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2011 Year in Review

2011 has been one of the most productive years yet for Vision. For our final installment of SmartTalk for the year, we thought we’d highlight the biggest stories that demonstrate the great progress and challenges that Long Island has experienced this year.

We wish you a happy New Year and look forward to an even better 2012!

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Newly inaugurated Governor Andrew Cuomo delivers State of the State in Albany: The Empire State Strikes Back!


Vision Long Island headed up to Albany to attend the annual State of the State address by newly inaugurated NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo. The speech was one of many firsts: the first time the event was held outside of the Assembly chambers and in the 2000-seat convention center, the first time legislative leaders gave speeches during the event, the first time technology was used during the speech (Cuomo used a powerpoint) and the first time members of the public were directly invited to attend (tickets were disseminated by lottery).

Governor Cuomo said “this is a time of crisis for our State; a time when we must transform our government...and seize the opportunity that is before us... In government as in life, you can never solve a problem if you refuse to acknowledge it... We need to see a “fundamental economic realignment for the state of New York.”" We must focus on bolstering New York’s private sector, said Cuomo. He proposed creating 10 regional economic councils across the State, which would serve as public-private partnerships centered on job creation in that region from a bottom-up, localized perspective. The councils would compete for State grants.

According to the Governor's press release, he "will create the ‘NY Cleaner, Greener Communities Program’ to provide competitive grants that encourage communities to develop regional sustainable growth strategies in housing, transportation, emissions control and energy efficiency. The program will emphasize revitalizing urban areas through Smart Growth, creating green jobs, building green infrastructure including roof and rain gardens and strengthening environmental justice and protection.”

The text of the speech is available online hereVideo of the speech is available online here.

Read the full article here...

Courtesy Hotel demolition makes way for TOD


After a ten year battle, the community of West Hempstead has finally succeeded in closing the Courtesy Hotel. Long considered an eyesore and a hot spot for criminal activity, many local leaders were glad to finally see the hotel go and eagerly await the proposed residential complex that will replace it. "We are delighted that community and town efforts have resulted in the closing of this eyesore," said Rabbi Art Vernon of the Jewish Community Center of West Hempstead.

With the closure comes a sense of excitement about the new complex proposed for the location. In late 2008, West Hempstead created a special Transit Oriented Development district specifically for the area around the hotel. This, coupled with an LIRR-owned one acre site directly adjacent that shall remain undeveloped, has made it possible for Mill Creek Residential Trust (formerly Trammell Crow Residential) to move forward on the proposal for a four-story residential building with 150 rental units and two levels of underground parking. The project, The Alexan @ West Hempstead, received a 2009 Smart Growth Award for community revitalization.

Read more in Newsday here.

Read the full article here...

Hempstead Village picks developer for downtown redevelopment

hempstead hempsteadrenaissance

In 2007, the Village of Hempstead picked Urban America, a Manhattan-based developer, to help redevelop its downtown before political infighting forced Village trustees to table the original $2 billion proposal. The Village has now come full circle by re-designating Urban America, who is now partnered with Long Island developer Renaissance Downtowns, to transform part of the downtown into what was originally planned as 2,500 condos, 600,000 sq feet of commercial space and a performing arts center.

Ed Scott, Urban America’s Vice President, predicts that the partnership with Renaissance coupled with a different political climate will help to get the project off the ground this time around. Though Mayor Wayne Hall had supported the plan in the original attempt, a lack of support among the Village trustees had meant the end for the project.

Renaissance Downtowns' Brandon Palanker noted that his company stresses a “triple bottom line” of social, environmental and economic benefits when it orchestrates a downtown rebirth, and that the community would be involved in shaping the proposal, as was the case the first time around. Amenities such as urban agriculture, rooftop gardens, public piazzas for farmers’ markets and events will be highlights of the renewal effort. “We think Hempstead is already a vibrant community,” he said. “This provides the economic impetus to really pull things together here.”

To read more, check out Long Island Business News’ full article here.

Read the full article here...

North Hempstead passes Complete Streets law

complete streetscomplete streets

This week, the Town of North Hempstead became the fourth Long Island municipality to adopt a local Complete Streets policy. As one Complete Streets website puts it, “The streets... ought to be for everyone, whether young or old, motorist or bicyclist, walker or wheelchair user, bus rider or shopkeeper. But too many of our streets are designed only for speeding cars, or worse, creeping traffic jams.”

“North Hempstead is proud to pass a resolution adopting the ‘Complete Street’ proposal,” said Supervisor Jon Kaiman. “Instituting this policy will ensure that all roadways in North Hempstead will be designed will all users in mind – including pedestrians, cyclists, and other non-motorized modes of transportation.”

Read the full article here...


Harrison Hale Community Action Center and Community Cafe hold grand opening celebration


The Gordon Heights community, along with elected officials from the Town of Brookhaven and beyond, gathered in Medford to celebrate the grand opening of the Harrison Hale Community Action Center and Community Cafe. Over the last decade, the Harrison Hale Community Action Center implemented programs and activities to aid the working, poor, homeless, seniors, youth and low- to moderate-income individuals and families.

The Action Center's "human incubator concept" hopes to use the cafe to serve as "a safe haven for the children of the community. Upon entering the facility, children will recieve a hot, nutritious meal and recieve information regarding the importance of living healthy lives." The Resource Center, it continues, will provide counselors to help children with homework, tutoring and provide artistic and recreational activities.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, Brookhaven Town Supervisor Mark Lesko, Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Connie Kepert and Suffolk Legislator Kate Browning were all also keenly involved in pushing the project forward. The press release states, "the collaboration of this multi-level of government involvement demonstrates that by working together, we can help implement and deliver the much-needed services to our community."

Bishop Harrison Hale, President and founder of the Community Center, said, "the community is where our strength lies and where our support should be given." The Cafe is part of an ongoing visioning process in Gordon Heights. For more information, contact Bishop Hale at 631-698-8484.

Read the full article here...

Business, community, labor and environmental leaders join forces for 3rd annual Long Island Lobby Day


Tuesday, February 8th marked the third annual Long Island Lobby Day. Over 50 participants, representing nearly 45 Long Island business leaders, environmentalists, civic associations, human services, senior advocates, Smart Growth planners, labor groups and transportation advocates converged in Albany to meet with elected officials in hopes of advancing a substantive platform to help Long Island. The platform included transportation, sewer infrastructure, energy and environment, small business, jobs and economic development and human services.

The diverse coalition has grown once again and now includes: AARP, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Empire State Future, Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce, Long Island Business Council, Long Island Federation of Labor, Long Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Long Island Software and Technology Network, Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce, Tri-State Transportation Campaign and Vision Long Island. Additional participating organizations include: Concern for Independent Living, Concerned Citizens of the Plainview-Old Bethpage Community, Coram Civic Association, Dowling College, Elmont Chamber of Commerce, Friends of Huntington Station, Glen Cove Business Improvement District, Gordon Heights Civic Association, Gordon Heights Chamber of Commerce, Hicksville Chamber of Commerce, Lake Ronkonkoma Civic Organization, Long Island Housing Partnership, Long Island Minority AIDS Coalition, Mastic Beach Property Owners Association, Mastics-Moriches-Shirley Community Library, Middle Island Civic Association, Neighborhood Network, New York League of Conservation Voters, Plainview/Old Bethpage Chamber of Commerce, Renaissance Downtowns, Roel Resources, Save the Forge River, Selden Civic Association, South Yaphank Civic Association, them TV, US Green Building Council – Long Island Chapter, Verizon, Wading River Civic Association and Youth of Ethical Societies, Long Island Chapter.

Meetings were held with all nine Long Island Senators- Kenneth LaValle, John Flanagan, Lee Zeldin, Owen Johnson, Carl Marcellino, Kemp Hannon, Jack Martins, Charles Fuschillo, and Majority Leader Dean Skelos; Assemblymembers Philip Boyle, Steve Englebright, Al Graf, Andrew Raia and Harvey Weisenberg; Senate Minority Leader John Sampson and Senator Daniel Squadron; and Tony Giardina, Assistant Secretary for Economic Development for the Governor. Members of our Coalition also met separately with Assemblymembers Chuck Lavine, Dan Losquadro and Dean Murray.

You can download the full agenda here.

See press coverage in Newsday and Long Island Business News.

Read the full write-up from the day here...

Long Island tops list for most dangerous roads for pedestrians


According to a recently released study by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, Long Island once again has the dubious distinction of being home to several the tri-state region’s most dangerous roads for pedestrians. In fact, for three years running, Nassau County’s Hempstead Turnpike has topped the list with more pedestrians killed than any other roadway in the region. Ryan Lynch, senior planner and Long Island coordinator for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, suggested a pedestrian island could help curb fatalities by providing a refuge for pedestrians in the middle of the road. "If you get caught between the light, you can feel like you won't get sideswiped by a car," he said.

Suffolk’s Sunrise Highway also held the prominent position of number four on the list. Much like Hempstead Turnpike, it is a multi-lane highway bordered by shopping centers and restaurants on either side. Analysts blame factors such as these, as well as poor road design, for pedestrian deaths.

Although a Complete Streets bill that would have called for developers and traffic engineers to consider the needs of all users when designing streets passed the State Senate, it has since stalled in the Assembly. Tri-State Transportation Campaign, however, noted that this work could be completed with minimal funds and be a major benefit for New Yorkers and Long Islanders of all backgrounds. “Even with limited resources, the region can step up efforts to design more balanced, walkable streets,” said Kate Slevin, Executive Director of the Campaign. “Pedestrian improvements offer a tremendous bang for the buck.”

For more information, check out the full study here. See Vision's Executive Director Eric Alexander's comments on News12 here and the story in Newsday here.

Read the full story here...


2011 Long Island Youth Summit Brings 200 Top High School Students to Work with Experts on Long Island Issues

youth summit

On March 11, 2011 two hundred high school students from across Long Island assembled for the 2011 Long Island Youth Summit (LIYS) that took place at Dowling College in Oakdale, NY. The purpose of the Summit was to work with the brightest and most active high school students in order to make them aware of the socio-economic, environmental and socio-medical issues that are affecting Long Island and to recommend solutions to these issues.

In order to participate in the Summit, students were asked either to write a paper/essay or to create a short video or an art portfolio that would discuss possible solutions to a suburban issue of their choice. The issues that high school students were asked to research included Environment on Long Island: Preservation of Open Space, Protection of Water and Renewable Energy; Housing and Suburban Culture; Transportation; Long Island Economy and Business Environment; Long Island Governance Structure and Civic Activism; Race, Class, and Education on Long Island and Socio-Medical Topics of Bullying in Schools and Social Networking. The 2011 LIYS Selection Committee received submissions from more than 500 students from over 30 high Long Island high schools. Based on the quality of their submitted work, two hundred students were selected as the finalists who, together with their high school teachers, participated in the Summit.

During the day of the Summit finalists and their teachers participated in topic workshops with thirty experts in the areas of business and economics, governance, housing and transportation, environment, socio-medical issues, race and education, and non-profit and civic activism on proposing the solutions to the issues affecting Long Island. After completing their topic workshops, the participants convened for a joint final session and the awards ceremony where they presented their workshop recommendations.

Read full coverage here...

Long Island Smart Growth Working Group hears from Mangano, towns, developers


On Wednesday, March 9th, over 80 people attended a meeting of the Long Island Smart Growth Working Group at the Sustainability Institute at Molloy College. The featured speaker was Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, who talked about issues ranging from infrastructure investments to redevelopment at the Coliseum site, LI Bus and revitalization throughout the county. There were also several updates from towns and developers, as well as program updates.

Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano began: “Even though we are facing hard economic times, we need to build infrastructure and put trade unions back to work.” He spoke about the details of last year’s bi-partisan capital spending plan to fix roads, improve parks, increase green energy and more and added that the next budget will include $200 million for revitalization. He said that Nassau County must improve its infrastructure, beginning with a stronger partnership with New York State. He pledged his support for creating a regional infrastructure bank, funded through pension contributions.

Adrienne Esposito of Citizens Campaign for the Environment and Ryan Lynch of Tri-State Transportation Campaign spoke about LI Lobby Day. Mark Grossman of the NYS Department of Labor gave a brief preview on the philosophy behind proposed regional Economic Development Councils that the Governor is creating. Peter Fleischer, of Empire State Future continued with an update on the Smart Growth Public Infrastructure Priority Act. Dowling College’s Dr. Nathalia Rogers spoke about the upcoming Long Island Youth Summit.

Vision Long Island gave updates on a new infrastructure committee, whose charge is to work with the new bill to move forward with priority recommendations.

Maria Rigopoulos of Mill Creek Residential Trust spoke about the West Hempstead TOD project, at the site of the former Courtesy Hotel. They have closed on it and are looking forward to building the 150-unit TOD project soon. Jonathan Keyes from the Town of Babylon said that a request for qualifications has been sent out for a primary site near the train station in Wyandanch, a community that is moving forward rapidly with revitalization plans. Other TODs that look to be moving forward are Patchogue’s New Village, the Ronkonkoma Hub and AvalonBay’s return to Huntington Station.

Riverhead Town Councilman James Wooten talked about all the great things going on in the Town, including a Hyatt Regency hotel slated for completion this summer, the Suffolk Theater revival, the 1 East Main Street project, Summer Wind Square and a plan that could bring the largest wind turbine on Long Island to a sewer district.

In Islip, Town Councilmembers Steve Flotteron and Trish Bergin Weichbrodt said their main focus has been the Heartland Town Square megaproject. Flotteron also covered Bay Shore, where there have been several walkability, waterfront, and affordable housing improvements. The Town recently adopted a Complete Streets law. Bergin Weichbrodt talked about a new focus on cesspool expansion and repairs through new technologies.

An MTA hearing will be held on March 23rd at Hofstra University from 3-9pm. You can also join the transit coalition working to save LI Bus by emailing Vision or Tri-State.

Read the full article here...

East End to Get Transit Boost

east endeast end

Though Nassau's bus system may be facing a reduction, riders on the East End got some good news this week. On Tuesday, the Suffolk County Legislature voted to add Sunday service to two bus lines, the S92 and the 10C. The service, proposed by County Legislators Ed Romaine and Jay Schneiderman, will be funded by a 50-cent fare increase on those lines (from $1.50 to $2.00). The two routes are some of the most popular on the system, running through all major East End communities including Riverhead, Montauk, Orient Point and everything in between.

The measure passed the Legislature nearly unanimously by a 16-1 vote, however County Executive Steve Levy was not convinced, and called for a survey of riders first. Informal polling by groups like Jobs with Justice have indicated rider support for the program, and support has been strong from the local business community and elected officials. 

At a press conference organized by Legislators Romaine and Schneiderman last Friday, Legislator Schniederman said “Sunday, particularly on the East End, is a busy day. The restaurants, the shops, the hotels, a lot of the businesses depend on a work force that is increasingly dependent on public transportation. Except, that work force can’t get there.” He also noted that fares have not been raised on these lines in 19 years. Legislator Romaine decried the MTA’s recent cuts to LIRR weekend service from Ronkonkoma to Greenport.

Others in attendance included Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter, Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell, and Southampton Town transportation director Tom Neely.

Though this will only serve as a pilot program, there is already a great deal of buzz around the service increase. The changes are slated to go into effect on July 3rd.

Read more on the upcoming changes at the North Shore Sun or Riverhead Patch.

Read the full article here...


Town of Hempstead to rezone Nassau Hub

hub hub

Last July, the Town of Hempstead declined to make the $3.8 billion mixed-use Lighthouse project a reality, denying it because the project was deemed too massive. Now the area is being revisited as the Town looks to make sweeping zoning changes to create a clear picture of what can be done to help the aging Nassau Coliseum and its 77-acre parking lot. Some note that this is simply the first step of an uphill climb for the development.

The new code will not allow for the density proposed in the original Lighthouse plan, but will instead fall more in line with what Hempstead proposed last July in response. Hotels will be limited to nine stories, with everything else limited to four, except for residential buildings, which will be held at three stories and have a total limit of 500 housing units- well below the 2,300 originally planned by the Lighthouse. This new plan will allow for 5.4 million sq, feet of development, or less than half of the original proposal.

Vision Long Island’s Executive Director Eric Alexander weighed in, noting that the new zoning allows for retail, offices, hotel, parks, multifamily residential and walkable streets that are “consistent with a new town center the area sorely needs.” Mr. Alexander also indicated that he’s asked the town to increase the number of allowed housing units under the new zoning rules.

For more on this important story, check out Long Island Business News’ original article.

Read the full story here...

Gordon Heights Land Use Plan approved

gordon heights

The Gordon Heights Land Use Plan was approved by the Brookhaven Town Board 6-1 on Tuesday evening. This is a great victory for the community, as over 500 residents took part in creating the plan that sprouted from a visioning process that began with Vision Long Island's help nearly 5 years ago.

Many projects have been approved and built in Gordon Heights since the visioning process began in 2006. New sidewalks have been added to several streets. Bathrooms were constructed in Children’s Park and Granny Road Park, allowing for a better quality of life as well as new camps and programs to be located there. The Harrison Hale Community Educational and Resource Center, a state-of-the-art community gathering place, opened in 2009 and now provides great programming and opportunities for residents. A new community recreation center, more sidwalks and many other improvements are also on the way.

The plan’s FGEIS was completed in February 2011, which you can view on the Town’s website here.

Read the full story here...

MTA votes to privatize LI Bus


On Wednesday morning, the MTA Board voted unanimously to end their contact with Nassau County to run the Long Island Bus system. The vote means that Nassau County will turn the bus system over to a private company on January 1, 2012. An operator has not yet been selected.

MTA chief Jay Walder was optimistic. "I don't agree that a privatized system has to be doomed to failure," he said. Many transit advocates and riders are not quite as enthusiastic. Nassau County has yet to release any details on what a private system would look like, so it may be premature to comment.

Some of LI’s State Senators recently stepped forward with additional funding to save the bus system from any further cuts in 2011. Without this funding, the system would have seen over half its lines cut this July. It is still unclear whether a private system would include any service reductions or fare increases.

Read more in Newsday

Read the full story here...

New Village clears final hurdle in Patchogue


Last week, the Patchogue Village Zoning Board of Appeals approved 6 to 0 with one abstention the final parking variance needed to build Tritec’s New Village project in the heart of downtown Patchogue.

The project, worth $100 million, would replace the former Swezey’s department store with 291 apartments, 46,000 square feet of retail space and 18,000 square feet of office space. The Village Board approved the project in March, but a final vote by the ZBA was required to approve a parking spot size of 9 feet by 18 feet, versus the standard 9 feet by 20 feet size in the Village’s code.

Read more in the Patchogue Patch.

Read the full story here...


Coliseum redevelopment takes step forward


On May 11th, Nassau Coliseum was filled with hundreds of business, community and labor leaders, elected officials and concerned citizens and Islanders fans to hear an announcement from Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray and Islanders owner Charles Wang on plans for the future of the Coliseum.

Mangano, Murray and Wang announced a major “Economic Development and Job Creation Plan,” which would be paid for with a $400 million bond and entails building a world-class sports-entertainment destination center including a new sports arena and a minor league ballpark. The County Executive also announced that he, along with NYS Senators Dean Skelos and Jack Martins, will pursue the construction of an Indian gaming casino at Belmont Park.

“Redeveloping the Hub is critical to creating jobs in our County and stimulating the local economy,” said Mangano. “With the support of business and community leaders, I am advancing a County-wide public referendum. This referendum will allow residents to decide whether we should build a sports-entertainment destination at the site of the Coliseum that retains our Islanders, construct a minor league ballpark and create thousands of jobs.”

Citizens will have the opportunity to decide the fate of this plan during a County-wide public referendum on August 1st. If residents approve the measure, construction is estimated to begin in 2012, so that the new sports arena can open no later than 2015.

Mangano noted that there would be a net zero cost to taxpayers, as the Islanders would compensate residents by paying the County a share of each dollar generated at the new sports arena. Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin said the proposed financing would amount to a maximum of 90 cents per week for the average household in Nassau, or $46.80 per year, before the Islanders begin to subsidize that amount with revenue generated from the new arena.

The Nassau Interim Finance Authority said it was deeply concerned about the proposal and the fiscal implications that would arise as a result. Meanwhile, Supervisor Murray is confident about plans to rezone the area surrounding the Coliseum, which would make way for the scaled-down mixed-use redevelopment including housing, retail, office and more.

Read more in Newsday and Long Island Business News.

Read the full article here...

Hicksville residents join to shape revitalization plan


On Saturday, May 21st, over 100 local residents joined together at the Hicksville Public Library to hear an update on the Hicksville Downtown Revitalization plan. The Hicksville Community Council and Chamber of Commerce were on hand to present the landmark revitalization plan after several years of working closely with local residents and civic groups.

“Now’s a great opportunity,” said Lionel Chitty, Hicksville Chamber of Commerce, “If something isn’t done, this area is not going to survive.”

The crowd supported the plan aimed at giving the downtown a much needed facelift and mapping out areas where open spaces, mixed-use buildings and new office and retail space could be placed. The meeting also included presentations by Keith Samaroo of PS&S, Debra Howes from AECOM, David Kim from Anderson Kim Architecture and Urban Design, Marc Wouters from Marc Wouters Architecture and Urban Design and Jay Valgora from Studio V Architecture, who all worked as part of the design team for the plan.

The plan breaks from the 2004 version, which focused primarily on beautification, by attempting to address more systematic problems. A centerpiece of this plan is to break the existing business districts into three zones: a “Main Street” based on retail / residential mixed-use buildings, a residential area with buildings restricted to two stories, and a denser area with housing and offices up to four stories.

The Town of Oyster Bay has committed $3 million in funds to improve the downtown streetscape with small fixes such as new sidewalks and decorative lighting. Other improvements include an athletic center, commuter parking garage and a seasonal farmers’ market with a large senior housing complex ti replace asphalt plants located at the edge of town.

The current downtown layout is focused primarily around the train station, creating more of a pass-through area than one that encourages walking and shopping. “People are coming to Hicksville just to hop on a train and hop off. We’re trying to capture some of that” said Mr. Chitty.

Read more in Newsday and the Hicksville Illustrator.

Read the full article here...


Advancing Complete Streets in Albany


AARP, Tri-State Transportation Campaign, The New York State Bicycling Coalition and Vision Long Island, spent a full day at the State Capitol this week advocating for passage of the Complete Street bill. With less than a month remaining in the legislative session, it was critically important to engage New York State Assembly members to see where they stood and to push for the movement on the bill. Complete Streets passed the Senate last year but failed to advance in the Assembly.

The group made the trip with Sandi Vega, a Wantagh mother whose 14-year-old daughter, Brittany, was struck and kiled by a car while crossing the street on her way to school last year. Sunrise Highway, a busy thoroughfare running through Vega’s neighborhood of Wantagh, did not have a clearly marked pedestrian crosswalk, a countdown clock or a pedestrian island, any of which might have prevented Brittany's tragic death.

Unfortunately, Brittany’s story is not an isolated case. According to a report released last week by Transportation for America, 47,700 pedestrians died throughout the country from 2000-2009, 67% of them on federally funded roads. In New York, the bicycle and pedestrian death rate is nearly twice the national average, with over 3,000 victims over the last decade. Meanwhile, in Nassau County, 31.3% of traffic deaths were pedestrians, while 19.7% were pedestrians in Suffolk County.

Representatives of the groups pulled key Assembly members off the floor on Wednesday to encourage their action and support on Complete Streets. Meetings were held with NYS Senator Charles Fuschillo, Assembly Members Steve Engelbright, Chuck Lavine, Michelle Schimel, Robert Sweeney, Harvey Weisenberg and staff from Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s office.

Complete Streets assures that new road construction and redesign takes into account the needs of all road users, including bicyclists, public transportation vehicles and passengers, motorists and pedestrians of all ages and abilities. The statewide Complete Streets policy would amend the NYS highway law so that any new road construction or redesign projects that receives State or Federal funding must at least consider implementing Complete Streets design features, such as clearly marked crosswalks, protected bike lanes and traffic calming devices.

Complete Streets laws have already been passed in 15 municipalities in New York State, including five towns on Long Island (Babylon, Brookhaven, Islip, North Hempstead and Southampton). At least 25 other states have passed statewide Complete Streets legislation, including Connecticut, Oregon, Massachusetts, Illinois and Virginia.

Read the full article here...

Residents continue to fight proposed Wal-Mart in E. Patchogue


After being out of the spotlight for almost a year, the construction of a Wal-Mart in East Patchogue has again raised concerns among local residents. The issue was last presented in June 2010, when the Town of Brookhaven rescinded zoning for a 108,000-square-foot store. The decision, however, permits the construction of a 98,000-square-foot building and consequently does not prohibit a Wal-Mart outright.

This time around, Wal-Mart submitted a Draft Environmental Impact Study (DEIS) for a smaller store in the same location at the intersection of Hospital Road and Sunrise Highway. The DEIS was originally accepted, but not approved, at a May 9th meeting of the Brookhaven Town Planning Board.

As in the past, the possibility of a ‘big box store’ being built was not welcomed by resident, many of whom believe that a Wal-Mart would hurt the nearby downtown and small businesses. Recognizing the strong opposition, the Planning Board announced their decision to rescind the acceptance of the DEIS and accrue additional public input. They will be holding a Public Scoping meeting on June 23rd at 7pm at the Brookhaven Town Hall Auditorium.

Due to the close proximity to a revitalized downtown Patchogue, Vision Long Island joins with local business and community leaders in their opposition to a Wal-Mart in their borders.

Read the full article here...

AvalonBay in Huntington Station gets zoning OK


On June 6th, the Huntington Town Board approved zoning for the proposed AvalonBay Communities’ Huntington Station project. Needless to say, the hearing was a madhouse, with residents and regional people speaking out (and screaming out) on both sides. The modified project will construct 379 housing units on a 26.5-acre parcel of vacant land located a half-mile away from Huntington’s Long Island Railroad Station. The new design will also meet the Suffolk County Planning Commission’s conditions for energy efficiency and public safety.

Despite continued opposition from local Huntington Station residents, Town Council Member Susan Berland believes that AvalonBay will “bring immediate benefits and serve as a catalyst for even greater improvements and growth.” Berland’s positive vote was joined by Mark Cuthbertson, Glenda Jackson and Supervisor Frank Petrone’s, while Mark Mayoka cast the sole dissenting vote.

AvalonBay Vice President for Development Matt Whalen assures that “in the end, this development will help to bring the community together and result in a better Huntington for all residents."

Vision Long Island supported the current and past AvalonBay proposals, as they would provide additional housing options near a highly-utilized train station. We hope lessons can be learned from the community interactions with this project and other revitalization efforts in Huntington Station moving forward.

Read the full article here...

Dowling hosts 1st Small Business Symposium

On Tuesday, June 28th, Dowling College’s American Communities Institute hosted a Small Business Symposium at their Rudolph-Oakdale Campus. The symposium, sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration, was held to discuss small business development with experts and share ideas about what can be done to improve the small business climate. Over 100 business, government and community leaders were present to discuss these issues and provide feedback.


After breakfast, Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos presented the morning’s introductory remarks. He began with a report on positive progress being made in Long Island, as well as the many formidable challenges ahead in a stagnant national economy that is failing to recover.

He shared the following national economic recommendations: 1) coordinate economic policy, foreign policy, tax policy, and immigration policy to regain our manufacturing competitiveness, 2) challenge China’s unfair trade practices, intellectual property theft, currency manipulation, and remove developing nation status, 3) declare a national commitment to energy independence in 10 years, 4) reform the Health Care Law to provide affordable health care through free markets, 5) encourage and stimulate manufacturing and enterprise clusters in strategic industries built around university campuses.

For the state and local level, he made the following suggestions: 1) repeal the Tri-Borough Amendment, 2) control pension and workers comp costs and repeal the MTA tax, 3) encourage and stimulate manufacturing/enterprise clusters in strategic industries built around university campuses, 4) provide an environment where young professionals want to live and raise a family with affordable housing and good schools, 5) provide state-of the-art infrastructure with efficient affordable public transportation.

“We must help our small business grow, attract talent, and compete internationally in target industries,” Maragos emphasized. Framing the day’s discussion, he posed the question, “What can government do to help our small business grow and prosper?”

A copy of Maragos' speech is available here.

The room then broke into four breakout panels: Main Street Businesses; Small Business Financing; Small Business Regulations; and Fast-Growing Small Business Sectors: Health Services, Professional Administrative Services, Financial Services, Technology, and Environmental (Green) Businesses.

Following the breakout sessions, participants joined together for lunch and a joint small business development session, where attendees presented the discussions and recommendations from their panels. The conversation concluded with recommendations for businesses to partner with local high school and college students to provide internships, mentoring and other practical opportunities. The symposium was part of a larger study being conducted by the American Communities Institute at Dowling College on the needs of small businesses. Further events and information gathering will take place this summer, including another forum on September 16th. Vision Long Island is assisting with the study.

For more information, stay tuned for updates on the Dowling website. Read more at LI Business News.

10th Annual Smart Growth Awards show Long Island's progress

600 Long Island leaders celebrate progress for our downtowns by honoring a dozen people, projects and policies; “Failure is NOT an option”


The 10th Annual Smart Growth Awards took place on Friday, June 17th from 11:30am to 2:00pm at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury. With over 600 people in attendance from diverse sectors, a keynote speech by NYS Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, a dozen Award presentations and News 12 Long Island’s Drew Scott acting as spirited emcee, the luncheon was a jam-packed and positive event that highlighted the progress that the region has made over the last year for the Smart Growth movement.

NYS Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, himself a 2003 honoree, gave a poignant keynote speech on the importance of prioritizing infrastructure and utilizing local solutions. Long Island is a great place but faces significant challenges, he explained, including limited land, environmental challenges and transit connections. “Infrastructure upgrades must be at the top of our to-do list,” he said. New York State needs somewhere in the ballpark of $250 billion for infrastructure improvements and, unfortunately, spending over the past several years has been targeting the wrong things. Because of this poor planning and an emphasis on building new infrastructure instead of repairing and expanding existing infrastructure, the state has not been helping municipalities. This is where the new Smart Growth Public Infrastructure Policy Act comes into play. DiNapoli floated the idea of a state infrastructure council to assess infrastructure needs and prioritize them in alignment with the new law. “In 2011, Smart Growth is not a radical concept,” said DiNapoli. We have people power on Long Island to create local, Smart Growth solutions. DiNapoli went on to thank Vision for their leadership in building the support for Smart Growth projects around the region. DiNapoli was presented with an honorary Smart Growth Award following his speech, in recognition of all the work he has done over the years to support Long Island.

Drew Scott of News 12 Long Island introduced each of the honorees, each of whom had a video clip played and were given the opportunity to come on stage for a short acceptance speech. This year’s honorees were: New York State Senator Carl Marcellino and New York State Assemblyman Sam Hoyt for regional leadership through the NYS Smart Growth Public Infrastructure Policy Act; Town of Babylon Supervisor Steve Bellone for Wyandanch Rising, Mayor Paul Pontieri for housing in the Village of Patchogue, Adrienne Esposito of Citizens Campaign for the Environment for open space, John Durso and Roger Clayman of the Long Island Federation of Labor for transportation, Kelly Douglas of West Islip High School and Jim Rhodes of Dowling College for youth leadership, Caithness Long Island Energy Center, Bishop Harrison Hale of Cornerstore Church of God in Christ, the Atlantis Marine World’s Hyatt Place in Riverhead, the Glen Cove Piazza project by Jobco Realty & Construction, Westbury Theater Project by Lowe Properties, and the Town of Brookhaven for the Portion Road Land Use Plan for Lake Ronkonkoma & Farmingville.

Empire State Future’s Peter Fleischer spoke briefly on behalf of the Smart Growth Public Infrastructure Policy Act, as he was heavily involved in passing the law, and Senator Marcellino and Assemblyman Hoyt were stuck in Albany.

Congratulations to this year's distinguished honorees!

Read more about the honorees and the event in our full-coverage write-up...


After years of planning, it's time to vote YES on August 1st


On Wednesday, July 14th, Vision Long Island held a press conference to support the Nassau Coliseum bond referendum that will take place on August 1st. Attendees included Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, Hicksville Chamber President Lionel Chitty, Vision Board Members Trudy Fitzsimmons, John Keating, Neal Lewis, Bruce Migatz, Michael Posillico and Michael Puntillo as well as Vision’s Executive Director Eric Alexander, Assistant Director Tawaun Weber, Sustainability Director Elissa Ward and Director of Special Projects Chris Kyle.

Eric Alexander highlighted the numerous reasons for Vision’s support of the new coliseum, explaining that at this moment “there is a mix of uses, but they’re not assembled in a way that’s a real, true place. The idea isn’t to lose pieces of the puzzle, but to build upon what we have.” Vision encourages the new design to include an integrated mix of uses, various housing options including a workforce component, accessibility to public transportation, walkable streets and a strong and safe link to surrounding destinations. Vision hopes to see ample state and federal dollars for infrastructure improvements surrounding the new development, which was absent from previous redevelopment proposals.

According to the County’s Economic Impact Statement, the project would provide a positive cash flow of $2.2 million annually, in excess of the debt service of $26 million. The new building would also attract approximately 1.37 million visitors each year versus the no-build alternative of 100,500 visitors.

Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano said he believed the revitalization could be the “envy of the east coast.” After being at a crossroads for ten years, the decision has to be made to keep the area as a sports destination, which can not only retain jobs and commerce, but also expand it. Mangano stressed that without improvements, the sports teams, businesses and entertainment opportunities will continue to leave the county and spend their money elsewhere. Instead, public financing can restore the area and “leave the dollars here to be spent and re-spent."

Vision Board Members Michael Posillico of Posillico, Michael Puntillo Jr. of the Jobco Organization and Neal Lewis of the Sustainability Institute at Molloy College all voiced their support at the conference. They agreed that the completed project will spur critical and long-term economic growth for the core of Nassau County by expanding the tax base and providing jobs. “It’s time for action,” said Lewis, who emphasized the importance of resident involvement in the vote, since they have a stake in the county property.

Lionel Chitty of the Hicksville Chamber of Commerce agreed that “this is a no-brainer.”

While there are drawbacks to almost any redevelopment strategy, Vision believes that at this time and date, public financing for the Coliseum is the best option for progress at the Nassau Hub. Voting “yes” for the bond will allow the Islanders to stay on Long Island, preserve the tax base and provide the opportunity for mixed-use development and revitalization in the surrounding region.

Read the full article here...

Sandy Hills project gets the thumbs up

Brookhaven Town Board approved Sandy Hills project

sandy hills

On Tuesday, July 19th and after nearly two years of controversy, the Brookhaven Town Board granted developer Frank Weber the necessary zoning changes to build housing and commercial retail on a 39-acre wooded lot in Middle Island on the east side of Rocky Point Road, just north of Middle Country Road.

The mixed-use plan will include over 100 units of two- and three-bedroom condos and townhouses as well as 27 units of workforce housing above commercial buildings. The project is also meant to encompass Smart Growth principals through its pedestrian-oriented design. The project will preserve 18 acres of open space, including a purchase of three Pine Barrens credits at $70,000 each. Additionally, there will be a sewage treatment center on site to ensure that polluted runoff will not flow directly into nearby Carmans River.

As explained by Gail Lynch-Bailey, President of the Longwood Alliance and First Vice President of the Middle Island Civic Association, “the top two chambers of Middle Island’s heart have been dying for more than a decade. Sandy Hills will pump new life and energy into these chambers, bring jobs, homes and recreation.”

To read more, see Brookhaven’s Press Release.

Read the full article here...

Grand opening: Artspace Lofts in downtown Patchogue


On Wednesday, July 27th the much anticipated Artspace Lofts Development in Patchogue opened its doors for the first time to the public. Artspace is an $18-million, 60,000-square-foot, five-story live-work complex located at 20 Terry Street, one block off Main Street in Patchogue, a Smart Growth Award-winning downtown. The mixed-use complex consists of 45 housing units, each with a work space for artists. The complex also houses a gallery and retail space. The project was funded by the sale of tax-exempt bonds through the New York State Housing Finance Agency, federal and state low-income housing tax credits, county and local economic development funds, developer investment and philanthropic contributions. Construction began in December 2009 and was completed in June 2011.

Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri stated that “Artspace, like the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts, has spearheaded Patchogue’s transition to a Village of the Arts and home for artists to bring their craft to the people." By allowing high-density developments such as Artspace near its downtown, Patchogue benefits from a rise in the commercial occupancy rate and the growth of the downtown as a community. "Now you can watch a show, go to a restaurant, go to a gallery,” said Pontieri. “The artists will become part of the community."

The grand opening celebration was free and open to the public and included a ribbon-cutting ceremony followed by food, entertainment and tours of open studios.

An editorial in Newsday further celebrated the event. “All 45 of the units in the five-story space have been leased... Whatever their age or medium, what they have in common is a need for a congenial, not-too-pricey place to live and practice their art. What they give back is the sense of buzz and excitement that successful downtowns can't do without.”

To read more, check out the Patchogue Patch and the Newsday editorial.

Read the full article here...


Governor Cuomo signs Complete Streets legislation!

complete streets

On August 15th, NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the historic Complete Streets legislation. The State Senate and Assembly unanimously passed the bill earlier this summer.

In a press release from the Governor's office, he said "New York's roadways should safely accommodate all pedestrians, motorists and cyclists, and this legislation will help communities across the state achieve this objective," Governor Cuomo said. "Complete Streets designs recognize measures that will make streets safer for New Yorkers of all ages and abilities. I thank Senator Fuschillo and Assemblyman Gantt for their hard work on this legislation."

NYS Senator Charles Fuschillo said "Complete streets design principles have been proven to reduce fatalities and injuries, and by taking them into consideration on future projects we will greatly improve the safety of pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers of all ages and abilities. This new law will result in safer roadways and I thank Governor Cuomo for supporting this law which will help save lives, prevent injuries, and make New York a safer place for all."

Eric Alexander, Executive Director of Vision Long Island, said "Pedestrian and bicycle fatalities have continued to be a major safety concern for all road users on LI. The newly enacted "Complete Streets" legislation wil help reverse that trend. Kudos to Governor Cuomo, Sen. Fuschillo and the NYS Senate and the NYS Assembly for moving this important bill forward. This is the third piece of major legislation signed into law in two years advanced by the LI Lobby Coalition. 45 LI civic, environmental, transportation, human service and business organizations worked together on the Complete Streets bill this year among other priorities."

Thank you to all our state legislators who helped pass this historic legislation! Senators: Charles Fuschillo (bill sponsor), Jack Martins, Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Kenneth LaValle, John Flanagan, Lee Zeldin, Owen Johnson, Carl Marcellino & Kemp Hannon. Assembly members: Dan Losquadro, Fred Thiele, Dean Murray, Steven Englebright, Al Graf, Philip Ramos, Michael Fitzpatrick, Philip Boyle, Andrew Raia, James Conte, Robert Sweeney, Joseph Saladino, Charles Lavine, Brian Curran, Michael Montesano, Michelle Schimel, Tom McKevitt, Earlene Hooper, David McDonough, Harvey Weisenberg and Edward Ra.

This bill could not have moved forward without significant local support and advocacy.

Special thanks go out to members of the Long Island Lobby Coalition who have been calling and writing constantly over the last month, including Tri-State Transportation Campaign, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Mayer Horn of Greenman-Pedersen, Tom Talbot of Middle Island Civic Association, Ralph Fasano of Concern for Independent Living, Ernie Mattace of Suffolk County Community College, Carol Meschkow of Concerned Citizens of the Plainview-Old Bethpage Community, Will Ferris of AARP, Peter Fleischer of Empire State Future, and others!

Read more in Newsday and The Albany Times-Union. See the Governor's press release here.

Read the full article here...

Voters turn down Coliseum referendum, Mangano looks for other options

colisum ref

The referendum which would have allowed Nassau County to borrow $400 million to redevelop the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum and build a minor league baseball park among other possible projects at the site deemed “The Hub” was not approved by voters. With 57% of voters rejecting a publicly-funded development project, the Islanders’ future in Nassau County, along with that of the Coliseum itself, is unsure. Islanders’ owner Charles Wang hopes to keep the team as close to the current arena as possible, but plans to explore other opportunities for the team, whose lease at the site expires in 2015.

County Executive Mangano believed the publicly-funded plan would be the catalyst for increased revenue and job growth in Nassau. After the defeat, he called for private developers to come forward and send his office plans to develop the Hub saying, "I can tell you this, tonight is not the end of our journey, but merely the beginning. In the coming weeks I will explore a path for new opportunities and growth in Nassau County." Mangano’s office is in the process of filing a Request For Proposals to give developing rights to a private holder. The RFP is open to several options that both include and exclude the arena as well as leasing or selling the land. The County Executive’s only request is that the plans generate revenue and jobs and improve the quality of life in Nassau County.

For more on the vote and plans for the future at the site, see coverage in two Newsday articles here and here and in the Long Island Herald here.

Read the full article here...

Belmont casino plan moves forward


In a recent meeting, the Shinnecock Indian Nation and local Elmont leaders produced a proposal for Belmont Park that included a 400- to 600-room hotel, a gaming facility and entertainment complex with restaurants, along with a renovated LIRR station and soccer field. All of this would compliment a modernized racetrack grandstand while the casino would be placed on a 35 to 45 acre lot south of the racetrack. The community plan emphasized not only the development of the crumbling southern lot, but also the construction of a shopping center and restaurants. The current proposal is estimated to net 12,000 full time jobs and 3,450 construction jobs.

A source close to the project indicated that although the plan is in line with the vision, the Shinnecocks are still in the process of meeting with local community members and politicians before finalizing the plan. The proposal has not been approved on any governmental level and no one from the tribe has met with Governor Cumo's representatives. “We plan to have a number of meetings with the community,” according to the source. “We want to hear what the community has to say. We want to start from the beginning and be good neighbors.”

The Elmont community, though supportive of a Belmont casino, wants to ensure additional development occurs as well. Newly-elected NYS Senator Jack Martins (R-Mineola) has expressed support for the casino project in conjunction with a revitalization initiative. A spokesperson for Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano has stated that he will continue to work with the Shinnecock Nation on the casino agreement, which will include revenue sharing and approval at the federal level in order to place the non-tribal lands in trust. The Belmont property is also partially owned by the Village of Floral Park, whose mayor, Hon. Tom Tweedy, has raised concerns about additional traffic in the area.

The Shinnecock nation will holding several community meetings in the coming weeks with the feedback and discussion being presented to Cuomo's office. You can check for casino updates online here.

To read the full story concerning the Casino's development, see the Long Island Herald's original article.

Read the full article here...

Glen Cove Piazza approved

glen cove

Long Island has needed some good news lately and we got it Wednesday night when the Glen Cove City Planning Board granted approval on Jobco's plan to build Glen Cove Piazza!

Located in Village Square, the project features ground level commercial space and 3-4 stories of housing above the retail. The housing consists of 142 units of rental apartments, ranging from 750 square feet for a 1-bedroom affordable apartment to 1,200 square feet for a 2-bedroom market rate apartment. Approximately half of these units will be marketed to nearby college students. An agreement is in the works with New York Institute of Technology to rent out many of the units to medical students working on their graduate degrees. There will be 28,000 square feet of retail space for service-oriented businesses.

The centerpiece of the development will be a refurbished, decorative-brick public plaza whose design mimics historic European plazas. The plaza will emphasize walkability and functioning public space to bring people outside and will be in close proximity to transportation services such as Long Island Bus, Long Island Rail Road and the new ferry terminal with service to New York City. By pairing housing with a mixture of other uses, the apartments will be easily marketed to young, working professionals.

The community has won 6 Smart Growth Awards to date, including the Piazza’s 2011 honor for Creating a Sense of Place. Congratulations to developer Jobco and project leader Michael Puntillo Jr., a Vision Long Island Board Member. This is a well-earned victory that will bring enormous benefits to the downtown!

See the Smart Growth Awards video for the Glen Cove Piazza here.

Read the full article here...

Aquarium celebrates opening of hotel and exhibition center


The Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center in downtown Riverhead (formerly Atlantis Marine World) celebrated the grand opening of its exhibition center and Hyatt Place hotel last month. The ribbon-cutting celebration on July 1st drew over 1,000 children and adults ready to explore the new exhibits!

Located near the center of town and as Long Island’s only aquarium, Atlantis has always been a great attraction. The new Hyatt Place Long Island/East End and the Exhibition Center are connected to the existing aquarium and were built on underutilized properties. The hotel is five stories tall and features 100 rooms over 70,000 square feet of space, while the two-story exhibit center and catering hall takes up 29,000 square feet and includes 5,000 square feet flexible gallery space. There are ten meeting spaces options available that accommodate from 40-650 people, including a tour boat, outdoor stadium and the Sea Star Ballroom.

Read some reviews in the New York Times and on and check out an interview with Bryan DeLuca at Riverhead Local. To see the video on the project from the 2011 Smart Growth Awards, go to Vision’s YouTube page.

Read the full article here...

Funds secured for Wyandanch Rising project


The Federal Transportation, Community and System Preservation Program this week allocated $1.95 million in funding to the Wyandanch Rising revitalization project. The project includes the construction of the Wyandanch Intermodal Plaza and Roadway Network Construction project, which will establish bus pick-up and drop-off locations as well as bike storage adjacent to the Long Island Rail Road station and the proposed Wyandanch Intermodal Facility.

According to Sen. Chuck Schumer, the creation of the plaza, along with a reconfigured roadway that will provide the street network required to re-route truck traffic out of the downtown area, would help to reduce the amount of traffic around the train station.

To learn more, check out the original article from Long Island Business News.

Read the full article here...


People’s Hearing for Long Island Bus: Over 200 riders, taxpayers, businesses and workers demand answers


It was standing room only at Wednesday night’s People’s Hearing for the Long Island Bus at the Ethical Humanist Society in Garden City. Over 200 people were in attendance including riders, students, AbleRide users, labor, civics, chambers of commerce, businesses, Smart Growth advocates, religious leaders and more. Of all the Nassau County elected officials invited to attend and listen to their constituents, 6 legislator showed up: Hons. Judi Bosworth, David Denenberg, Denise Ford, Judy Jacobs, Robert Troiano, and Wayne Wink. Also in attendance were NYS Senator Jack Martins, a representative from NYS Assemblywoman Michele Schimel’s office and representatives from Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos’s office.

The hearing was organized by Tri-State Transportation Campaign, Vision Long Island, the LI Federation of Labor, the NY Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), LI Jobs With Justice, LI Progressive Coalition and NY Communities for Change. It was held due to the lack of County-sponsored hearings about the privatization of one of the largest suburban bus systems in the country.

The overall message of the hearing was asking Nassau County to commit to five years without fare hikes or service cuts, regardless of who is operating Long Island Bus. With the news of Jay Walder’s departure in October 2011, the groups also urged the County to reenter negotiations with the MTA.

Nearly 40 concerned citizens spoke at the non-partisan hearing, ranging from students to AbleRide users to bus drivers. They raised some important concerns, including about routes, fares, transparency, small businesses, young people and overall service.

Senator Jack Martins noted that “you judge a society by how they treat their people in need.” Legislator Jacobs noted that fare revenues under Veolia are not sustainable and Legislator Ford spoke about some state funding options that still need to be explored, such as more red light cameras. Legislator Denenberg fired up the crowd, saying that a public agency needs to be publicly funded and we cannot privatize an essential service. Legislator Bosworth said she was appalled at the poor process. She noted that there is a plan for a County-run hearing now, but only after the contract with Veolia is complete in a few months. Legislator Wink spoke about the contract process, which will be a “rules only contract” meaning the full legislature will not have the opportunity to vote on it. Legislator Troiano encouraged attendees to take action: “You are more powerful than you realize,” he said. Jostyn Hernandez and Gabriel Martinez from the Comptroller’s office spoke about the privatization study that the Comptroller released last November (available here), which recommended a public solution with the County and MTA.

Read the full article here...

LI Smart Growth Working Group: Complete Streets, LI Bus, Nassau Hub, Infrastructure and more

The Long Island Smart Growth Working Group held a vibrant and informative meeting on September 7th at the RXR building in Melville. Nearly 70 individuals gathered to hear from NYS Senator Charles Fuschillo, along with NYS Assemblyman Tom McKevitt, on the recently passed Complete Streets legislation. The group also heard over a dozen updates from local elected officials, developers, planners and others.

Complete Streets

Senator Fuschillo gave a heartfelt thank you to everyone in the room who worked to get the Complete Streets bill passed. Complete Streets is long overdue for New York and the bill will include benefits for pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycles, the environment, health, public transportation and more. The Senator described his drive to the meeting, where he looked at the roads differently and worried about the lack of pedestrian facilities.

Assemblyman McKevitt added that he was very glad to support this bill. He noted that many municipalities had economic concerns, but the local and state elected officials communicated effectively and worked through any issues. The law will take effect in February 2012, six months after Gov. Cuomo signed the historic legislation.

LI Bus

Tri-State Transportation Campaign’s Ryan Lynch discussed the future of the soon-to-be-privatized bus system. Along with stabilized fares, we are hoping that the County will reopen negotiations with the MTA when a new CEO is named. Senator Fuschillo, who helped save the bus system through the end of 2011, noted that State funds could still be used for a private system, as they are in other counties. Hempstead Town Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby reiterated the detrimental impacts of service cuts and fare increases on her district, and thanked the Senator for providing the additional funding.

Priority Infrastructure

A major priority for the Working Group is the implementation of the new NYS Smart Growth Public Infrastructure Policy law. We must ensure that state resources go into downtowns. Peter Fleischer of Empire State Future explained the progress coming from Albany, and unfortunately noted that there is “no indication that the administration is going out of their way to implement the Infrastructure Act.” Any progress has not been publicized, so folks will have to stay vigilant in the coming months. Fleischer also noted that his group will serve as a watchdog for the Governor’s Regional Economic Development Councils. A member of the LI Council, LI Federation of Labor’s John Durso said that the group is trying to simplify the process to apply for funds.

Vision has convened a committee that is identifying downtowns where there should be growth. These priority infrastructure locations and projects will be assembled and presented to elected officials so they can identify funding priorities in alignment with the new infrastructure law. Senator Fuschillo said he would be happy to meet with the committee once we have the final list.

Nassau Hub

There was some discussion over the future of the Nassau Hub, which has seen 4 failed plans since the mid-90s. The group agreed that something needs to get done at the Hub and whatever it is must address housing and job opportunities for young people, must include a strong infrastructure package, and must truly engage the community throughout the redevelopment process. An upcoming visioning meeting in Uniondale will address some of these issues.

Local and Regional Planning Updates

There were updates from various Town and Village elected officials, along with private sector representatives working with municipalities.

For more information on the LI Smart Growth Working Group please contact Vision at 631-261-0242 or

Read the full article here...

Coram to build mixed-use center on old theater site


On September 20th, Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Connie Kepert and Supervisor Mark Lesko announced a new plan for a $59 million redevelopment of the former United Artists (UA) Movie Theatre in Coram. This project will eliminate the blight that has attracted vandals and homeless people since the theater shut down in 2004 and create an affordable housing and retail complex. The new development will feature 160 apartments and almost 50,000 square feet of retail space.Not only will this project provide affordable housing and shopping for the community, but it is also projected to generate 319 construction jobs and 112 permanent jobs.

The developers for the project, Conifer Realty LLC and Community Development Corporation of Long Island (CDC), have been partners for over 12 years and share the same mission of providing affordable housing. Marianne Garvin, President and CEO of the CDC said, "CDC of Long Island targeted this site for redevelopment because of Connie Kepert and Mark Lesko's clarion call for removing blight and uplifting the Coram community, which resonate with CDC'S mission." CDC of Long Island is a not-for-profit organization that supports Long Islanders pursuing their housing and small business dreams.

The UA Movie Theater property was one of the first included in Supervisor Lesko's "Blight to Light" initiative to eliminate suburban blight in the Town of Brookhaven and redevelop these sites into mixed use, community friendly areas. This project was planned with the guidance of the Middle Country Road Land Use Plan, adopted in 2006 with Vision's help and support. Vision Long Island conducted a visioning process in the Coram and Middle Island communities in 2002 in coordination with local civics, business leaders and the Town of Brookhaven.

Vision's Eric Alexander was interviewed outside of the press event this week. Check out the video here. Read more in Newsday here and the North Shore Sun here.

Read the full article here...

Glen Isle makes changes; City of Glen Cove hears from residents

glen cove

The number of new town center proposals on Long Island continues to grow, and over the last few weeks one has taken some significant steps forward. Glen Isle, the large-scale redevelopment of the Glen Cove waterfront, was the subject of a public hearing held by the City of Glen Cove on Tuesday evening. Earlier this month, RXR Glen Isle Partners announced there would be several changes to the original design, including lower building heights and a higher ratio of rental units. The majority of speakers at the hearing were positive, which bodes well for the pending approval of this project.

The project will still have 860 units of housing. The mix has shifted to 65% rentals (531 units) and 35% condos (271 units). A significant number of these will also be workforce or affordable units, targeting young professionals, amongst others. The 10-12 story buildings will be split into several 4-story buildings with parking underneath, making the pedestrian experience more typical of other walkable residential neighborhoods throughout the country.

The new plan incorporates green roofs as part of its stormwater management plan, which is a great, ecologically friendly way to absorb rainfall during storms, help reduce the heat island effect and provide food and habitat for birds, bees and other beneficial insects. Another change is the addition of a roundabout at the project’s main intersection, which will improve traffic flow and improve pedestrian safety. The development will still include a 250-room hotel, 19 acres of parks and open space and ample office and retail space.

Vision Long Island honored Glen Isle with a Smart Growth Award in 2010 for “Creating a Mix of Uses.” We are pleased to see the project advance through the FEIS stage and hope it receives its final approvals.

The FEIS is available on Glen Cove’s website. Read more in Newsday here.

Read the full article here...

Huntington’s Paramount Theater opens


Long Island’s newest major concert venue has arrived, and it has arrived in style.

The Paramount Theater, on New York Avenue, is in the heart of Huntington Village, at the former site of the IMAC. Some Vision staffers had the opportunity to attend the launch party on Monday night and were thoroughly impressed. The interior was gritty and stylish, with an industrial feel mixed with clean, modern amenities and technology. The main level has an open floor plan and the balcony level has seats wrapping around, along with a VIP Founders Club, many bars, bathrooms painted by local graffiti artists, and stairwell walls adorned with handwritten song lyrics.

The Town of Huntington is enthusiastic about the potential for the theater to bring more people into the downtown who can visit local shops for pre-show dinner or shopping. A parking management plan is also in place to ease downtown traffic: 344 spaces at the Huntington LIRR station will be available concert-goers, with two 30-passenger trolleys making a 4-minute loop from 5pm until at least 2am on concert nights. Additional spaces have been secured at Town Hall and on upper Elm Street.

More upcoming acts and information are on the Paramount’s website.

A job well done to the Paramount team, including Hoffman Grayson Architects and the Town of Huntington, for putting together a great project. Check out some press coverage in LI PressNewsdayNewsday/Explore LI and Huntington Patch

Read the full article here...

Riverhead revitalization continues as Vintage returns


On September 26th, John Burke of the Vintage Group revealed plans for two new developments in downtown Riverhead. The first is a mixed-use project between the train station and the courthouse that includes 150 residential units, a 750 car multi-level parking structure, a movie theater and ground level retail. Vision gave this project a Smart Growth Award several years ago, but the project had been stalled due to economic constraints. The second project is a 250 residential unit building with ground level retail on Main Street, near the Suffolk Theater.

These two projects will piggyback on a plethora of revitalization efforts taking place in downtown Riverhead already. Several Smart Growth Award winning projects are also involved, including the new Hyatt Place Hotel and LI Aquarium relaunch and the Suffolk County Community College Culinary Arts Center. The Hyatt and Aquarium were featured as a multi-page spread in Newsday this week. Other housing projects are underway including Summer Wind Square and Concern Riverhead.

For more information visit and Riverhead News Review.

Read the full article here...

FEIS accepted for Mt. Sinai Village Centre plan; mixed responses from residents

mt sinai

The Brookhaven Town Board adopted the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Mt. Sinai Village Centre project last week, in a 6-1 vote, with Councilwoman Jane Bonner casting the sole dissenting vote.

The project, first proposed in 2005, is located east of the King Kullen shopping center in Mt. Sinai, covering about 30 acres with retail and a community center. It will include a new clock tower, benches, gardens and other beautification efforts. Developer Paul Elliot of Soundview Realty has said that the project will connect with the King Kullen center, “allowing shoppers to walk, shop, eat, conduct banking and make office visits.”

The project’s website explains the project as “a beautiful retail-professional office center grounded by a magnificent clock tower and park-like green spaces. You might feel as though you had entered a New England hamlet, complete with gardens, benches, and a walk-able downtown main street. Mt. Sinai Village Centre will be the centerpiece of a revitalized and well-planned corridor that serves as a gateway to Mt. Sinai…a shining example of intelligent design and meticulous attention to detail, shaped by members of the community it will serve.”

According to the Village Beacon Record, residents are divided over the potential impact of the project. While some have been waiting patiently for years to see this redevelopment take place, others have expressed concerns over the impact on local businesses, residents and traffic.

Elliot must still get zone change approval from the Town. If approved, construction could begin next spring and completed in 2014.

Vision Long Island conducted the original public meeting and resulting plan for mixed-use development at the site which included housing. The housing component was removed and additional commerical space was added after objections from local residents.

Read more at the Times Beacon Record and on the project’s website.

Read the full article here...


Connect Long Island plan unveiled


“I’m shocked,” said Vision’s Eric Alexander, speaking at a press conference on Thursday at the unveiling of “Connect Long Island: A Regional Transportation and Development Plan” spearheaded by Town of Babylon Supervisor Steve Bellone and supported by a large group of local and regional leaders. Elected officials in attendance included Supervisor Bellone, Town of Huntington Supervisor Frank Petrone, Town of Islip Supervisor Phil Nolan, Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Mark Lesko, NYS Senator Charles Fuschillo, Village of Farmingdale Mayor George “Butch” Starkie, Village of Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri and Town of Babylon Councilman Tony Martinez. LIRR’s Elisa Picca and LI Regional Planning Council’s John Cameron also spoke.

Thursday’s press conference was held at the Multiplex Cinema on Route 110 and Conklin Street. While re-opening the nearby Republic Airport LIRR station has long been a goal of Supervisor Bellone, it had previously failed to gain traction or funding. Now, re-opening the station will be paired with several new components, including a new mixed-use center on the giant asphalt lot that currently surrounds the Multiplex. This site will become a walkable town center with a blend of retail, residential and entertainment uses. Another central piece of the plan is a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) route along the Route 110 corridor, which will provide a much-needed North-South connection for LI’s transit network. Funding for large-scale transit projects are key to the plan, including adding a second LIRR track from Farmingdale to Ronkonkoma and to the East Side Access.

The plan focuses on supporting existing and proposed transit-oriented developments and revitalization efforts in Mineola, Farmingdale, East Farmingdale, Wyandanch, Brentwood, Ronkonkoma, Copiague, Bay Shore and Patchogue. The press release for the event states, “As standalone developments these efforts are important to our region because they help address regional challenges by creating new job opportunities, strengthening small businesses, creating vibrant places attractive to young people and diversifying our housing stock. But taken together, each TOD adds to the values of the TODs to which it connects, forming a whole greater than the sum of its parts.”

Vision was also quoted in Newsday. “Eric Alexander of Vision Long Island, a smart-growth advocacy group, said with demand for housing with mass transit access growing rapidly, a plan for regional transit infrastructure was ‘visionary and logical.’” Read more in Newsday and in LI Business News.

Read the full article here...

Mixed-use project approved in Yaphank


On Tuesday night, the Brookhaven Town Board approved zoning that will allow a large mixed-use project to come to Yaphank, in a vote of 6-0 with one abstention. The Meadows at Yaphank will be located on the site of the former Parr Meadows Race Track, covering 322 acres and branding itself as a “vibrant mixed-use community.”

Developer AVR Realty plans to build 850 housing units with a mix of townhouses, condominiums and rental apartments, including 10% workforce housing. The residential section will include open space. The retail section, encompassing 327,500 square feet of stores, will cater to residential needs. According to the official website, “the larger anchor store and supermarket will have landscaped parking areas directly in front of their stores, while the smaller retailers will be located along the center boulevard, creating a downtown Main Street feel.” The office park will include 550,000 square feet of office space, designed so residents can walk to work and workers can walk to lunch or to run errands. The project also includes 5,000 square feet of restaurant space, a 220-room hotel, two baseball fields, an athletic field and a community center, as well as $4.2 million in improvements to the Dorade Sewer Treatment Plant that will service the site.

Read more in NewsdayLong Island Business News, and view the official project website here.

Read the full article here...

Bus advocates support continued service at the Nassau Legislature


On October 12th, the full Nassau County Legislature held a hearing on the 2012 budget, which includes a paltry $2.5 million for Long Island Bus. This represents a 73% decrease in funding over 2011 levels and is far too low to fund a bus system whether it is private or not (Suffolk pays about $24 million for its private system; Westchester about $33 million). Given new leadership coming to the MTA, groups are calling for the County Executive to get back to the table and renegotiate for a public system. Most importantly, there has been an extreme lack of transparency throughout this process, with no public hearing scheduled to date and few concrete details released on what a Veolia-run bus system would look like.

Bus advocates, riders and unionized bus drivers took that message to the Legislature. As the meeting began, a member of the coalition from LI Jobs with Justice walked straight up to the podium to request a public hearing. Meanwhile, dozens people in the audience stood up, many covering their mouths with handkerchiefs and carrying signs lamenting the silencing of bus riders. Vision’s Policy Director Tara Klein spoke, along with Tri-State Transportation Campaign’s Ryan Lynch and TWU Local 252.

Many of the Legislators, including Legislators Ciotti, Ford, Abrahams, Denenberg, Bosworth, Dunne and Wink, all expressed support for the bus service. By the end it seemed as though the Legislature had agreed to hold a formal public hearing on the bus sometime before the contract goes into effect, though they did not set a date. The next step is for the Legislature to approve the budget by the end of October. Legislator Ciotti has said on record that he would vote down a private contract if it included service cuts or fare increases.

Meanwhile, NYS Senator Jack Martins is calling for more State support. Martins wrote a personal letter to Cuomo, which is outlined in this Elmont Online article.

LI Press wrote a long feature on the LI Bus, which includes rider and driver perspectives as well as angry responses from the County Executive and Presiding Officer.

Read the full article here...

Mangano unveils ambitious Nassau Hub plan


Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano unveiled his latest plan for revitalization at the Nassau Hub on Monday. The new proposal, which was submitted to the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council, calls for a completely rebuilt Nassau Coliseum, a bioscience innovation center, a research and development expo center, office space above retail stores and residential housing options, all on a 77-acre site.

The plan, his most ambitious yet, also includes other attractions such as a minor league ballpark, multi-purpose exposition center and a track and field facility. Parking for the entire facility will be located in a multi-story garage located behind the current site of the Long Island Marriott.

This plan will rely on funds from the state government and private developers. The County is seeking $253 million in total funding from the state for infrastructure improvements as well as $7 million from the state for the construction of the research and development expo center.

In addition to this, Mangano’s Accelerate Nassau Now plan will call for the increase of manufacturing options at the former Grumman property in Bethpage and the Belmont Raceway in Elmont. A number of serious developers have shown interest in construction of a soccer stadium in conjunction with mixed-use development at the raceway. This is all in addition to Mangano’s continued support for a casino at Belmont, a measure aimed at creating thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in investments for local schools, the state, county and local community.

For more information on this project, check out Long Island Business News’ original article.

Read the full article here...


Does Long Island need another mall?

mall no mall

On November 6th, more than 300 demonstrators gathered in Syosset at the site of the old Cerro Wire property to protest renewed efforts by Taubman Center, Inc. to build an upscale shopping mall on the site. The protest, held on Robbins Lane outside the fenced property, garnered such a large crowd that police were forced to temporarily shut down the two westbound lanes of traffic.

Despite a 2009 State Court of Appeals decision to uphold the Town of Oyster Bay's rejection of the $500 million development over environmental concerns, the company continues to push for the approval of the project. Taubman's Vice President of Development attended the Long Island Regional Planning Council, asking for the group to endorse it as a "project of regional significance" for the jobs and tax revenues it would create.

The Town of Oyster Bay remains split, with many saying that although it may produce revenue, the mall would increase traffic and decrease quality of life. Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto attended the rally on Sunday and said, "take this project somewhere else, where it may do good, where it may make sense. We don't need a 10-pound mall on a 5-pound piece of land."

Vision is heartened that the community is looking for an alternative to the project in the form of a Smart Growth, mixed-use development including a hotel, retail, office, senior and affordable housing.

Read more in Newsday.

Read the full article here...

Farmingdale Village Board votes unanimously on proposed zoning revisions


On Monday November 7th, the Village of Farmingdale Board of Trustees voted unanimously to accept and approve the Village of Farmingdale Master Plan, GEIS and code revisions. The new local zoning codes will create a mixed-use district and will allow residential units to be built over stores on Main Street.

"The downtown area in Farmingdale is ripe for jobs and business," said Chuck Gosline, a Farmingdale resident and President of Concerned Citizens Association of Farmingdale. "This is an opportunity for us to improve the area and make it better than it is now." The Nassau County Planning Commission approved the documents for local determination so the pending downtown projects can advance without further study.

Farmingdale's visioning process started in 2006, and since then, only a handful of projects have moved forward in light of three years of reviews. Hopefully, some of the long awaited downtown improvements will now move forward!

Vision’s Director Eric Alexanderwass quoted saying "it's precisely the type of planning that we need to grow our downtowns."

Read more in Newsday here.

Read the full article here...

The 10th Annual Smart Growth Summit

Over 100 presenters and 1000 regional business & community leaders convene to advance placemaking & economic development on Long Island


The 10th Annual Smart Growth Summit took place on Friday, November 18th at the Melville Marriott. With 1000 attendees, 110 speakers, nearly 50 elected officials, 15 breakout sessions, a youth component, productive networking and excellent remarks by both federal and local leaders, the Summit was a clear demonstration of the tremendous support in our region for Smart Growth solutions. The crowd included elected officials, chambers of commerce, civic leaders, developers, architects, planners, not-for-profits and concerned citizens.

The Summit’s 15 breakout panels, youth summit and elected officials session were intelligent, thought-provoking, energetic and inspirational for the attendees. This year’s Summit theme, “Crisis and Opportunity: Placemaking in a Time of Economic Uncertainty,” seemed to focus more on progress than on challenges, though we still have a great deal of work to do to create a truly sustainable region.

Smart Growth solutions of targeting infrastructure investment into growth centers save money for local and regional governments. Investing in small businesses in our downtowns helps preserve our economic base and supporting mixed use development in key locations will grow our economy, house our young people and create jobs. This year’s Summit brought together the best practices of Smart Growth from LI, the region and the nation. Progress is underway: Nearly 5,000 units of housing adjacent to transit have been approved over the last five years with another 5,000 under review. Millions of dollars in infrastructure investment targeted towards Long Island’s downtowns, corridors and new town centers is planned, approved or under construction as well.

“In times of economic uncertainty just as families pull together to make ends meet community, government and business leaders need to work together to keep our downtowns and communities afloat.” Eric Alexander, Executive Director of Vision Long Island

Read the full event coverage, including writeups from each working session, here...


Freeport’s “The C” gains approval

the c

Congratulations to “The C,” which gained zoning approval from the Freeport Zoning Board this week. A 2010 Smart Growth Award winner for compact design, this project consists of three retail ground-level units and five duplex residential upper level units. The project is an infill building, located on Guy Lombardo Avenue a few blocks from the Freeport train station.

The C serves as a great model of how to redevelop within a downtown, creating a mixed-use, concentrated and space-efficient building within a small space. It is especially successful in overcoming zoning that dates back to the 1950s.

Vision has supported this project throughout its process. Congratulations to local developer Muzzio Tallini of the Signature Organization who fought tirelessly for this project!

Read the full article here...

Regional Councils Announce Awards; Long Island wins big

regional councils

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan to create ten regions that compete for new economic development funds has turned out tremendously well for Long Island. The awards for the Regional Economic Development Councils were announced on Thursday. Long Island was selected as one of four regions with the “best plan,” and our funding will amount to $101.6 million: $61.6 million toward individual projects that were submitted through the state’s new consolidated funding application and $40 million toward implementing the LI Council’s strategic plan (which includes $25 million for the plan’s “transformative projects” and $15 million toward businesses looking to expand Excelsior tax credits).

A number of Smart Growth and downtown revitalization projects made the list, with innovative programs funded including job training efforts, energy efficiency research, expanding the IT industry, open space preservation and more. Funding includes: $6 million for the Wyandanch Rising project, $5 million for sewer improvements to accompany Village of Hempstead’s revitalization, $4 million for the Ronkonkoma Hub, $3 million for a program to promote high-tech business to relocate to downtown Hicksville, $2.5 million for road improvements to facilitate the future construction of Heartland Town Square, $2.6 million to construct 36 affordable rental units in New Cassel, $1.3 million for Concern for Independent Living’s Concern Amityville project to build 61 units of affordable housing for homeless people, $885,000 to build or rehabilitate 25 affordable homes for Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk, $500,000 to revitalize over 30 buildings and make streetscape improvements in downtown Oyster Bay and $100,000 to complete the Port Jefferson Village Harborwalk project for pedestrian access to the waterfront.

The full list of awardees is available in this report, pages 83-90 for Long Island. The Governor plans to provide another $1 billion for a second competitive process in 2012. Read the Governor’s press release, with a link to the full list of projects, here.

Read the full article here...

American Communities Institute releases initial study results at second Small Business Symposium

Over 100 small businesses convene to advance recommendations on improving the economic climate for Long Island and beyond

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The American Communities Institute at Dowling College hosted its second Small Business Symposium on Monday, December 5, 2011 in Oakdale. Participants of the Symposium focused on discussing the needs of small businesses and steps necessary to improve the small business environment in the U.S., New York State, and on Long Island. The Symposium was sponsored by a grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

In his keynote speech, Congressman Steve Israel focused on the topics of helping small businesses, creating more American jobs, and extending the payroll tax break in order to stimulate the American economy. The Congressman pointed out that many items sold by souvenir shops in national parks and at national monuments are currently manufactured in China. “These items can be manufactured by small businesses here in America,” the Congressman noted. Speaking of investment in American jobs, Congressman Israel focused on the topic of infrastructure investment. Noting that China continues to heavily invest in the development of its infrastructure, the Congressman called for the increase of federal and state investments in infrastructure in order to create more American jobs and to improve our ability to move goods and people. Congressman Israel also emphasized the need for bi-partisan action to extend the payroll tax cuts in order to continue stimulating the American economy. Small businesses need more customers and the extension of the payroll tax cut would allow American workers to have more money to spend in the upcoming months.

The morning program of the symposium continued with two concurrent sessions that focused on the topics of small business policies and implementation: one on Federal and State Policies and the other on Practices and Regional and Local Policies and Practices.

Town of Islip Councilman Steve Flotteron; Bill Mannix, Town of Islip Department of Economic Development; Dr. Elana Zolfo, Dowling College & HIA-LI; Ron Roel, American Communities Institute; Walter Oden, U.S. Small Business Administration; Dr. Nathalia Rogers, Dowling College; Ronni Rosen, SUNY Stony Brook Small Business Development Center; Peter Goldsmith, LISTNET; Rich Bivone, LI Business Council; Eric Alexander, Vision Long Island; Michael Panagatos, East Meadow Chamber of Commerce

The joint working session and lunch featured the presentation of selected findings and recommendations from the Small Business Study sponsored by a grant from the Small Business Administration. The study was conducted by Dr. Nathalia Rogers, the Director of the American Communities Institute, and the ACI research team that included Dr. Susanne Bleiberg Seperson, Professor of Sociology at Dowling; Dr. Edward Gullason, Professor of Economics at Dowling; and Ron Roel, Fellow at the ACI. After the presentation, Dr. Rogers moderated a working session where conference participants discussed topics of promoting downtowns as economic hubs for small businesses, and the impact of the recent home mortgage crisis on the ability of entrepreneurs, especially minority entrepreneurs, to access capital and use it to start up new businesses.

Dan Burden leads Smithtown walking tour


Monday marked the return of nationally-recognized walkability expert Dan Burden to Long Island, and what better place for him to go but the epicenter of traffic calming debates over the last few years - downtown Smithtown.

Three pedestrians have been struck by a car and killed at the same intersection -- Main Street and Lawrence Avenue -- since 2009. Balancing the desires of the community and the plans of the DOT have been contentious, with notable changes to date including a long fence along a stretch of Main Street to separate cars and pedestrians, as well as audible crosswalks.

A full day of activities on Monday began as Burden met local DOT officials to do a preliminary walk-through and debriefing on the needs and potential for the area. Later that afternoon, a large group of elected officials, advocates, residents and press took part in a walk-through and presentation of the recommendations. Vision helped organize and participated in the full day along with AARP, Tri-State Transportation Campaign and the Greater Smithtown Chamber of Commerce.

Read the full article here...

Vision’s Elissa Ward to be honored with '40 Under 40' award


Congratulations to Vision’s Elissa Ward, who was selected to receive one of this year’s Long Island Business News “40 Under 40” Awards! A gala will take place on January 26th from 6-10pm at the Crest Hollow Country Club to honor the awardees.

Though she has worked with Vision as a consultant for many years, Elissa formally joined the Vision Long Island team in 2009 as Sustainability Director. As a LEED AP, she helps keep the organization connected to environmental issues such as green building, carbon reduction, habitat and open space preservation and water quality protection. In addition, she provides technical assistance through the review of development proposals and road projects through a Smart Growth lens. She focuses in community design, most recently helping to organize a community planning process in Hicksville to revitalize its downtown area.

The Vision team congratulates Elissa on this terrific honor!

Read the full article here...

Metro 303 project bringing new housing to Hempstead Village


Mill Creek Residential Trust, the developer who led the West Hempstead Courtesy Hotel renovation/TOD project, has unveiled a new housing project currently under construction in Hempstead. Metro 303 is located on a 1.8-acre infill parcel located at the northern end of the Village of Hempstead, bordering Garden City. The transit-oriented site is within easy walking distance to two Long Island Rail Road stations. The site is also within walking distance to two Village downtowns - Hempstead and Garden City.

The Metro 303 development will include 166 upscale apartment rental homes in one five-story podium-style building, including four residential levels over two levels of garage parking (one level on-grade and one level located below-grade). The building design will include a combination of masonry and siding facades, decorative panels and railings, large windows, balconies and gabled asphalt shingle roofs. There will also be sidewalks with new street lighting and landscaping. Developers are confident that the project will achieve LEED Silver certification.

The building will also feature approximately 4,500 square feet of amenity and administrative space, including two landscaped courtyards, resort-style swimming pool with sun-deck and clubhouse. The building will offer a choice of one-, two- and three bedroom floorplans.

Read more on Mill Creek Residential Trust’s website here.

Read the full article here...

Summer Wind Square holds groundbreaking ceremony


After clearing the site of derelict properties over the last several weeks, Summer Wind Square in Riverhead officially broke ground last week. A ceremony was held on December 8th, with county and town officials present as well as local business owners and Vision.

Summer Wind Square, a 2010 Smart Growth Award winning project for housing located on Peconic Avenue, is a 52-unit mixed use rental community that will include a 100 seat restaurant and 5,700 square feet of retail/commercial space on the first floor of the four-story complex. The project will include workforce housing, and the four-story building is expected to take 10 months to complete.

The 8,600 square-foot development was made possible, and affordable, through a $1.96 million land acquisition by Suffolk, as well as $313,000 in nearby infrastructure improvements. Of those infrastructure improvements, there will be $50,000 for a pedestrian crosswalk to Grangabel Park, across Peconic Avenue from the new apartments; $87,350 for a new walkway, driveway and renovations to the East End Arts property a short walk from Summer Wind Square; $90,000 for floating docks and a boat storage facility on the Peconic River waterfront; and $99,500 to help build an all-season ice skating rink in the municipal parking lot just east of the property.

Read the full article here...

Coventry Gardens approved in Central Islip


On December 21st, the Islip Town Board unanimously voted to approve Coventry Gardens, a 284-unit housing development in Central Islip, along with an exciting public benefits package.

Coventry Gardens, developed by Jobco, redevelops the old Central Islip Psychiatric Hospital site into 100 rental and 184 for-sale townhouse units, with buildings standing at two stories tall. The project has a unique and robust public benefits package which includes over $1 million to fund downtown improvements, parks, a new firehouse and restoring the historic firehouse into a community center. An additional fund, of $500,000 to $2 million, will support the acquisition and rehabilitation of neighboring foreclosed homes to stabilize the existing community, which would be run through the LI Housing Partnership.

During the public hearing, comments were predominately supportive, with residents running 10 in favor, 4 opposed and 2 with questions. Vision testified in support of the project, as well. Public input from the first hearing made the project better. Job well done to the Town's Planning Department, members of the Town Board, Jobco, the Central Islip Civic Council and many others for shaping this plan.

Read more in the New York Times, Newsday, and LI Business News.

Read the full article here...

Closing Words

To our Smart Growth supporters,

Without a doubt, 2011 has been the most successful year for the Smart Growth movement on Long Island. Progress has ranged from large-scale policy changes like the NYS Complete Streets law to the smallest-scale local project approvals like The “C” in Freeport. Community visioning projects have also advanced across the Island. Dozens of mixed-use projects have been designed, approved or built in the past 12 months. And local elected officials have demonstrated enormous leadership in pushing Smart Growth ideas forward.

The Smart Growth movement on Long Island is supported by a collective group of residents, business owners, environmentalists, young people and others just like yourself who are concerned with local land use patterns, downtown revitalization, infrastructure investments, safe streets and neighborhood vitality.

We hope you will consider making an end-of-year contribution to Vision Long Island, so that we can continue to work effectively for progress in communities across Long Island.

Vision Long Island is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization and relies on donations to run programs and work in communities. With your contribution, you can assist the Smart Growth movement and help put principles into practice. We are asking our friends and partners to each donate as little as $50-$100 this holiday season. It’s tax deductible and, with a large enough grassroots participation level, these donations will help our organization thrive in 2012.

Let’s keep up the good work, but acknowledge that it’s not enough. We have a long, uphill battle in front of us as we work to reverse the impacts of sprawl and create a sustainable future. Some of our biggest challenges of 2011, ranging from funding the Long Island Bus system and moving forward redevelopment at the Nassau Hub, will continue to be challenges in 2012.

With your community spirit and financial support, we continue to fight these battles and we know we can win.

Please donate today online here or email or mail in the donation form below.

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Smart Talk

Newsletter Editor: Michelle Dutchen, Communications Director
Contributors: Eric Alexander, Executive Director; Tara Klein, Policy Director; Chris Kyle, Program Coordinator;
Tawaun Weber, Assistant Director; Elissa Ward, Sustainability Director; Laura Garelle, Outreach Coordinator

We strive to provide continued quality publications such as this each week. If you have any news or events that you would like to add to our newsletter, submit them to for consideration.

If you are interested in becoming a newsletter or news blast sponsor, please call the office at 631-261-0242 for rates and opportunities.

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

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