This session was an opportunity for newly elected officials to think about how to advance Main Street revitalization, secure grant funding and advance their policy goals while sharing ideas with their colleagues.   Discussion focused also on handling social media in a healthy manner and many strategies to connect with local constituents to ensure bottom up planning. 

What was notable and very heartening was the lack of partisanship associated with the range of issues covered in the session and at the Summit at large.  We hope the participants can continue to work across party lines and be a resource for each other in the coming years of their terms.

Thanks to the elected officials in attendance who took information back to their districts to solve problems.

Public Officials

Those in attendance this year included:

Hon. Monica Martinez, NYS Senator
Hon. James Gaughran, NYS Senator
Hon. Anna Kaplan, NYS Senator
Hon. Phil Boyle, NYS Senator
Hon. Charles Lavine, NYS Assemblyman
Hon. Michael Fitzpatrick, NYS Assemblyman
Hon. Judy Griffin, NYS Assemblywoman
Hon. Michael Montesano, NYS Assemblyman
Hon. Kimberly Jean-Pierre, NYS Assemblywoman
Hon. Mike LiPetri, NYS Assemblyman

Hon. Laura Curran, Nassau County Executive
Hon. Rich Nicollelo, Nassau County Presiding Officer
Hon. Denise Ford, Nassau County Legislator
Hon. Ellen Birnbaum, Nassau County, Nassau County Legislator
Hon. Laura Schaefer, Nassau County, Nassau County Legislator
Hon. Carrie Solages, Nassau County, Nassau County Legislator
Hon. Debra Mule, Nassau County Legislator

Hon. Steve Bellone, Suffolk County Executive
Hon. Kevin McCaffrey, Suffolk County Legislator
Hon. Susan Berland, Suffolk County Legislator
Hon. Steve Flotteron, Suffolk County Legislator
Hon. Rudy Sunderman, Suffolk County Legislator
Anthony Piccorillo, Suffolk County Legislator-elect

Hon. Richard Schaffer, Town of Babylon Supervisor
Hon. Tony Martinez, Town of Babylon, Deputy Supervisor
Hon. Anthony Mannetta, Town of Babylon, Councilman

Hon. Valerie Cartwright, Town of Brookhaven, Councilwoman
Hon. Mike Loguercio, Town of Brookhaven Councilman

Hon. Don Clavin, Town of Hempstead Supervisor-elect
Hon. Anthony D’Esposito, Town of Hempstead Councilman
Chris Carini, Town of Hempstead Councilman -elect

Hon. Chad Lupinacci, Town of Huntington Supervisor
Hon. Joan Cergol, Town of Huntington Councilwoman

Hon. Angie Carpenter, Town of Islip Supervisor

Hon. Judi Bosworth, Town of North Hempstead Supervisor
Hon. Veronica Lurvey, Town of North Hempstead Councilwoman
Marianne Dalimonte, Town of North Hempstead Councilwoman-elect
Hon. Wayne Wink, Town of North Hempstead Clerk

Hon. Joseph Saladino, Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor
Hon. Steve Labriola, Town of Oyster Bay Councilman
Laura Maier, Town of Oyster Bay Councilwoman-elect

Hon. Ed Werheim, Town of Smithtown Supervisor
Hon. Tom Lohmann, Town of Smithtown, Deputy Supervisor
Hon. Tom McCarthy, Town of Smithtown Councilman
Hon. Lisa Inzerillo, Town of Smithtown Councilwoman

Hon. Ralph Scordino, Village of Babylon
Hon. Nicole Rhodes, Village of Brightwaters
Hon. John Valdini, Village of Brightwaters
Hon. Ralph Eckstrand, Village of Farmingdale
Brian Harty, Village of Farmingdale
Hon. Walter Priestley, Village of Farmingdale
Hon. Jorge Martinez, Village of Freeport
Hon. Jean Celender, Village of Great Neck Plaza
Hon. Waylon Hobbes, Village of Hempstead
Hon. RJ Renna, Village of Lindenhurst
Hon. Mike Lavorata, Village of Lindenhurst
John Giordano, Village of Lynbrook
Hon. Dennis Walsh, Village of Mineola
Hon. Damon McMullen Village of Northport
Hon. Mercy Smith, Village of Northport
Hon. Barbara Donno, Village of Plandome
Hon. Sarah Oral, Village of Roslyn
Hon. Peter Cavallaro, Village of Westbury
Hon. William Wise, Village of Westbury
Hon. Steven Corte, Village of Westbury
Hon. Beumont Jefferson, Village of Westbury
Hon. Ed Fare, Village of Valley Stream

Hon. Marsha Silverman, City of Glen Cove
Hon. Elisabeth Treston, City of Long Beach

Warren Tackenberg, NCVOA, former Village of New Hyde Park Mayor
Ralph Krietzman, NCVOA, former Village of Great Neck Mayor
Steve Levy, former Suffolk County Executive
Jack Martins, former NYS Senator
Brian Foley, former NYS Senator
Edward Hennessey, former NYS Assemblyman
Michele Schimel, former NYS Assemblywoman
Connie Kepert, former Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman
George Graf, former Mayor Village of Farmingdale
Vivian Viloria Fischer, former Suffolk Legislator
Jon Kaiman, former Town of N. Hempstead Supervisor
Barbara Blass, former Town of Rivheread Councilwoman
Ken Christensen, former Town of Huntington Councilman
Stuart Besen, former Town of Huntington Councilman
Maura Sperry, former Mayor Village of Mastic Beach

Magda Campbell, Office of US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
Lisa Santeramo, Office of NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo
Theresa Santoro, Office of NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo
Joe Galante, Office of NYS Comptroller Tom Dinapoli
Mike Caplace, Office of NYS Comptroller Tom Dinapoli
Rene Fichter, Office of Nassau County DA Madeline Singas
Eva Grigowski, Office of Suffolk County Legislator Rob Calarco
Elizabeth Alexander, Office of Legislator Doc Spencer

Check out these quotes
from some of our speakers:

Vision Long Island Director & convener of the LI Main Street Alliance, Eric Alexander said ”The theme this year is communication and collaboration.   In an increasingly polarized world, driven by big business, government and media, it is important for Long Islanders to keep their focus local where folks still know how to work together.  As we head into 2020 the forces of division will continue and on a local level we have the opportunity to lock arms and work together to meet the needs of our local residents and businesses while advancing needed jobs, housing, infrastructure and quality of life concerns.  Our collective accomplishments in our downtowns over the last 20 years have only happened through bottom up planning – lets continue that trend and not take part in the division.”
Village of Westbury Mayor Peter Cavallaro approved a historic TOD zoning plan last night and said “The adoption of our new TOD zone culminates the long process in which we carefully reviewed and analyzed the area, and engaged with the public and stakeholders to develop what we believe to be the most state-of-the art, dynamic TOD zoning adopted on Long Island.  We are grateful that we had the DRI funding available to undertake this important project.   The rezoning is historic for Westbury, and I am certain that it will have the desired impact of creating more and diverse housing options, retaining our seniors in place, attracting new residents, including, millennials, and adding so many other positive things to the community.”
“I am eager to take on a more direct leadership role in the area of transformative development in Hempstead Town as the incoming Supervisor,” said Hempstead Town Supervisor-elect Don Clavin said. “A re-imagined downtown Baldwin and progressive development at the HUB are major priorities for me. Transformative projects that accommodate our needs for next generation housing, as well as business, technology, education, medicine, retail and entertainment, among other areas, will boost local commerce, spur job creation.  Thank you to Eric Alexander and Vision Long Island for hosting this important summit and for an abiding commitment to the future of Long Island’s towns, cities and villages.”
“Without a spirit of collaboration, consensus building, bi-partisanship and respect for one another, little can get accomplished in government, whether in Washington or at a local level. I do think that local government officials here on Long Island realize the importance of collaboration and that it is the foundation of getting projects done. The Smart growth Summit always provides an opportunity to share ideas with neighboring towns and learn from leaders in the field of smart growth planning. This exchange of ideas is what will bring us a better future here on Long Island,” said North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth
“In the Town of Babylon, we take pride in pursuing initiatives that align with the smart growth principles espoused by Vision Long Island.  Our philosophy towards development and revitalization, whether in Wyandanch, Copiague or elsewhere throughout the town, will continue to rely on values that promote livable, sustainable and responsible growth that is in line with the character and history of our neighborhoods. We look forward to continuing to work alongside Vision Long Island to support community-based planning initiatives not only in the Town of Babylon but all across Long Island.” said Rich Schaffer, Supervisor Town of Babylon
“Central Islip, located in the Town of Islip, is a perfect example of grass roots, bottom up development, inclusive of downtown revitalization and infrastructure investment. Last year, Central Islip was the winner of the NYS $10M Downtown Revitalization Grant. The Town is benefitting from numerous economic development efforts, such as the Gull Haven Commons 266 apartment unit development, recommended by the Central Islip Community Revitalization Plan, and with completion anticipated in 2020; the 184 unit Foxgate condominium development; SUSA Sports Soccer Complex and the Town’s new Animal Shelter, expected to open in the spring of 2020. Working together with our partners on the state, county and local levels, and our in-house Planning and Development and Economic Development teams, the Town is able to tactically plan growth, developing walkable communities for future generations,” said Town of Islip Supervisor Angie Carpenter.
Town of Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim said “The annual summit is an exceptional resource where the private sector and government can come together with the common goal of fostering smart growth in our communities. It’s an honor to be a part of the panel discussion, to share ideas and learn from others.”
Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino stated, “It’s always a pleasure to participate in the Smart Growth Summit, where we share our common vision to attract new employers, upgrade our infrastructure, enhance pedestrian safety, and provide smart housing solutions for residents.  Together, we are planning a better Long Island and keeping our communities the best places to live, work and raise a family.”
“I am looking forward again to participating in the exchange of ideas at Vision Long Island’s 2019 Long Island Smart Growth Summit,” said Huntington Town Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci. “I am excited to share the progress of economic and neighborhood revitalization across Huntington Station and our recent success in transforming the Town’s accessory apartment code to allow for new affordable housing opportunities for owners and renters.”
Farmingdale Mayor Ralph Ekstrand said that “Farmingdale continues to make infrastructure improvements with new parking lots and Residential streets along with designating the downtown business district as the ‘Culinary Quarter’ with restaurants for every taste.”
Lindenhurst Mayor Mike Lavorata said “We are very excited about our Downtown in Lindenhurst. As you know, we have spent the last few years working to create a family friendly place with new restaurants and attractions. We have opened 5 new restaurants, a Meade brewery, another microbrewery and expect that number to continue to increase. We also have three Arts attractions which include the South Shore theatre among them. Our walk ability study provides new ideas and recommendations to further our revitalization efforts. Finally, we have broken ground on the TriTec project which will attract new residents to our downtown as we seek to not only keep our young people here but also look to lure others to move to the Village of Lindenhurst and add to our successful growth!”
“Valley Stream is on the brink of a true resurgence.  There is tremendous interest in our LIRR area,  and we welcome all innovative, transit oriented development proposals.  With a mere half hour commute to New York City, Kennedy Airport and downtown Brooklyn, we are attracting young people, empty nesters and business professional who are seeking a vibrant environment to live in and enjoy.” said Village of Valley Stream Mayor Ed Fare
“The Smart Growth Summit brings together Long Island’s best and brightest to find solutions to our common concerns, and create realistic plans to revitalize our communities into the vibrant and thriving destinations Long Islanders deserve,” said Senator Anna M. Kaplan.  “I thank Eric Alexander and the entire team at Vision Long Island for their hard work to put on this important event, and their dedication to the improvement of our communities year-round.” 
“I’m so proud to once again to share my time with the makers, movers and shakers of Long Island,” LIRR President Phil Eng said. “It is because of the partnerships with government, community and business leaders that Long Island Rail Road has been able to deliver successfully on our modernization projects such as Third Track. I appreciate the opportunity to be at the forefront of discussions that will reshape how the railroad supports Long Island and its economic growth.”

Special thanks to the 1st Equity Title and RXR Realty for their Lead sponsorship.

Thanks also to our Gold sponsors National GridPSEG Long Islandthe Engel Burman Group & Lalezarian Properties.

Thank you to our Silver sponsors AECOMGreenman-Pedersen Inc., Ruskin Moscou FaltischekAT&TCameron Engineering, Heartland Business Center, Southern Land Company, Third Street Associates, Concern for Independent Living, H2M Architects + Engineers, Mill Creek Residential Trust, Brookfield Properties, Cronin & Cronin Law Firm, Terwilliger & Bartone Properties, Southwest Airlines, and VHB.

An overwhelming thanks to all of our Bronze sponsors for making the LI Smart Growth Summit a premier event for Long Islanders to come together: Albanese & Albanese, Certilman Balin, D&F Development Group, Forchelli Deegan Terrana, The Gitto Group, WSP, ESG, GRCH Architecture, Greenview Properties, Harras, Bloom & Archer, Jobco, Long Island Youth Summit, Posillico, Rivkin Radler Attorneys, Zyscovich Architects, BHC Architects, Blue & Gold Homes, Bohler Engineering, BJH Advisors, Caithness Long Island, Harris Beach Attorneys, Five Point Real Estate, GEI Consultants, Schuckman Realty, KOW ARMA Development Consultants, Long Island Board of Realtors, Jovia Financial, Hofstra University, Zucaro Construction, Meadowood Properties, McBride Consulting & Business Development Group, SUEZ, New York & Atlantic Railway, People’s United Bank, Plumber’s Local 200, Sahn Ward Coschignano, Suffolk County IDA, Empower Solar, DH2 Chauffeured Transportation, Beechwood Properties, Alumni Association of Old Westbury, Long Island Power Authorities, Trinity Solar, NYIT, Conifer Realty, Good Harvest Financial Group, NICE Bus, Quatela Chimeri PLLC, Stasi Brothers Asphalt, PW Grosser Consulting, TD Bank, Tritec Real Estate, St. Joseph’s College, Nassau County IDA, and Liftango.

Thank you to our Media Sponsors AARP Long Island, The Corridor, Herald Community Newspapers, Fair Media Council, Hicksville Chamber of Commerce, Long Island Business News, Blank Slate Media, Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce, Long Island Main Street Alliance, Suffolk County Alliance of Chambers of Commerce, Newsday, and Noticia.

Thank you to our Summit Supporters Crest Hollow Country Club, Omni Presenters, Video Masters, Michelle GT Photo Studio, Nothport Copy, and Minuteman Press Hicksville.

Check out some of the sights
from this year’s Summit:

Here is select press coverage
for the 18th Annual Summit!

Read pre-coverage for the event at
Long Island Business News here.

Read coverage of Major Projects discussed
at the Smart Growth Summut here.

Read the an op-ed from the Long Island Herald on
Rebecca D’Eloia’s Lunch presentation here.

Read the Island Now’s
coverage of the event here.

Read coverage of the top ten business stories of the past decade,
including downtown development, here.

Read Vision Director’s op-ed here.

We are now accepting nominations for
the 2020 Long Island Smart Growth Awards!

You can view a printable version of the flyer here.

Save the Date for the
2020 Long Island Smart Growth Summit!

December 4th, 2020

Please join us for our first event of the new year!

You can download a PDF version of this flyer here.

Special thanks to our Board members!

Vision Long Island
24 Woodbine Ave., Suite Two 
Northport, NY 11768 
Phone: 631-261-0242. Fax: 631-754-4452.

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Smart Growth Summit

More than 1,250 Long Islanders join together
to plan downtown revitalization and infrastructure!

Vision Long Island was proud to host the 17th Annual Smart Growth Summit, attended by over 1,250 business, community, and government leaders.  The theme of Long Islanders coming together on a local level without the distractions of national and large scale divisions dominated the day. The day featured a morning plenary session, 19 excellent workshops on a wide variety of subjects, engaging speakers and experts, and great networking. 

Over 135 speakers focused on topics related to downtown revitalization and infrastructure investment. Over 60 different Main Street redevelopment and water, sewer, energy and transportation projects were covered throughout the program. The event was also able to present a strong set of ideals for the future of downtowns, housing, environmental issues, transportation infrastructure, and jobs on Long Island.

Opening Remarks

This year’s Summit kicked off with one of the most highly attended breakfast sessions ever as the room was filled to capacity to hear the opening remarks and State of the Town and Villages panel.  The session would open with the Pledge of Allegiance being led by Newsday’s Joye Brown.

Eric Alexander, Director of Vision Long Island kicked off the day with a review of recent successful downtown and transit oriented development projects driven by community based planning.  He also presented the themes of the day which were placemaking – essentially the need to not just focus on housing investments but jobs, public space, safe streets, new retail, arts, culture and other amenities.  The second theme was local leadership which included the 40 civic and community based organizations in the room along with the 20+ chambers of commerce representing the downtown revitalization efforts across Long Island. 

Amy Kramer from AT&T New York provided opening remarks demonstrating their company’s commitment to bringing technology to our downtown business districts.  For the 4th year now they have sponsored the morning’s State of the Town’s and Villages panel and look forward to continued dialogue with local officials. 

State of the Towns and Villages

The 2018 State of the Towns and Villages panel featured Town of Islip Supervisor Angie Carpenter, Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine, Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino, Town of Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen, Town of Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci, Town of Riverhead Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith, Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth, Town of Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim, and Village of Farmingdale Mayor Ralph Ekstrand.

The State of the Town and Villages panel opened with moderator Joye Brown of Newsday, now on her 11th year guiding this conversation, asking if it was easier for governments to get things done in recent years, or if it was the same.  She followed that by asking if things were the same, drawing a tepid response from the officials, most of whom did not indicate one way or another.

Supervisor Ed Wehrheim spoke first on that, noting that change has been going on in Smithtown since he took office, running through a number of ongoing projects.  He would speak on the efforts for improved sewer infrastructure in local business districts, citing St. James, Smithtown proper, and Kings Park.  He went a little more in-depth on Kings Park, noting that a pump station is shovel-ready and simply waiting for approval from the state.  Zone changes have also been put into place that will allow for taller buildings in the Hauppauge Industrial Zone. He ended by pointing to 1.1 million square feet of commercial space in a form of development or approval, 800,000 square feet of which is currently underway.

Supervisor Joe Saladino spoke next on improvements in Oyster Bay, talking about how they have approved changes that have sped up the permit process for both residents and businesses.  The Town has also become the top Long Island Town for solar applications and has been able to lower taxes to make it easier for new residents.  Mr. Saladino would then talk about the Hicksville Downtown Revitalization process, and how they are trying to move forward with a TOD-focused plan surrounding the LIRR station.

Ms. Brown would use the subject of the ongoing revitalization to ask the panel if anyone was experiencing blowback from projects.  Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith of Riverhead spoke at that point, talking about finding the balance for her Town’s rural roots and new development.  She mentioned changes to Route 58, a regional shopping center, as well as revitalization efforts and new workforce housing in the downtown.  The recent approval of 5-story residential buildings has seen some pushback, however, causing Riverhead to look into how best to spread out new housing to fit into the character of the area.

The conversation turned next to Nassau, with Supervisor Laura Gillen from Hempstead talked about both the Nassau HUB and Belmont projects, which are among the largest currently going on.  Though they are still in the conceptual phase, the Town is trying to reach out to the community to make them part of the process before there is development.  She noted the importance of millennial housing at the HUB, and how necessary it is for Long Island to have a place for young people to live if we’re going to get them to stay in the region.  This makes it imperative to work with developers to create an environment to foster such housing to help keep not just younger people on the island, but their parents as well. 

Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci spoke next on the Town of Huntington spoke on the parking situation at the Cold Spring Harbor train station and how to improve it without adding a parking garage that the public was against.  He talked about a grant received from NYS, of which $7 million would go to Cold Spring Harbor for station improvements.  The plan will be to use the money for the solution, including possibly a minor parking structure or purchasing land surrounding the station.  He also indicated that Huntington is in talks with the local civic on solutions.

North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth talked next about progress at New Cassel, including the groundbreaking on a 77-unit affordable housing senior unit.  This came as a result of a new zoning change that allowed the acreage to be reduced from 5 to 2 and lowered the cut-off age for seniors to 55.  Supervisor Bosworth touched on the revitalization efforts centered on the Yes, We Can Community center.  She also spoke on issues surrounding parking and how difficult it can be when there’s no public will for a garage or asphalting over acres of property.  One solution is to change commuting habits, such as shuttles and other alternate ways to get people to the train station.

Town of Islip Supervisor Angie Carpenter expressed appreciation at finally receiving the $10 million DRI grant for the Central Islip area after three years of trying.  She talked about investment in the surrounding area creating a sense that it was the right time for Islip to receive funds to help revitalize as well.  She noted the numerous projects underway in the Town that are bringing revitalization, but that this particular area had been neglected for far too long.  The process is still in the beginning phase, but they have already begun to reach out to the community and working through the process.  She ended by talking about downtown Bay Shore and how the Town has been making strides in creating a destination in the community.

Farmingdale Mayor Ralph Ekstrand spoke next on his thriving downtown and the newly formed Merchant’s Association.  He also announced to the room that they are in the beginning stages of creating Long Island’s first Business Improvement District in years as an effort to sustain the success.  Farmingdale is also looking for opportunities to make the 109 corridor into an area that is 100% affordable housing ranging from 50% to 80% of median income.  Such a move would help to keep young people local, and draw them to the Village area.  Mayor Ekstrand also talked about possibly using the LIRR station for parking solutions with the idea of using shuttles from the lot during evenings and weekends being floated.  The idea of 100% affordable housing in the 109 corridor led to a brief aside on the need for such housing in the area and how it might help to lead to some young people moving out of their parents’ homes.

Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine was up next, giving updates on new housing at the Yaphank Meadows as well as the Ronkonkoma HUB, which should see its first section completed in the spring.  The completed HUB section will bring 500 new units to the community when completed.  Hundreds of units are also in the works across several projects spearheaded by Concern for Independent Living as well as D&F Development.  Those projects both promise to be 100% affordable housing for Brookhaven residents.  Supervisor Romaine also noted that housing is not the whole story but tie into interconnected issues including transportation, government, tax burden, and climate change.  He also called for modernization of transportation systems, specifically electrification of the LIRR.  Mr. Romaine also talked about the need for solid waste solutions as we begin to face increasing challenges in dealing with that issue.  He called for Long Island to work as a region to come up with equitable answers and to implement them as a whole area and not disparate municipalities.

In light of changes to recycling programs across the region, the discussion turned towards solutions.  Supervisor Carpenter spoke on how proud she was of her Town’s recycling program, which resisted switching to single stream.  She then pivoted to the idea of how tax revenue is spent, consolidation, and how Towns are going to need to make some tough decisions, especially within school districts.

Moderator Brown then moved on to multi-family housing and how there seems to be a demand for it in spite of opposition.  The general consensus is that while multi-family housing is rising in demand it isn’t slowing the market for single-family homes.  Supervisors and Mayors all gave updates on projects underway that will increase housing stock while stating that single-family homes are still very popular with residents.

Some of the issues brought up that fed into that were how intertwined parking and housing is and that a successful downtown will need to find a way to incorporate both of them.  There was also the challenge of striking the right balance where housing can be developed in downtowns without losing the charm and aesthetic that residents have grown accustomed to in their villages.  Aging in place was also discussed and how it was important to provide services for seniors as well as millennials wishing to stay on Long Island.

For the next part of the discussion, Alejandra Micardo-Suarez from Amityville High School was able to ask what the local government can do for environmental issues including water pollution and flooding and what’s being done to focus on these.  She brought up the plastic bag fee and asked when Nassau would follow suit as well as what can be done beyond that.  Initiatives discussed included Hempstead’s re-opening of a water lab as well as seeding local waters with filter-feeding shellfish to increase both water quality and industry.  The Nassau County Villages are also exploring possible bans to waste plastics, including straws, utensils, bags, etc.

Amityville student Tyrone Taylor asked the next question of the day, noting that he’s going to college and will probably need a student loan, which will make his return to the region much more difficult.  He asked what is being done to help that situation.  Solutions discussed included redefining what affordable means since a narrow definition doesn’t quite fit the housing spectrum that can change depending on a person’s expenses and living arrangements, such as a roommate.   Also, there was a discussion on getting local corporations and businesses to invest in housing and help attract new employees.

Finally, Ms. Brown brought up the recent elimination of the SALT and the effects it has on local budgets.  Supervisor Romaine answered, noting that the area will be impacted negatively by the issue and that it is essentially a penalty for having a government that invests in local infrastructure.  Supervisor Bosworth also noted that residents are having a much tougher time selling their homes due to the elimination.

Vision Long Island would like to thank all of the Elected Officials who participated on the panel as well as Dr. Nathalia Rogers of Berkeley College for bringing a number of students and young people to participate in the event. bringing a youthful perspective to the panel.

View the Morning Plenary Session here.

Zoning Codes and Design
for Walkable Places

This panel on codes, moderated by Keith Archer of Harras, Bloom and Archer, dealt with the different types of codes available and how they can be used to shape and encourage development.  The panel was asked if enough was being done and things are moving quickly enough, or does zoning need a complete overhaul.

Marwa Fawaz of VHB discussed the multiple planning projects going on in Baldwin including the Downtown Commercial Corridor Resiliency study that was recently completed and the Grand Avenue redesign as well as the zoning overlay district currently being developed.

John Chillemi of Ruskin Moscou Faltischek noted that we are making progress, but maybe not enough.  He noted that Hempstead has floating TOD zones to allow flexibility and have been used.  A similar strategy is being used in Amityville.  More does need to happen, not a complete overhaul, but these flexible overlays are beneficial in specific areas.

The panel was also asked how the new codes affected LI in a positive way.  Sal Coco from BHC Architects noted that these projects couldn’t have been done with variances, they needed new or overlay zone to make them possible.  Wyandanch and Copiague have developed new codes, and now Westbury is undergoing the process.  We have to streamline the development process in order to get things built.  He highlighted BHC’s work in the Wyandanch project, which created a walkable plaza near the train station and in Copiague where two buildings were created with a public plaza between them.  He also mentioned how the Village of Lindenhurst worked with the developer to create an overlay district that was buildable.   In Westbury, the code being developed will include areas with different heights and densities depending on the surrounding context.

Marwa noted that there has been an acceptance of density as these codes are created, but walkability is what can really make it happen.  Complete Streets can promote safety, economic development, and encourage walking.  Grand Avenue is difficult because it is a county road with significant truck traffic.  What is proposed is not a reduction in the road size, but a re-striping to give space for cyclists and pedestrians making it safer.  They are also adding street trees, rain gardens for drainage and beautification.

Chris Stoddard from Harrison Design stressed the importance of architects and engineers working together.  He proposed setting buildings back slightly from the front yard line in order to allow more sidewalk space for sidewalk cafes and activity.

Keith then asked the panel if we are doing enough to create enough housing. What’s next?  What more do we need to do?  Marwa noted that areas near the train station makes rezoning easier because there is less resistance.  The station is an asset.  Sal also noted that many of those areas are underutilized with low industrial development that is in poor condition.

Micro-apartments were mentioned as a possible solution for the need for housing, however none are currently known on Long Island.  Two bedroom units designed for roommates are another suggestion.  They can serve a purpose, maybe a temporary purpose, to jump-start a career, but there were concerns of community resistance.

Discussion about why many places are using overlay codes instead of form-based code centered around the additional flexibility of an overlay district where a form based codes has less flexibility.  However Chris noted that Euclidean zones are restrictive by saying you can’t do certain things, where form-based codes restrict you by saying you must do certain things, they are just restrictive in the opposite direction.  Form-based codes have been used in Wyandanch, Hempstead Village, and Riverside and require certain architectural standards.  With both types of zoning, most projects aren’t approved “as of right” the reviewing boards will still have the ability to help shape them.

View the Zoning Codes and
Design for Walkable Places Panel here.

Transportation Infrastructure Investments

The Transportation Infrastructure Investments panel covered a topic that is drawing increased national attention in recent months.  The panel was comprised of Jack Khzouz from NICE Bus, James Bonner from NY & Atlantic Railways, Mitch Pallyfrom the MTA Board, Donna Betty from the MTA/LIRR, and was moderated by Gerry Bogacz from NYMTC.  Mr. Bogacz opened by covering the elements of funding for transportation infrastructure and the status of local, state, and federal funding streams. 

Donna Betty covered the East Side Access and the infrastructure involved in completing the project.  The new access tunnel will allow for a greater number of Long Island commuters in and out of Manhattan, make for quicker commutes, and make state-of-the-art system upgrades.  She also noted that the train station is an economic engine for the region and that the project will help to improve that.  Ms. Betty would conclude by talking about other new infrastructure projects such as improvements to the west end concourse and Moynihan Station, centralizing the train control station, electrification of the central branch, and train yard expansions.

Mitch Pally added to Ms. Betty’s presentation by talking about a couple of other infrastructure projects, including electrification of Ronkonkoma to Yaphank to help modernize a major part of LIRR’s line.  He also spoke about the need for electrification from Huntington to Port Jefferson, which would be a substantial investment with a big return.  The project would also allow for the building of a much-needed yard along the line to be able to better store empty train cars.  Full electrification will also allow for a commuter to go to any LIRR station and take a train all the way into NYC.

The next panelist was Jack Khzouz, who discussed infrastructure priorities for NICE Bus.  He began by mentioning that NICE’s role was to help grow and support economic growth, local ridership, and the railroad.  The support for the LIRR comes in the form of relieving parking issues, which can cause an immense amount of money, at stations.  To this effect, NICE is launching shuttle services for local stations, which will be cheaper than parking.  Mr. Khzouz noted that investment in the system with upgraded technology will help NICE to “match the seat to the need” and support other forms of transportation.

The final presenter was James Bonner from the NY & Atlantic Railroad, who started by pointing out that most people are unaware that there is a dedicated freight railroad on Long Island.  The company moves products that touch a variety of industries, and has made it a priority be as environmentally friendly as possible.  This includes a new type of locomotive referred to as Tier 4, which expels air that is cleaner than what is drawn in by most counts.  Though not as visible as other transportation services, NY & Atlantic is an economic driver which serves to remove some freight traffic from local roads.  He also covered the major projects that are connected to his company, some through public funds and projects and others through private investors as well as NY & Atlantic itself.

The audience was then given the opportunity to ask questions, covering the need for current bus service to support local train stations, how micro-transit fits into the current picture, long-term expansion goals of local rail networks that are focused on Long Island and not NYC, and how to raise the profile of busses to more as part of system as opposed to the last resort.

View the Transportation Infrastructure Investments Panel here.

Food, Drink, and Downtowns

Dave Winzelberg of LIBN moderated this panel that highlights the importance of the food and drink industry to downtown vibrancy and the issues that owners face.

George Hoag from Brickhouse Brewery spoke about when he opened in Patchogue in 1994 and how there were only two restaurants on Main Street. Now there are well over twenty restaurants.  There’s more competition, but also more customers.  Residential development and being in a village with sewers has helped the growth.  John Murray from Kilwins spoke how downtown retail has also grown with the increase in restaurants with lots of specialty shops.

Evan Chen of TOA Fusion spoke how they decide which locations to move into.  They look at the local population and incomes.  Originally Farmingdale was very empty and not as desirable of a location, but now busy with lots of foot traffic, activities and events.  Joe Abruzzo Jr. of WA Meadwerks remarked that when they looked at Lindenhurst, there were vacancies, but when they spoke to the Village they learned about all of the things they are doing that will help to revitalize and they wanted to be a part of that. 

Don Chiavetta of the Campagne House has been a resident of Bethpage his entire life and felt that it could handle another restaurant.  They wanted outdoor dining to add that experience, but it’s been harder since Bethpage isn’t an incorporated village.  The zoning needs to change to make projects feasible.  Arsalan Pourmand of Flux Coffee in Farmingdale looked at different villages to decide which was most suited to the type of coffee shop that he wanted to open.

The panelists were then asked what obstacles they faced when trying to open their business.  While some had no complaints, others had difficulty getting utilities hooked up and others had difficulty navigating the permitting process in the Village.  Some felt that the Village was helpful, but you have to follow the rules and get all your permits.

They were also asked what has been the most helpful which had a greater variety of responses.  George, Joe and John felt the Villages were the most helpful to their business while others found support and partnerships with other local businesses and developing a following or community of customers around their business.  Word of mouth, local diversity and foot traffic as well as local Chambers of Commerce were also cited.

Finally, the effect of the internet on their business was asked in light of the recent Amazon HQ2 announcement.  Some are still figuring out if Uber Eats and Door Dash are worth the cost and others also sell, or are looking to sell, their product online in addition to their Main Street location.  Social media is used by most of the panelists and they use it to not only build a customer base and hear about what’s new in their industry, but also advertise live music and other special events.

View the Food, Drink, and Downtowns Panel here.

Complete Streets and Pedestrian Safety

The Complete Streets and Pedestrian Safety panel spoke about a wide range of issues relating to how our streets are designed.  The panel was moderated by Vision’s Placemaking Director Elissa Kyle and included speakers on public health, transit advocates, transportation engineers and an agency representative.  Michele Gervat of the American Heart Association spoke of how our health has been adversely impacted by how active transportation has been removed from our lives and many find it hard to get the recommended amount of physical activity that used to be just part of our daily routine.  Streets that are safer for those on bike and on foot can help more people get more activity into their daily routine.

Ron Roel with AARP discussed how Complete Streets can affect our ability to age in place.  Seniors are 50% more likely to be involved in a pedestrian crash so roads need to be made safer for seniors to have greater mobility.  What’s good for seniors is good for everybody, including families and lower income communities allowing better options for all.  Rosemary Mascali of Transit Solutions spoke of how Complete Streets and transit can work together.  Streets that are safer and more comfortable for pedestrians are correlated with two to three times higher levels of transit usage, the first mile and last mile of a trip getting between transit and the destination affects how accessible and useful the route is. 

Current projects underway on Long Island were the topics of the next three speakers.  Tom Temistokle from New York State DOT highlighted some of the projects that they are working on as a part of the Governor’s Pedestrian Safety Action Plan.  Long Island received $25 million for eligible improvements out of a total of $110 million statewide with half going to DOT and half to local governments.  Projects include Main Street in Huntington, 25A through Miller Place and Rocky Point, SR25 corridor in downtown Greenport, new signals in downtown Hicksville and numerous individual intersections across the island. 

Frank Wefering from GPI discussed the downtown Lindenhurst Walkability Study currently underway. The study involves participation through walk audits along Wellwood and Hoffman as well as online maps where residents and businesses can share thoughts and comments on individual locations around the Village and view before and after renderings of possible improvements.  Grace Healy of the Trust for Public Land spoke about the Empire State Trail Extension to connect Long Island to the Empire State Trail that will connect individual trails across upstate from the city to Buffalo and the Adirondacks.  The route will connect from the city to the east end with many segments of the trail off road and close to downtowns and train stations.

Finally, Greg Del Rio of Sam Schwartz Engineering talked about emerging trends and technologies that are changing how we think about transportation in the future.  Car, bike and scooter sharing as well as pedal assist electric bicycles are expanding the options we have for transportation and allowing us to rethink our roadway design and reclaim our public rights of way.

View the Complete Streets and Pedestrian Safety Panel here.

Solar and Renewable Energy Opportunities

The Solar and Renewable Energy Opportunities panel hosted a discussion on the future of renewable energy in our region.  Moderated by Neal Lewis of the Sustainability Institute at Molloy College, the panel of experts also included David Schierenfrom SunPower by EmPower Solar, Mike Passantino of Trinity Solar, Jessica Price from the Nature Conservancy, and Sarah Smiley from Energize NY.

The panel opened with Mr. Schieren from SunPower by EmPower, who gave a presentation on what his company has been doing to achieve a vision of renewable energy on Long Island.  He cited the recent government report on climate change, noting that it has become a crisis, and how clean energy can go a long way in addressing that.  However, there is a need to deliver it cheaper and more efficiently to make it more attractive to the general public.  Mr. Schieren also talked about the need for NYS to accelerate its efforts to implement renewable energy as well as some of the programs currently out there.  He wrapped up his presentation by talking about how solar batteries work.

Sarah Smiley talked about Energize NY, her not-for-profit development corporation, which helps local municipalities and businesses to make environmentally friendly upgrades to existing buildings.  They do this through methods that include providing capital to help with that goal.  Tools available include Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, which covers 100% of the upgrade and is repaid through an annual charge on tax bills.  The program covers a wide variety of improvements and upgrade methods, is flexible on term length and interest rates, but is not a bank loan and automatically transfers to a new owner.

Trinity Solar’s Mike Passantino spoke on his company’s work.  As a national company, they have grown throughout the Northeast to become the second largest renewable company in the country.  He talked about the challenges to growing on Long Island as compared to other parts of the region, noting a sense of skepticism from residents.  He emphasized the need for education and partnership in communities to help grow solar as a viable energy source for reducing cost and increasing efficiency. 

Jessica Price was the final speaker and covered what the Nature Conservancy has been doing to help promote renewable energy and climate resilience on Long Island.  She talked about her organization’s “Solar Roadmap” and their efforts in the area.  She tied climate change to conservancy, her organization’s main purpose, and how it’s becoming a challenge for society as a whole.  She talked about sources of carbon emissions and downstate’s contribution to that as well as what can be done to reduce that.  Ms. Price also covered plans and opportunities put forth by Long Islanders to help meet the 50% renewable energy goal by 2030 that Governor Cuomo has called for.  She noted that the Nature Conservancy is working to bring major players together to better serve the region for the future.

Neal Lewis took a moment after the presenters to speak about the Sustainability Institute’s upcoming white paper that will make a recommendation to Towns and Villages to require new commercial buildings to be built with solar.  The discussion then turned back to the panelists as questions were covered on a wide variety of topics including challenges within the industry and ways to accelerate growth, the role of generators and battery technology, net metering for residential customers, the permitting process, changes to local code to promote solar, the pace of technology, and possible new incentives.

View the Solar and Renewable Energy Opportunities Panel here.

Waste Management and
the Regional Recycling Crisis

The Waste Management panel comes at a time when our region is experiencing a number of urgent issues concerning recycling programs in our region.  Expert panelists included Charles Vigliotti from American Organic Energy, Stanley Lomangino from Maggio Environmental Service, Gary Rozmus from GEI, and moderator Adrienne Esposito from Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

Mr. Lomangino was the first presenter, starting by discussing Maggio’s role in waste management on Long Island.  Part of ongoing issues include the recent tariffs being imposed by China as well as quality issues with the type of cardboard being recycled.  Transportation has also been an issue faced as Maggio tries to process and move waste.  A number of other issues include federal regulations, logistical issues for hauling waste, and a reversion from single-stream to dual-stream by municipalities.  The reversion of single- to dual-stream due to market factors has been a particular focus in the region lately.

GEI’s Gary Rozmus was the next presenter, speaking on strategies and regulations for promoting soil reuse.  He covered new regulations in the industry, the first in almost 25 years, and all the benefits they have brought.  These new regulations allow for the reuse of materials that previously had to be shipped out and disposed of with new fill imported.  Companies are now more able to plan how best to reuse those materials thanks to the changes while also reducing solid waste that needs to be disposed of.  The changes have also allowed for the use of fill material from an expanded, but still regulated, set of sources.

Charles Vigliotti of American Organic Energy (AOE) talked about food waste, which comprises approximately 17% of solid waste across the US.  His company is working to change uneaten food from a waste to a source material.  His company has been able to market millions of tons of organic waste as compost and soil products that go back into local lawns.  A big development in their business model is the development of an anaerobic digester, currently under development and preparing to break ground in the next 6 months, which will take tons of food waste from local resources and turn it into a clean energy source.

The conversation then turned to how recent changes in China’s regulations for recycled materials have caused a backup of shipped products and lowering of demand.  This has caused issues with single-stream recycling as an industry in recent months.  The discussion also covered the need for public education and engagement as well as the creation of local markets for recycling.  Questions also included tops that ranged from specifics on AOE’s new anaerobic digester, efforts to reduce food waste at the source, fluctuations of the recycling market and how it affects the product, research of new types of sustainable plastics and efforts to change people’s behavior, and the need for more recycling options for public and commercial buildings.

View the Waste Management
and the Regional Recycling Crisis Panel here.

Parking Management
for Successful Downtowns

The Parking Management for Successful Downtowns panel featured a discussion on one of the more prevalent issues downtowns are dealing with today.  Solutions for parking are being implemented all across the island in downtowns that are on the rise and this panel featured people both in search of solutions and implementing them.  Panelists included John Yancigayfrom Qwik Ride, Gerard Giosa from Level G Associates, Dale Koch from Bohler Engineering, Brian Harty from the Village of Farmingdale, and moderator Robert Scheiner of H2M Architects + Engineers and the Huntington Chamber of Commerce.

Mr. Yancigay started the panel by talking about the success of Qwik Ride in downtowns and how the shuttle service has been making strides to bring free shuttle services to local downtowns to help alleviate the need for parking.  He covered how they are working in their newest downtown, Huntington Village, as well as next steps to give riders more options when using the service. 

Gerard Giosa spoke on how his company, Level G Associates, has been working in growing downtowns to solve parking issues as well.  Part of those solutions include regulation of the parking supply to accommodate command, noting that parking meters seem to be the go-to choice for downtowns.  He talked about elements needed to put together a parking management plan in downtowns. These include accurately measuring parking occupancy and turnover, balanced enforcement of parking regulations, communicating, being open to change, signage, a regularly updated and accurate website, regular internal reports, and the most important one, leadership.

The next speaker to present was Dale Koch from Bohler Engineering, who talked about changes in downtowns concerning parking as well as what Bohler has done to help with parking for their retail clients.  As an engineering firm, they have spent the last 30 years trying to meet the goals of both their clients and the municipalities they’re located in.  Mr. Koch noted that there are new challenges even after all these years, especially when considering the rise of mixed-use in downtowns.

The final panelist was Brian Harty, who talked about how the parking demand is being dealt with during Farmingdale’s recent boom.  He noted that just 10 years ago there was not a parking problem in the Village, mainly due to it not being a destination.  Farmingdale worked to create a welcoming environment, slowing ticketing and working to rebuild parking facilities that had fallen into disrepair.  He also talked about other solutions including making use of existing parking that is being underutilized during peak recreation hours, creating new parking lots, and reducing ticketing to focus more on safety and less on technicalities.

Mr. Scheiner cited his experience with the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce and some of the discussions on how to improve parking through ride-sharing and shuttle services.  Huntington has been examining the feasibility of a new, centralized parking structure that could help to reduce traffic and free up some of the more remote parking lots for new development opportunities.

The audience then had an opportunity to ask questions, with the discussion centered on the fact that limited parking can limit growth in downtowns and how the need to learn and innovate was a big part of moving forward.  Huntington was held up as an example of a downtown who is bringing in merchants to try and finance new parking solutions and create a buy-in and help mitigate cost to the taxpayer and local residents.

There was also talk about code enforcement to ensure that parking doesn’t illegally bleed into residential areas as well as the cost of public parking pay stations in downtowns and how well they work.  Some also asked about whether there was a thought to encourage people to park in less dense areas to encourage the use of shuttles and reduce downtown parking issues.  There was also talk about compact car parking as well as the process involved when conducting parking studies and what kind of housing is considered.

View the Parking Management
for Successful Downtowns Panel here.

Long Island Youth Job Opportunities

This panel, hosted by Vision board member Dr. Nathalia Rogers of Berkeley College was focused on determining what are young people’s expectations of the workplace and with a tight job market, what are employers doing to attract talent?  The panel included students from St. Joseph’s College as well as representatives from different fields and organizations.

Dr. Gail Lamberta, the St Joseph’s Associate Dean for Community Development, introduced herself and explained the other roles she fills at the school including experiential learning programs, bridge programs for high school students, continuing education programs as well as teaching in the recreational leisure studies program.

Jonathan DiMaria, a hospitality and tourism major at St. Joseph’s, is also participating in an internship with Dale Carnegie and hoping to get his credentials as soon as possible to begin working in the field.  Rachel Sullivan is a psychology major with a concentration in industrial organization and a second major in philosophy and religious studies who is working with her professor on practical applications of psychology research.  Briana Henn is a senior currently working on an internship in therapeutic recreation and looking to get into the field as soon as possible.

Liz Uzzo, the Human Resources Director for H2M Architects and Engineers noted that they are continuously looking to grow the group.  They have grown by 100% in the last 5 years and do work in both the private and public sector.

Luis Mendez is the former director of the Nassau County Office of Minority Affairs and one of the founding members of Empowering Young Professionals.  Their mission is to hold government accountable to ensure that job opportunities that are created, impact and benefit diverse communities.

Peter Goldsmith of LISTnet, explained that they are a chamber of commerce for the tech industry on Long Island with a goal of having Long Island be a center for tech companies.  Two years ago they opened a “WeWork” for tech companies called Digital Ballpark, and are opening another in Wyandanch near the train station.

Dr. Rogers asked the students what they are looking for in a work environment.  Jon is looking for a creative, open space, where there is collaboration with other people, not someplace where he’d be stuck in cubicle.  Rachel mentioned a company that was supportive of continuing education, flexible around classes, maybe offering tuition assistance, someplace open to new ideas and thinking.  They were also looking at 24 different character strengths and a focus on quality of life, not quantity

Liz mentioned that H2M recently opened an office in New York City because many of their younger employees wanted to be in the city and the company didn’t want to lose them. They are offering a flexibility of workplace, with the same features in different offices allowing people to work on laptops, where they are comfortable.  Peter discussed how smaller companies like to collaborate together and the Digital Ballpark allows 24 companies to collaborate, have social events to network and share ideas. 

The panel discussed the challenges of bringing more diversity into the workforce, particularly in industries that are traditionally white and male.  Liz discussed how H2M participates in career fairs and connects with universities as well as offering more flexible work schedule to allow mothers to manage a better work-life balance.  Luis suggested reaching out not just to universities but to high school students to create a “farm team system” for those who may not be suited for college but may find their niche in other careers.  He also mentioned how Community Benefit Agreements (CBAs) can be used to help residents in underserved communities get training to improve their employment opportunities.  Peter mentioned they are starting program called Grit, geared towards recognizing individual talent to help minority tech startups.

The panelists were also asked about how students can prepare themselves for employment.  Gail discussed how getting a comprehensive education with roots in liberal arts can give you skills that can be applied towards many careers.  She also suggested experiential learning, internships and other ways to work with professionals in the field.  It was also mentioned that students that have jobs while in school tend to be more successful than those who had the best grades.

Then the discussion turned to salaries and the students were asked what kind of starting salaries they were looking for.  They felt that it’s more important to look at what the job entails, not just the salary.  The working environment is more important than the salary as long as there’s enough to live on.  Some said they would take a lower salary if the employer helps pay for grad school or if there is opportunity for growth. However it was mentioned that it’s hard to live onan entry-level salary.

Finally the panelists were asked what their wishes are for the next generation or what they should know. Liz felt that they get a lot out of younger generation, they’re creative and innovative, but that they need to ask. The message was to let employers know what you want and that you won’t get it unless you speak up.

View the Long Island Youth Job Opportunities Panel here.

Long Island’s Energy Future

This year’s Energy Future panel featured a discussion among panelists assembled from a variety of energy sources with Mike Deering of LIPA moderating and speakers Tom Falcone of LIPA, Keith Rooney of National Grid, Mike Voltz of PSEG, and Clint Plummer of Deepwater Wind/Orsted.

Mike Deering opened the discussion by noting that energy production is in a paradigm shift at the moment with the rise of renewable in both the region and nation.  He would then turn the conversation over to his colleague Mr. Falcone, who spoke on LIPA’s current role as owners of the electrical grid and how they interact with other regional players, regulators, and energy providers to improve and better connect consumers.  He also spoke on how they’ve been working for years to try and improve customer satisfaction and increase the value of the delivered product.  Part of that was investing back into educations and the electric grid with new infrastructure and upgraded technology.

Keith Rooney was the next speaker, who covered National Grid’s role in providing gas to customers on Long Island.  Mr.  Rooney covered the technology and investment that the company has put into local infrastructure in order to import natural gas to the region.  He also covered ongoing projects to rebuild the system for the next 100 years and merging control centers to increase efficiency as well as investments meant to raise efficiency in the area.  This comes at a time when the demand for gas on Long Island has been rising, making it more necessary to improve infrastructure to meet the rising need.  He also noted that the company has worked to bring relief to those who need it most with a consumer advocacy center that helps low-income individuals pay their energy costs.

The next speaker was Mike Voltz from PSEG Long Island, who is the operator of the electrical grid owned by LIPA.  He talked about efforts to improve reliability and keep building out a clean and efficient grid.  He talked about how that works in conjunction with Governor Cuomo’s goal of 50% renewable energy by 2030.  Some of this is incentives to customers to reduce energy consumption and investments in the form of programs aimed at helping reduce strain on the demand.  He also noted that PSEG is working with Deepwater/Orsted to connect offshore wind power on the grid.  He also covered efforts to reform the utility company after partnering with LIPA after Superstorm Sandy.

The final panelist to present was Clint Plummer from Deepwater Wind/Orsted, who spoke on the perspective of a renewable energy developer and why they think the business makes sense as part of the local electric grid.  He started by covering the history of his company in the region, one with a dense population and a high energy demand.  This is part of what brought them to Long Island to help create a cost-effective solution for energy needs on Long Island, a region that needs such a solution.

The Q&A section of the panel featured a discussion concerning the cost of power and what’s been done to address it in recent years, the functionality of new “smart” technology, the timetable for changes in rates and reduced consumer costs, and the renewable energy goal specifically for Long Island in the context of NYS’ 50% by 2030 goal.

View the Long Island’s Energy Future Panel here.

IDA, PILOTs & Financial Impacts

The IDAs, PILOTs, and Financial Impact panel included several members of IDAs from across Long Island as well as representatives from law firms that work closely with such organizations.  Panelists included Richard Kessel of the Nassau County IDA, William Mannix of the Town of Islip IDA, Kelly Morris of the Suffolk County IDA, David Leno of Rivkin Radler, and was moderated by Sean Cronin of Cronin & Cronin Law Firm.

Mr. Cronin opened by asking the panelists what they see as the role of the IDAs on Long Island.  The Town of Islip IDA’s Bill Mannix spoke first, noting that they are creations of NYS and function to contribute to the health and growth of the region they serve.  He noted that the mandate is broad though the organizations are mostly focused on providing economic advantages and incentives to industrial companies, which can range from taxes to industrial equipment to real estate.  Islip specifically is trying to advance publicly stated policy goals of the Town board either through the town’s master plan or otherwise.

Kelly Morris spoke next, representing Suffolk County’s IDA.  She stated that IDAs are public benefit corporations with a mission to serve their communities.  On a county level, the IDA works with Town IDAs to help advance their goals, working together as partners to provide necessary benefits and work out best practices in order to advance Long Island’s economy. 

The next panelist to speak was David Leno from Rivkin Radler, a firm that works closely with applicants to local IDAs.  He reiterated that the IDA works as a partner with communities in the form of three main benefits: Payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOTs), exemption from sales tax, and exemption from mortgage recording tax.  He also noted that PILOTs are one of the more valuable tools that IDAs wield due to real estate taxes being one of the biggest hurdles to new businesses on Long Island.

Richard Kessel was the final panelist, who talked about the changes to the Nassau IDA and efforts to transform it into a more transparent and effective body.  He listed three goals of the IDAs including attracting new business to expand the tax base, fighting to keep local businesses from leaving, and creating affordable workforce housing.  Mr. Kessel emphasized the third goal of affordable housing, especially in terms of transit-oriented development, noting that creation of new housing would allow for an expanded workforce and tax base to help create a healthy local economy.

The panel would then open up the discussion to include a variety of subjects on how the IDAs effect local businesses and municipalities.  Panelists discussed how IDAs work to accommodate the need for housing, the evolution of their roles throughout the years, how they work to retain existing businesses while also working to attract new ones, the process applicants take to receive benefits, and efforts to educate the public.

View the IDA, PILOTs & Financial Impacts Panel here.

Arts, Music & Placemaking

Visual and performing arts provide an anchor to downtown business and help reinforce a sense of place. The Arts, Music & Placemaking panel, focusing on the importance of the arts in communities, was comprised of Regina Gil, Gold Coast Arts Center, Julie Lyon, Westbury Arts and David Kennedy, Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce, Moderator.

To punctuate the importance of arts in building up communities, David Kennedy looked to the rebirth of the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts. The theatre, once an abandoned movie theatre, was restored in the late nineties. Kennedy drew the correlation of a vibrant Patchogue directly to the theatre’s revitalization. The decline of Patchogue, he noted, began when the theatre closed and the rise of Patchogue began when it was restored. Prior to its restoration, Kennedy pointed out there were about three restaurants in town, now, there are over thirty. Another entity that brought a new sensibility to downtown redevelopment was the formation of the Patchogue Arts Council. It was these successes that led to a unique development in Patchogue called Artspace. Patchogue is the only Long Island community that hosts an artist’s residential community. Kennedy summed up the importance of art. It is essential in creating an identity of a town.

Julie Lyon explained that the goal of Westbury Arts, a non-profit arts council, is to attract, develop and promote art and cultural events in the community. The council’s motto is “Together We Create Westbury.” One important reason for its inception was to support downtown revitalization. It was created in the wake of the success of The Space at Westbury. In its five short years, membership has seen an increase of 70%. Lyon credits the work of dedicated volunteers and a successful digital infrastructure. Westbury Arts engages in a variety of unique events, including a summer arts and concert series, pop up galleries, summer fine arts camp for children, art contests and more. Next year promises to bring even more events. “Out Of Many, One” will be featured. It will consist of themed art events that coincide with Black History Month, Women’s History Month, LGBT and Hispanic Pride. Also, in 2019 the council hopes to realize its first brick and mortar home in the community. In 2016 the Village was awarded a ten million dollar downtown revitalization grant from Governor Cuomo. The Village has allotted much of that money for a building that will raise Westbury Arts to a new level.

Arts can be a facilitator for a restored and revitalized downtown, Regina Gil of Gold Coast Arts Center told the audience. Gold Coast received ten thousand dollars in 1989 from the State as seed money and, by 1995, the Arts Center found a home in the basement of a local church. Two short years later, it moved to its present home, a 5,000 square foot building in Great Neck. Gold Coast presents art exhibits, summer arts and vacation arts for children, and in 2011 founded the Gold Coast International Film Festival. Gil stressed that the arts are not just entertainment, it goes hand in hand with social services. Gold Coast works with Alzheimer’s patients, creating music experiences to help them connect with family members. Gold Coast also works with local schools, teaching the teachers to use art to reach those students that are hard to reach.

All three panelists agreed that art brings boundless positive influences to communities, but they also agreed that finding funding is a challenge. Grants, banks and individual donations are a few ways to find necessary dollars to keep the arts alive.

Audience questions were spirited. STEAM education (science, technology, engineering, the arts and math) was discussed, including its potential as another funding source. The need to reach out to young people, and diverse populations was stressed. As Gil noted, art is a unifying force if you allow it to be, going way beyond today’s tribalization.

View the Arts, Music & Placemaking Panel here.

Economic Outlook for Main Street 
Office, Residential & Retail

Warren Strugatch of the Long Island Press introduced the panel topic by highlighting the idea of “live, work, play” communities, which had been largely absent on LI. He also talked about how Northwell Health being selected as employer for Nassau Hub development creates a prime employment center in the area. However, there is still a need for updated office space in local downtowns to help local businesses that are important to the revitalization of downtowns as opposed to just larger ones like healthcare.

The first panelist was Vision board member Steve Kreiger of Engel Burman.  They built the Bristal on Post Avenue in 2001, but today feels that multifamily apartments would be better for that site in the downtown.  While it does have an economic multiplier effect, it doesn’t attract millennials to downtown.  He also noted that they got approvals from the Town of Hempstead on Tuesday for 180 units of non-age restricted housing cater to millennials.  They are designed as two bed, two bath units with common space and separate leases which will offer a more affordable housing.

Michael Puntillo of Jobco Realty spoke about five national issues and how they will impact our local economy.  The first is Federal fiscal policy, the GDP is positive, but starting to slow a bit. The second is trade, the recent rewrite of NAFTA looks like will be positive for the US.  Third, regulatory policy on the federal level, which has been rolled back a bit.  Banking industry loosened regulations which have increased lending.  Fourth is infrastructure, the country needs comprehensive infrastructure policy.  New York State is out ahead of the country, but one is needed for the country.  Finally, interest rates will likely raise in December, but it will be data-dependent on economic conditions.  We’ve gotten used to a low rate environment and increases will impact construction.

Guy Canzoneri of Five Point Real Estate, remarked that they are strong believers of downtown development. In order to create offices for the “live, work, play” environment, there is a need to create mixed-use buildings and a social Main Street with retail and restaurants, but in many cases we are losing offices being converted apartments. We need more downtown offices, but they are hard to build new and are not economically viable.  Municipalities need to look at zoning to allow office space without losing yield of apartments which make projects viable.  Downtowns need daytime employees to support downtowns during the week, not just evenings and weekends.

Russel Helbling of Sabre Real Estate Group highlighted how retail is important to creating a sense of place. Sabre is working on a number of large projects, and were part of an earlier team for the Nassau Hub. They are currently working on the Seritage project in Hicksville. The goal of this development is to provide a place to go on a Saturday, where you go to eat and find other things to do while you’re there.  To create a place for residents of the surrounding community as well as new residents.  Existing downtowns are great, but much of new development is creating new downtowns.

Nick Strachovsky of KOW ARMA Building Consultants, which provide risk assessment and oversight of large projects, noted how they get an overview of what others are doing. They find that communication, coordination, and flexibility are crucial to getting projects built.  Put together a team to make things work with architects, engineers, and builders that work well together.  He sees an opportunity to bring in more retail if people can live upstairs or nearby, however Long Island needs better infrastructure for things to succeed.

The panel was asked if they were optimistic or pessimistic about the market for downtowns on Long Island.  Panelists ranged from “cautiously optimistic” to “bullish” and commented on the need for infrastructure.  They also discussed how retail isn’t dying but changing, and how numerous online retailers are now opening up brick and mortar showrooms for their products.

There was also discussion of the gap between what developers are doing and what the community knows.  Many public hearings are during the daytime when people can’t attend and all they hear is density.  Panelists noted a need for a balance between urban and suburban density and that municipalities need to take the lead on redevelopment. There needs to be a better structure for developers to come in and know the rules.

Finally, the panel wrapped up with a question about how can supportive housing and social services be integrated into communities where they have walkable access to jobs. The panelists noted that density is needed to allow different levels of affordability, and they can be designed to work together successfully.

View the Economic Outlook for
Main Street Office, Residential & Retail
 Panel here.

Water & Sewer Infrastructure Funding

The Water and Sewer Infrastructure Funding panel covered one of the more important subjects facing any municipality looking to expand: how best to pay for needed sewer capacity to increase density.  The panel featured experts with experience ranging from environmental to development concerns and included Peter Scully of Suffolk County, Mario Mattera from Plumbers Local Union 200, Alan Weland from Suez, Maureen Murphy from Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Ali Chaudhry from AECOM, and moderator Roger Clayman from the Long Island Federation of Labor.  Mr. Clayman noted that this subject is of particular importance to the labor movement due to the importance of its members who often have strong ties to their local communities. 

He turned to Ali Chaudhry of AECOM about his company’s experience with infrastructure funding and how important water is to development.  He noted that there is a context in history here and how New York used to be on the cutting edge of infrastructure 100 years ago.  That’s changed due to a number of factors, including reprioritizing of funding, and has led to a reduction of investment.  Governor Cuomo has made strides to change that recently, however, by initiating one of the largest infrastructure funding programs in the country.  This is necessary thanks to a reduced federal role for infrastructure funding in the face of how expensive and necessary the infrastructure is.

Citizens’ Campaign for the Environment’s Maureen Murphy was the next speaker, talking about how her organization has worked in sewer issues with a goal of helping to ensure clean drinking water for local residents.  This makes it important considering how Long Island gets a majority of its drinking water from aquifers, making the issue of how we take care of treated and raw sewage important for a healthy environment.  Improper treatment and excessive dumping have led to a rise of toxic algae blooms, or “tides,” in local bays as well as thick, choking vegetation on beaches.  This creates a need for new technology and infrastructure to clean discharge water and lobbying efforts to increase funding for infrastructure on the federal level.

Suffolk Deputy County Executive Peter Scully talked about his 35 years of experience in government working with wastewater infrastructure.  He noted Suffolk County’s efforts to address wastewater issues in the area in face of what is considered a “historical mistake” of developing the region without a sewer network.  The current approach to address this includes innovative alternative septic systems, creating wastewater systems for neighborhood clusters, and creating new sewers. 

He also echoed the sentiment that more investment from the federal government is necessary for wastewater infrastructure as well as a need for a stable revenue stream for improvements.  He would go on to cover current funding sources as well as costs involved in upgrading the existing systems with and without grant funding.  His presentation also covered new grants made available by Suffolk to help residents upgrade their septic systems, which has proven to be successful and popular, as well as what they’ve done to cooperate with other states to implement solutions.

Alan Weland spoke next, representing the global water company Suez that was hired by Nassau County to operate and maintain the sewer system.  He talked about what his company is doing in Nassau and how they’ve been trying to improve water quality, especially in the wake of Sandy.  Investment has been focused on recovery and resiliency to help avoid further catastrophes.  He pointed to the Bay Park facility’s new floodwall and electrical distribution improvements above that wall, which is set a 500-year flood level, as examples of resiliency improvements. 

This is all part of ongoing efforts that also include innovation at the Cedar Creek Plant to help increase ability to clean effluent from treated water and better distribute volume among treatment plants, decommissioning of the Long Beach treatment plant and building a pump to move the water away from the Western Bays, and improvement of energy efficiency.

Finally, Mario Mattera from the Plumbers Local Union 200 talked about how important sewering is for the local residents and his union members specifically.  He held up the new Riverhead treatment plant, the only one of its kind in the state, and how it cleans discharge water along with the need to recapture that water to help keep rates low.  While it’s important to clean discharge, it is just as important to replenish local aquifers.  He also commended efforts in Nassau to look at that while noting that we’ll need more of the same across Long Island.

Mr. Clayman went on to take questions for the panelists, who covered subjects that included  how Huntington Station fits into current plans for the future, the possibility of public-private partnerships for infrastructure, what restraints Suez has as the operator of Nassau’s sewers, the impact of private wells on water infrastructure.

View the Water & Sewer Infrastructure Funding Panel here.

Resources for Main Street Business

Bob Fonti, Vision board Co-Chair and Co-Chair of the Suffolk County Alliance of Chambers, began the workshop with introductions of both the panelists and the audience members, followed by a session of “Did you know?” where each panelist quickly highlighted a specific resource available.

Gina Coletti, of Suffolk County Alliance of Chambers of Commerce spoke of the Suffolk County Downtown Grant program that is offered each year.  There is $400,000 in the budget for this year and a training session in January.  Josh Bienstock of NYIT mentioned that the School of Management offers complimentary teams that will come to your workplace and focus on issues facing your company.  Paul Quintero from Accion USA spoke about how they can help businesses access between $500-$250,000 of capital through his organization.  Elizabeth Custodio of People’s United Bank highlighted their website for small business with different products and services and also that they can meet with you to discuss your business idea even if you’re not quite ready for lending services yet.  John Keating from PSEG-LI discussed several programs for businesses that can help them lower utility bills.

The panelists then spoke in greater detail about what is available and what services they provide.

Paul discussed the customized ways for businesses to access capital, from the food industry to child care services.  Josh’s team recently worked with a salon to set up a social media campaign, another set up an employee handbook, membership and customer retention faculty and student teams.  Conflict management, organizational skills, team management workshops

Gina explained how the SCAoC works with individual chambers to find out what their issues are- downtown revitalization, insurance expenses etc.  They also work with Constant Contact to educate business on how to take advantage of online marketing.

John showed PSEG’s recent advertisement for the Main Street Revival Program which is designed to help businesses fill vacant storefronts on Main Streets. Up to $100,000 which helps during the first year of business when getting established.  Other programs include rebates for energy efficient lighting and programs where

Francesca Carlow of the Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce aired the NCCC’s recent “Shop Local” advertisement which highlights the benefits of shopping local including tax revenue, supporting local communities, and other benefits.

Finally, during the question and answer period, Bob and Francesca provided updates on the internet sales tax bill status and the benefits of requiring out of state online vendors to collect sales tax on purchases made in New York as well as the small business savings accounts legislation.  With new representation in Albany, there may be new opportunities to get them passed.

View the Resources for Main Street Business Panel here.

TOD & Downtown Revitalization Projects

Projects near transit and in downtowns across Long Island are helping to revitalize and strengthen commercial centers and surrounding neighborhoods. Speaking on the TOD and Downtown Revitalization Projects panel was Anthony Bartone from Terwilliger & Bartone Properties, Rob Gitto from The Gitto Group, Nick Halstead from Mill Creek Residential Trust, Alan Handelman from Conifer Reality, Ryan Porter from Renaissance Downtown, Andrew Zucaro from Zucaro Construction and Moderator Judy Lynn Simoncic from Forchelli Deegan Terrana.

Starting off the panel was Anthony Bartone who discussed the downtown revitalization of Farmingdale, including his company’s luxury apartment rentals, The Cornerstone at Farmingdale. Bartone labeled the village’s revitalization efforts a success, noting rental vacancies are at almost zero percent and retail rents are surging. The latter leading to retail reinvestments into storefronts. According to Bartone, revitalization is infectious. In 2006, TOD was pioneering, today, it’s all the rage. Bartone pointed out TOD is no longer an idea based on statistics, it’s now a reality based on facts. Terwilliger & Bartone’s newest project, The Cornerstone in Lynbrook, is in the application phase. It is walkable to Lynbrook’s downtown center and railroad. An ambitious project, it is projected to be completed in 2021.

Ryan Porter explained that Renaissance Downtown has revitalized communities through the use of public/private partnerships. With over twenty million square feet of development in New York, Renaissance believes in working from the ground up, not the top down. The company works with civics and business, building trust. This community-based revitalization approach allows all stakeholders to get on board early in the process so as to avoid challenges later on. They also engage in community benefit agreements which lead to such projects as community gardens, artwork and education. Another unique aspect to their work is their ability to create form-based codes in house. It is important to create zoning code that is flexible over time. It needs to be resilient in order to change as the market changes. Renaissance’s projects on Long Island include Hempstead, Huntington Station, Southampton and Huntington.

With a four state footprint, Conifer Reality owns over 15,000 units of housing, including senior housing in Patchogue, Coram, West Babylon, Copiague and Riverhead. Discussing the Riverhead properties, Alan Handelman described forty five units with an artists’ presence. The key to what Conifer does, according to Handelman, rests on the use of low income housing credits and community investment funds. These are described as very important tools in the company’s toolbox, along with local community participation.

Mill Creek Residential Trust is presently working on its 4th major TOD, located in Mineola, across from the Courthouse, near the railroad and Winthrop University Hospital. According to Nick Halstead, the project boasts a two building format with multiple courtyards. Modera Metro, when complete, will have four levels of residential, off street parking and be designed to function as one community.

Rob Gitto, of The Gitto Group, describes the company as a family business, with most of its properties in Long Island and the Boroughs. The company has had great success in Port Jefferson and Port Jefferson Station, creating rental apartments with retail components in walkable communities. The residential units feed off Stony Brook University, catering to students with such amenities as gyms and screening rooms.

Andrew Zucaro discussed his company’s success in TOD beginning almost eighteen years ago in Westbury. Today, they have projects in Farmingdale, Patchogue, Hempstead and Amityville. The latter project consists of residential units next to the train station. Zucaro described the distance between the lobby and the trestle as about fifty feet, making it very desirable for the New York City commute.

Questions and comments from the audience were varied. Anthony Bartone discussed the issues of taxes and traffic, calling them problems on Long Island that Smart Growth tackles. By putting people close to transit, to downtowns, the need to use cars is lessened and local economy is helped. Bartone closed by saying we are educating our children on Long Island and they are leaving because they can’t afford to purchase a house. Rentals, near transit, near vibrant downtowns, are more affordable for these young adults and this adds a different perspective, allowing them the choice to stay.

View the TOD & Downtown Revitalization Projects Panel here.

 Networking Luncheon

Lunch began with an invocation by Pastor Charles Roberts of the Salvation Army.

Long Island Railroad President, Phil Eng spoke on the importance of communication and finding solutions that work with the Smart Growth, downtown revitalization and transit-oriented development on Long Island.  He stated that LIRR is working to modernize and ensure that the railroad is reliable and safe, while being proactive instead of reactive to potential issues.  He also spoke of their success in completing the Second Track Project fifteen months ahead of schedule, and the progress being made on the Third Track which many thought could never get done.

The next portion of the lunch program saw the room hearing from new leadership in the State Senate, with both State SenatorTodd Kaminsky and State Senator-Elect Monica Martinez speaking.  Senator Martinez spoke about looking forward to January and working across the aisle in the interest of Long Islanders.  She also noted that, with many significant development projects in her district, she will be working to secure funding for needed infrastructure.

State Senator Todd Kaminsky spoke of being excited to work with the new members of the Senate, Jim Gaughran and Kevin Thomas, Monica Martinez, and exiisting Senator John Brooksand all Senators to get things done for Long Island in a bipartisan fashion.  He struck a cooperative tone by stating that while this year the people wanted something different, it wasn’t about ideology so much as getting things done.  He reminded the crowd that state elected officials do not own Albany, and none of them own the seat to which they are elected.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran spoke next, thanking Vision for our advocacy for transit-oriented development and the many elected officials and mayors across the island getting things done. She spoke of the agreement between RXR and Brooklyn Sports Entertainment for the Nassau HUB and the selection of Northwell Health as an anchor employer for the development.  The County is busy securing state funds for infrastructure, and is working with the town and other stakeholders to move forward with the agreement.  There are more details to be worked out, but this is the next step.  If we get this done, she said, it will show the world that Nassau County is open for business and ready to embrace the future.

Maribeth Pietropaoli of First Equity Title and Pink Tie was the next speaker, highlighting the work they are doing to help give back to communities through their Give N Go gas stations and other charitable endeavors that bring resources directly to local communities.

A video presentation on PSEG-Long Island’s Main Street program was shown that highlighted local investments in downtown businesses that are providing jobs and filling needed vacancies.

While State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli was scheduled to speak, but he was unable to come to the event due to a comptrollers forum upstate.  He did share a video, however, thanking Vision and speaking on how Long Island has been successful in coming together to solve our challenges to build up trust and improve transparency in local decision making.

Adrienne Esposito from the Citizens Campaign for the Environment also Co-Chair of the 100 member LI Lobby Coalition spoke on this years LI Lobby Day outlining past successes in water, sewer, transportation, housing investments and legislation as well as our upcoming agenda this legislative session.  

Vision’s Assistant Director Tawaun Weber reminded the crowd about the upcoming LI Smart Growth Awards in June and the importance of a range of programs in store for 2019.

Finally Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone spoke about the importance of planning with local communities and Suffolk County’s investment in infrastructure, particularly sewers.   He ended his remarks with a call to action on a referendum on sewer investment to be held on January 22ndseeking to expand Suffolk’s wastewater capacity in select communities.

View LIRR President Phillip Eng’s remarks here.

View NYS Senator-Elect Monica Martinez’s remarks here.

View NYS Senator Todd Kaminsky’s remarks here.

View Nassau County Executive Laura Curran’s remarks here.

Major Development Projects

The Major Development Projects panel was filled out by experts representing some of the largest projects being planned on Long Island.  The panel included John Cameron of Cameron Engineering and Associates, David Wolkoff from Heartland Town Square, Chris Kelly from Tritec Real Estate, Sean Sallie from the Nassau County Planning Department, and moderator David Winzelberg from Long Island Business News.

John Cameron spoke first, talking about the Ronkonkoma HUB and the process his company took as part of a JLL development team to create a project that would serve the community and help grow the tax base.  The community was very involved in the project, working with the municipality to come up with a wish-list for the site that was then brought to the County.  A request for proposals was then issued, which Cameron responded to with a plan that incorporated the community’s requests with a tax-positive plan that includes a new arena, the only one in a 30-mile radius, as well as several large employers and new job opportunities for the area.

Chris Kelly spoke next, continuing on the subject of the Ronkonkoma HUB, with Tritec developing another portion of the site, with Phase 1 getting underway in 2017.  This includes 489 units across 6 buildings on the easternmost side of the site that will be ready for leasing around the end of April into May.  He noted that the company is excited for the other part of the HUB to be developed as a regional project that will benefit Long Island as well as Tritec’s project.  He noted that the project should help to raise the profile of central Long Island, something that local residents are very interested in.

David Wolkoff was the next speaker, talking about Heartland and the ongoing process of getting the mega-project built.  The TOD project finally had part of the first phase approved in Islip after 15 years and will include 1,500 residential units, 400,000 square feet of retail, and 200,000 square feet of office.  While financing multi-family housing has become easier in recent years, Mr. Wolkoff noted that what’s really needed is a balance in development, one which Heartland is trying to strike by building more than just residential units in the first phase.  He also commended the Town of Islip for their work in advancing the regionally important project.

Sean Sallie then spoke, talking about the Nassau HUB and how it has transformed from a military-industrial site to one of community importance.  This importance has made the site into one ripe for a transformational project that can reap benefits for the entire County.  The 72-acre site has been drawing increased attention since 2011 with several different proposals considered in that timeframe.  He noted that Northwell’s recent commitment to creating a life sciences medical center will be critical to moving forward with development.  Committee meetings and reviews are expected in the coming weeks to discuss amendments and approvals that will move the project forward.

The discussion then turned to the different hurdles between residential and office space requirements to get off the ground, especially with the need to have “anchor” employers very early in the approval process.  There was also discussion on how RXR was selected as the developer for the Nassau HUB, the timetable involved for the Ronkonkoma HUB on both the arena site and residential area, the need for new sewer infrastructure at Heartland and how it’s affecting the timetable, the role of smaller projects and how they tie into major projects.

View the Major Development Projects Panel here.

Strategies for Affordable Housing

The Strategies for Affordable Housing panel strived to find common-sense solutions for the need for affordable housing in our region.  The robust panel included Tracey Edwards from Habitat for Humanity Suffolk, Dr. Richard Koubek from the Suffolk County Welfare to Work Commission, Ian Wilder from Long Island Housing Services, Peter Florey from D&F Development Group, Jim Speer from LI Board of Realtors and New York MLS, Michael Rooney from MDG Design + Construction, David Gallo from Georgica Green Ventures, and moderator Peter Elkowitz from the Long Island Housing Partnership.

The panel opened with a video covering the topic of Long Island’s housing needs and how they have evolved over the years from its original single-family bedroom communities to today’s needs.  It also covered how to best reach out to local residents to ensure that affordable housing is not seen as a detriment to their neighborhoods.  Especially in light of a younger population often burdened with debt who is not looking to purchase single-family homes such an expensive region.

Ms. Edwards spoke first, talking about her history as a former elected official and someone who has been a housing advocate for most of her career.  She noted that often times projects are talked about in the abstract before applications come in, allowing for misinformation.  What could help to counteract that is to educate and talk about the need for this type of housing in communities, targeting the surrounding area of the proposed project.

Dr. Koubek was the next speaker, who has been a longtime advocate of affordable housing in his various posts and professional career.  He talked about how the Welfare to Work Committee has worked to provide housing for underprivileged families.  Part of that was a report on the lack of affordable housing for working-class people.  He spoke about how affordable housing is a necessary component of helping to lift families out of poverty.

Peter Florey from D&F Development spoke next on his experience working with local communities to bring rentals to communities.  Specifically, he worked on the process it took to bring Highland Green co-op, which was developed with a thought to make it palatable to local residents.  The project presented a model where residents were co-owners, but with costs comparable to rentals.  This removed landlords from the picture and put control of the units in the hands of the residents.  The project was unique d helped to bring affordable units to a more affluent area of Long Island.  This comes at a time when communities with a high concentration of affordable housing are trying to slow such projects in their area.

The next speaker was David Gallo from Georgica Green Ventures, which has built affordable housing in a number of communities, who talked about the role that tax credits can play in that process.  He noted that tax credits are a way to shift the risk involved in building affordable housing.  Credits are awarded through a process set by the state and can then be sold to banks for more equity and less debt. That increased equity then allows the developer to charge less for rent even though the cost of construction is the same as an average project.  Guidelines do allow the developer to reap a profit, but at a reduced rate based on most of the construction costs.

Michael Rooney from MDG Design + Construction, who played a role in the revitalization of Harlem, was the next speaker and noted that they have found a niche in affordable housing.  He talked about how community engagement has become a bigger challenge with the rise of affordable housing on Long Island, with residents wary of new developments that they believe might hurt property values or burden local school systems.  A part of their job has become educating local communities and reaching out to them and local governments on what would be most desirable.  MDG has found that listening to that feedback tends to create more successful projects.

Jim Speer from LI Board of Realtors and New York Multiple Listing Service (MLS) was the next speaker.  He started by explaining how the MLS is working to create a more connected housing market in the region.  He then noted that affordable housing can have different definitions depending on the area based on a number of factors.  He also remarked that there are other factors and variables that are creating upward pressure on housing prices in the Long Island market.  He said that a number of programs are out there to help people buy new homes.

The final presenter to speak was Ian Wilder from Long Island Housing Services, who spoke first on fair housing and what his company does to help promote that in the area.  The mission of his organization is the elimination of unlawful housing discrimination and the promotion of safe and affordable housing.  They believe that people should have the freedom to live where they wish without impediments put in place based on arbitrary reasons.  Part of this is providing housing for millennials and the underprivileged in a wide variety of areas and not just small pockets on the island.  He also noted that part of this is counteracting methods and code words employed by local municipalities to restrict access to minorities.

The panel was then opened up to questions which included queries on the new MLS system and houses listed on it, ways to keep costs of ownership level once residents move into an affordable domicile, whether the definition of affordable is actually affordable for a majority of Long Islanders, housing opportunities for the future that can incorporate a birth-to-death lifestyle, legislation concerning accessory apartments on residential properties.

View the Strategies for Affordable Housing Panel here.

Community Leadership

Local leaders shared thoughts on how to improve their communities, and it all starts with common ground. Panel members discussed the keys to moving great projects forward. The panel featured Lionel Chitty, Hicksville Chamber of Commerce moderator; Karen Montalbano, Baldwin Civic Association; Linda Henninger, Kings Park Civic Association; Mindy Germain, Residents Forward; Charles Roberts, Salvation Army of Hempstead; Dennis Jones, Hempstead Chamber of Commerce; Tammie Williams, Belmont Park Community Coalition; Debra Cavanagh, Central Islip Coalition of Good Neighbors; Gail Lynch-Bailey, Middle Island Civic Association; and Charles Voelger, Mastic Beach Ambulance Company.

When you talk about Smart Growth and the desire to improve communities, Lionel Chitty and Linda Henninger stressed the importance of civic engagement and consensus building. In both Hicksville and Kings Park, it is important for residents and business to work hand in hand in order to achieve agreement as to what the community finds acceptable for every revitalization project. Reaching that consensus can be done many ways, and is not only achievable but necessary in areas that have multiple stakeholders that may have different views or goals.

Charles Voelger described the importance of the Mastic Beach Ambulance Company’s efforts in building personal relationships with local community groups in order to garner support for its new facility. By interacting with the community, even on unrelated issues, the organization is able to build trust and engage in honest communication with all residents. It was noted that even though every community organization has their own goals, finding common ground can only help ensure that most get some rather than all get none when it comes to advancing projects.

Karen Montalbano and Mindy Germain discussed various ways to jump-start revitalization and economic growth. In Baldwin, these measures included revitalizing the civic association and using social media to ultimately pave the way for its Complete Streets Project. In Port Washington, the community organization utilizes surveys to reach residents that may not be able to attend meetings, understanding that most want a seat at the table.

Dennis Jones discussed how although the community had a large amount of buy-in towards redevelopment, but felt that projects have been stalled due to changes in the political landscape, emphasizing that community support needs to drive the process. Charles Roberts noted that community givebacks to better the quality of life are important in order to move any development ahead and to keep the character of the community intact.

Although there may be unique challenges in different communities, such as environmental challenges in Middle Island and language barriers in Central Islip, each panelist agreed that if communities can find common ground, identify problems, and work together to problem solve, projects and progress can move forward. Tammie Williams addressed community opposition to the proposed project in Belmont Park. She finished by stating that community development is not a quick fix, it is building communities, from the ground up.

View the Community Leadership Panel here.

Regional Jobs & Planning Outlook

Regional Jobs and Planning Outlook focuses on how trends in jobs, housing and other issues in the broader New York Metro region affect us here on Long Island.  The panel was moderated by Vision Director, Eric Alexander and included Carolyn Grossman Meagher from NYC Department of Regional Planning, Larry Levy of the National Center for Suburban Studies, Sol Marie Alfonso-Jones of the Long Island Community Foundation and Randi Shubin Dresner of Island Harvest.

Carolyn began with a presentation of data from around the region which showed four significant trends.  First, job growth is not occurring evenly throughout the region, but is concentrated in New York City.  While the city has 40% of employment in the region, it has seen 75% of the growth since the great recession. 

Second, office jobs which typically have higher wages, are concentrated within the city while suburban counties are relying more on local service jobs. 

Third, the labor force, especially younger workers, are concentrating in NYC and inner parts of New Jersey.  While historically more people have moved from NYC to the suburbs, Long Island in particular, recently the number moving from Long Island to the city has almost matched the number moving out.  Young worker growth has declined outside of New York City except for specific location such as Stony Brook University and others.

Fourth, changes in the workforce and employment patterns are creating a geographic imbalance that will impact long-term planning and commuting patterns.  While half of regional GDP is in the city and half is outside the city, and housing regionwide is half rental and half ownership, however most rentals are in the city or along rail lines in New Jersey and other suburban counties.

Does this contradict the narrative that taxes are driving people away?

Larry Levy noted that taxes are less of an issue than in the past. Ethics and infrastructure are the primary issues now, but if the housing market collapses, it will be taxes again.

Long Island has a $200B economy, with 106,000 businesses and $60000 average individual wages.  There has been a tripling of engineering grants on LI.  There has also been a paradigm shift since the recession.  While it was about getting more jobs anywhere, now it’s about filling the jobs-high tech businesses which are having a hard time finding qualified people. We still have the highest rate of segregation despite our prosperity, with the poverty rate at a historic high. In addition, labor force participation is declining among those without a high school diploma.  More than 140,000 jobs were created, but only 70,000 housing units created.

Long Island needs a holistic approach to achieve each of the state’s strategic pillars of innovation, placemaking, workforce development, and tradable sectors.  We can’t create an innovation ecosystem without more top-flight workers.  They won’t come when being sought elsewhere without affordable rentals in “cool downtowns,” but building up above ground can’t be done without fixing what’s below ground.

How does this impact communities?

Sol Marie described how her organization views things through a lens of equity and that averages don’t tell Long Island’s story.  Averages say that Long Island is doing well, with low unemployment, raising wages, and good schools.  However, we’re only as strong as our most vulnerable people. Equity must be the lens that drives future growth- it is not a standalone issue and this will require commitment from every sector.

The Long Island Community Foundation recently completed a study with Citi and Urban League.  Long Island’s economy could have been $24 billion stronger if racial income gaps were eliminated.  In 2030, the majority of young workers will be people of color.  A new growth model is needed and it must be driven by equity, there must be access to opportunities by everyone.  There needs to be access to good jobs for the less educated as well as affordable transportation and housing.

Currently, black workers have less access to high-quality jobs regardless of education levels.  Communities of color are more likely to be carless and dependent on transit.  Unemployment levels are higher in black communities and wages have gone down.  Lower income communities are being left out of opportunities.

What are real people experiencing?

Randi Dresner noted that if numbers look so good, why are we increasing the amount of food we give out by 1,000,000 lbs per year and it’s still not enough?  On Long Island, approximately 300,000 people or  one{extra space} in ten are getting food from Island Harvest.  The Economic Policy Institute has determined that a family of four needs to earn $140,000 to live on Long Island.  They broke down monthly costs and found them to be $11,700 per month.  The current federal poverty line is $25000.  Island Harvest has had to provide more services including a giving garden program to donate produce.  This year, they are leasing space in Brentwood to farm and grow and distribute 600,000 lbs. of produce, while also going into schools to teach children about healthy eating and food insecurity. She also noted that there is not as much focus on going into trades after high school, just college.  There are not enough drivers to distribute food.

Discussion afterwards focused  on how to take this information and make a clearer picture.  While we are prospering, we are also becoming more unequal-which is part of a global trend. We are facing a system that’s affecting our local communities.  The solutions are in our communities and involve making connections between efforts in housing, jobs, etc.  Issues such as school districts, public transportation, workforce development, tax equity, child care, food deserts and zoning were all discussed as they relate to equity on Long Island.

View the Regional Jobs & Planning Outlook Panel here.

Thank you to all of the attendees of the 
2018 Smart Growth Summit!

Thanks to the over 75 elected officials in attendance who took information back to their districts to solve problems. We also held a new elected officials orientation led by Suffolk Legislator Rob Calarco that was well attended and focused on community education and trust building. 

New York State Senator Todd Kaminsky
NYS Senator-Elects Monica Martinez, Kevin Thomas and James Gaughran
NYS Assemblyman Andrew Raia
NYS Assembly-Elects Judy Griffin, Taylor Raynor, Mike LiPetri
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran
Nassau County Presiding Officer Rich Nicolello
Nassau County, Legislators Kevan Abrahams, Arnold Drucker, Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, Ellen Birnbaum, Laura Schaefer, Carrié Solages, Steve Rhoads, Josh Lafazan & Debra Mulé.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone
Suffolk County Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory 
Suffolk County Legislators Rob Calarco, Susan A. Berland, Steve Flotteron, and Rudy Sunderman.
Town of Babylon Deputy Supervisor Tony Martinez 
Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine
Town of Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen
Town of Hempstead Councilpersons Erin King-Sweeney and Edward Ambrosino.
Town of Islip Supervisor Angie Carpenter
Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Boswirth
Town of North Hempstead Councilwoman Dina De Giorgio.
Town of Riverhead Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith
Town of Riverhead Councilpersons Jodi Bennett-Giglio and Catherine Kent.
Town of Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim.
And nearly 40 Village officials.

Check out these quotes from some of our speakers:

“We are extremely busy in Smithtown.  To sum it up, right now we have 1.1 million squre feet of commercial space either underway, in the application process, or in the planning department. 800,000 square feet of that is actually underway as we speak.  So we’re pretty excited in the Town of Smithtown.  It’s a new generation, it’s a new energy, and we’re moving along well. – Hon. Ed Wehrheim, Town of Smithtown
“The tale of the tape really says it all in downtown Hicksville.  Our revitalization project has garnered us a $10 million grant from Governor Cuomo, and great thanks to him, and we’re moving quickly with that process.  We’re opening the door to more development and redevelopment, and the transit oriented downtown revitalization that we’ve needed for many, many years.” – Hon. Joe Saladino, Town of Oyster Bay
“I think there’s a balance to being able to develop, especially the mixed-use with retail and housing, and being able to maintain the character of the community.  I think when you’re able to strike that balance it’s a positive win for everybody because you’re able to accommodate what you need to have in place to be able to support not only young people but people as they are aging up so they can stay on Long Island and afford it also.  So it’s a mix and a balance and I think keeping the conversation going with the community has helped a lot.” – Hon. Laura Jens-Smith, Town of Riverhead
“To have millennial housing is absolutely vital and something we must work together with the development community to make sure that there’s a way that developers are interested in building this type of housing and we can find the type of housing that our young people can afford.  Or else we’re going to have a brain drain and we’re not going to have talent here on Long Island.  Not only will we lose young people but we will also probably lose their parents with them” – Hon. Laura Gillen, Town of Hemstead
“The challenges that all of us face with parking is that people don’t want garages and yet we need more parking.  But the idea of just asphalting over more and more property is also something that is not in the best interest of the town.  I think that we need to start to really try to change our commuting habits.  In the future we really need to look at car-ride sharing, shuttle busses, and things of that nature to encourage people to get to the station and leave their cars at home.” – Hon. Judi Bosworth, Town of North Hempstead
“We received the [Downtown Revitalization Grant] and are in the process of working with the community.  We had our first public visioning sessions and it was incredibly successful.  Close to 300 people came out and worked in groups to share their ideas.  We have a model because of what we’ve done in downtown Bay Shore, which has truly been a success.” – Hon. Angie Carpenter, Town of Islip
“Our downtown is thriving so much that the Board of Trustees has formed a merchant’s association, and what a thriving downtown needs is a Business Improvement District.  We have filed this month with the State Comptroller’s office, so Farmingdale is in the process of forming a BID for the downtown. As for our 109 corridor, the board is looking at opportunities for 100% affordable housing only.  So we are really looking at keeping our millennials in Long Island’s downtowns.” – Hon. Ralph Ekstrand, Village of Farmingdale
“We have a lot of development happening in Brookhaven, but units don’t tell the story.  What tells the story is:  Do we have transportation?  How much government do we have?  How much do we pay in taxes?  What’s our environment like in terms of threat from climate change?  All of those issues are interconnected.  To look at one and not look at the whole picture, you lose the thrust of where it’s going.” –Hon. Ed Romaine, Town of Brookhaven
“Huntington Station revitalization is where we see a lot of progress going right now, especially north of the train station.  Recently the designation of the area as an opportunity zone for private investment in job growth.  We just completed the Northridge building, which is mixed use, and we are now expanding over to our gateway project, which will have over 60 apartments with retail space below.” – Hon. Chad Lupinacci, Town of Huntington
“I’m proud to be part of what’s happening on Long Island.  The opportunity to lead LIRR is something that I don’t know how blessed I can be because I know, with everything that everyone wants to do here in terms of smart growth, downtown revitalization, and transit oriented development, that the railroad is going to be crucial to the success of all those things.” – Hon. Phillip Eng, LIRR President
“The one thing about who was just elected this past election is that we’re going to work across the aisle.  We’re going to make sure that we represent Long Island, that we represent Suffolk County.  I can promise you that I will work with you and speak with all stakeholders to bring everybody to the table.” – Hon. Monica Martinez, NYS Senate-Elect
“We understand the expectations that comes with being the Senate Majority.  I have a simple expectation when working with you:  You tell us what you need and let us try and run through a wall and get it done.  We need our young people to stay here, we need it to be affordable for our seniors to stay here, and we want this to be a world-class place where people want to work and people want to live, that has the vitality that the promise of Long Island always carries.” – Hon. Todd Kaminsky, NYS Senate
“Perhaps more important than anything else, if we get [the Nassau HUB] done, think of what it will do for our self-respect as a county.  That we, this team, Town and county working together across the aisle, we can finally get this difficult thing done.  It will show the world that Nassau County is open for business and that we are ready to embrace the future.” – Hon. Laura Curran, Nassau County Executive

Special thanks to the 1st Equity Title and Pink Tie for their Lead sponsorship once again.

Thanks also to our Gold sponsors AT&TNational GridPSEG Long IslandEngel Burman & Lalezarian.

Thanks to our Silver sponsors Greenman PedersenVHBCronin & CroninConcern for Independent LivingH2M Architects & EngineersSouthern Land Company, Heartland Town SquareThird Street AssociatesPeople’s United BankMill Creek Residential, RXRCameron EngineeringSouthwest AirlinesTerwilliger & Bartone, AECOM &McBride Consulting.

An overwhelming thanks to all of our Bronze sponsors for making the LI Smart Growth Summit a premier event for Long Islanders to come together: AARP Long Island, Albanese & Albanese, Alumni Association of SUNY Old Westbury, The Beechwood organization, BHC Architects, BJH Advisors, Bohler Engineering, Caithness Long Island, Certilman Balin, D&F Development, Deepwater Wind/Orsted, Five Point Real Estate, Foos Fire, Forchelli Deggan Terrana, GEI Consultants, Good Harvest Financial Group, GRCH Architecture, Greenview Properties, Harras Bloom & Archer, Harrison Design, Hofstra University, Jobco, K.O.W. Arma Development Consultants, Local 25 IBEW, Laborers Local 66, Long Island Board of Realtors, LIPA, Maggio Environmental, MDG Development, Nassau County IDA, Nassau County Village Officials Association, NEFCU, NY Youth Summit, NICE Bus, Northeast Carpenters, NYIT, Plumbers Local 200, Posillico, Renaissance Downtowns, Rivkin Radler, Ruskin Moscou Faltischeck, Sahn Ward Coschignano, St. Joesph’s College, Sam Schwartz, The South Asian Times, Suffolk County IDA, SunPower by EmPower Solar, Trinity Solar, Zucaro Construction, and Zyscovich Architects

Check out some of the sights from this year’s Summit:

Here is select press coverage 
for the 17th Annual Summit!

Read pre-coverage for the event at
Long Island Business News here.

Read our Op-Ed in Long Island Business News
about the themes of the Summit here.

Read pre-coverage of the event at InnovateLI here.

Check back for coverage from News 12, the Long Island Herald,
Times Beacon Network, Noticia, and more!

We are now accepting nominations for 
the 2019 Long Island Smart Growth Awards!

You can view a printable version of the flyer here.

Save the Date for
the 2019 Long Island Smart Growth Summit!

Friday, December 6th, 2019

Vision Long Island
24 Woodbine Ave., Suite Two 
Northport, NY 11768 
Phone: 631-261-0242. Fax: 631-754-4452.

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