Protestors Call For Transit-Oriented Development In Baldwin
A Baldwin neighborhood deemed blighted has a reputation for questionable characters and vacant, run-down buildings. And neighbors aren’t happy with plans to revive the area.
Nassau County Legislator Kevan Abrahams (D-Baldwin) and Legislator Laura Curran (D-Baldwin) joined about 100 residents, business owners and community leaders took to Grand Avenue on Saturday, protesting against Breslin Realty Development Corporation’s plans to build a drive-through CVS pharmacy on the 5-acre property.
“We’ve been trying to get it developed for at least 15 years,” Baldwin Civic Association President David Viana said.
Currently, the area near Grand Avenue and Merrick Road consists of ground-level retail with 52 second-story apartments. A fire destroyed two buildings, which remain boarded up. The Town of Hempstead gave the neighborhood a blight designation in 2006, which prompted landlords to stop maintaining buildings and chased away others.
“Things look bad. Businesses don’t want to move in because they think things are going to get knocked down,” Viana said.
The Town of Hempstead is negotiating with Breslin for the redevelopment project, which now features a drive-through CVS. Using just a single acre, the pharmacy would be the fifth branch in Baldwin alone.
“We’re hoping they’re listening to the community. What the community wants is a thriving downtown,” Curran said.
Also abandoned was a Smart Growth plan about six years ago that seemed to be moving forward. Developer Albanese Organization wanted to build a mix of retail and housing less than a mile from the Baldwin LIRR station. But the deal fell through, Viana said.
“It’s so frustrating it didn’t work out,” Curran said.
Demonstrators were hopeful for a new plan that would revitalize the neighborhood as Baldwin’s main business district, a mix of housing and eclectic small businesses.
“We want to learn from the communities [Rockville Centre and Freeport’s Nautical Mile] near us, but also Patchogue. We really want to get that Main Street feel back for Baldwin,” Viana said.
Vision’s Executive Director Eric Alexander was also on hand for Saturday’s protest.
“Customers want to be in downtowns. Young people and aging baby boomers, a whole range of people, want to shop in downtowns and people want to live in downtowns,” Alexander said.
For more coverage of this issue, check out Newsday (subscription required), CBS and FiOS 1. Newsday also published this editorial about the neighborhood.
Cuomo Drives $67 Million Towards NYS Transportation Projects
$30 million. That’s how much municipalities across New York anticipated would be available in state transportation funding when they applied last summer.
But on Wednesday, Cuomo surprised everyone by awarding $67 million from the Transportation Enhancement Program (TEP).
“We applaud Governor Cuomo for heeding the call of New Yorkers to increase funding for pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure with a 50 percent increase in TEP funds. This additional funding can be used by towns and municipalities to meet the soaring demand for safe, walkable, bikable, economically vibrant streets. It’s a significant step forward in the spirit of the state’s Complete Streets law,” Tri-State Transportation Campaign (TSTC) Executive Director Veronica Vanterpool said.
The governor awarded $67 million for 63 projects across the state. Long Island took home $5.1 million – compared to $14.8 million for New York City and $3.3 million for the Southern Tier.
“With this funding, we are moving forward with 63 projects across the state that will make our transportation system safer and more modern,” Cuomo said. “From building new facilities for bicycles and pedestrians to supporting historic highway programs, these projects will provide new tourism and recreational opportunities for New Yorkers and visitors, boosting our ongoing tourism and economic development efforts and improving the quality of life in our communities.”
That includes $1.65 million for Sunrise Highway Streetscape Program in the Village of Freeport; $1.61 million for Bay Shore Corridor Project in Bay Shore; $1 million for downtown main street sidewalk and road improvements in Port Jefferson; and $838,000 for Shorewood Drive/Welwyn Road pedestrian and bicyclist enhancements in Great Neck Plaza.
"An increasing number of Long Islanders are walking in our downtowns and commercial corridors. Traffic-calming projects are needed to enhance pedestrian safety. We are pleased to see the state step forward and fund what will address an increasing need," Vision Long Island Executive Director Eric Alexander said.
Funding pedestrian and bicycle projects are not only beneficial for recreational and economic – pedestrians are more likely to stop in downtown stores, but TSTC Albany Legislative Advocate Nadine Lemmon said it improves appalling safety numbers. Half of all fatalities on a road in New York State within Long Island, New York City and the lower Hudson Valley are bicyclists and pedestrians. The 27 percent figure for across the entire state is the worst in the country.
At the same time, she added, there’s been a high demand and low supply of transportation funds. Not only have the TEP funds not been awarded on a regular basis, but this was the last round. Another version, the Transportation Alternatives Plan, is expected to assume a similar role. In addition, the federal government cut 30 percent of transportation expenses from their MAP-21 highway plan.
“New York State only spends a couple pennies on the dollar for these kinds of improvement, which is why we’ve been pushing for more money to go towards these projects,” Lemmon said. “There’s a huge backlog because this has been underfunded for years. There’s also a growing demand. More and more people are tired of sitting in their cars.”
Advocates are asking Cuomo to dedicate a line in every state budget for pedestrians and bicyclists, to the tune of $20 million.
Schumer Joins Campaign For Ocean Outflow Pipe At Bay Park Plant
Federal officials joined the fight in Nassau County to secure funding for an outflow pipe at the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant.
Senator Chuck Schumer announced Tuesday that he was seeking $600 million in federal money for the wastewater plant that was battered and bruised by Superstorm Sandy. He also met with Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator W. Craig Fugate.
“We watched in horror while an environmental disaster unfolded in the wake of Sandy, with sewage from the crippled Bay Park plant flowing back into homes and local waterways,” Schumer said. “This outflow pipe, which Nassau has been seeking for decades, would prevent another environmental disaster from unfolding, and is the perfect use of mitigation money that Congress secured in the Sandy Relief bill early last year.”
The Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant serves half a million Nassau County residents and processes about 50 million gallons of sewage daily. Sandy crippled the plant last year with nine feet of saltwater flooding, knocking it completely out of service for two days. Millions of untreated and partially-treated sewage flowed through the plant and into local waters before emergency repairs were made.
Temporary measures kept the plant up and running again for months after Sandy. Emergency generators power the plant at $1 million every month, generating noise and odor complaints from neighbors.
Mangano proposed a $722-million plan last summer to repair, rebuild and harden both Bay Park and Cedar Creek. The Legislature, however, voted only to authorize spending $262 million, which did not include replacing the corroded electrical system at Bay Park. The Nassau County Legislature unanimously approved a $463 million loan with no interest from the State Environmental Facilities Corporation in December to fulfill that plan.
Governor Andrew Cuomo allocated $455 million in Federal Community Development Block Grants towards Bay Park repairs and improvements in October.
However, none of these funds went towards an outflow pipe. Such a pipe would dump effluent – treated sewage – into the Atlantic Ocean instead of Reynolds Channel. Not only do officials say it would have prevented 2.2 billion gallons of partially-treated wastewater from being dumped into the channel, but environmentalists say high nitrogen levels in nearby waters have been caused by Bay Park over the years.
“This project may be the single most important thing we can do to protect homeowners and the environment,” Mangano said. “It is a prime candidate for the money Senator Schumer fought so hard for in the relief bill, and we deeply appreciate that he is leading the charge in getting the county funds we need so badly. We all remember the sewage crisis we had in the wake of Sandy and we need to avoid that again at all costs.”
For more coverage, check out Newsday (subscription required).
When Is A Parking Garage More Than Just A Parking Garage?
With soccer fields, housing and even a hotel as part of the submissions, the Rauch Foundation unveiled four creative parking designs at Adelphi University on Thursday.
The plans were part of their Build a Better Burb: ParkingPLUS Design Challenge with four architectural firms from around the country designing a plan that handles parking needs and making them an architectural attraction for the community.
All four participants focused on a LIRR station in a specific community. NYC/LA-based dub Studios was tasked with Patchogue, Utile Design from Boston was paired with Rockville Centre, LA-based Sherman Architecture and Design took on Ronkonkoma, and LTL Architects from NYC were given Westbury.
In Patchogue, the dub Studios team said the problem is efficiency; many of the existing lots never crack 90 percent capacity. Their solution to create a new parking deck addressed three goals: it facilitates shared parking between municipal lots and other parking; help motorists find parking with an automated metering and way-finding system; create an identity for each lot. Their proposal would add 280 new spaces, but also route motorists to empty existing spaces. They argued that it would save the village $2.7 million in new garage construction and reduce more than 150,000 miles annually from motorists looking for parking.
Utile Design tackled Rockville Centre by creating one prototype for a parking garage that can be adapted to the situation at three different sites. The structure would stand at most four stories tall, with tall-arched spaces at ground level to be used for public events on weekends and parking on weekdays. The plan also includes a plaza, housing, tennis courts, retail space and even a police station. In addition to adding 416-785 new parking spaces, Utile Design claimed it would bring in an additional $2 million in taxes.
The “ParksandRides” proposal by Sherman for Ronkonkoma was easily the most adventurous. They designed a structure that when viewed from a plane over neighboring MacArthur Airport is the shape of the Empire State Building. Standing several stories tall, the structure would alternate levels between parking and other uses like mini-golf, a hockey rink and driving range, soccer fields, restaurants, housing, a hotel and office space. The architects claim it would create 906,000 square feet of leasable area and generate $7.5 million annually in new commercial taxes.
In Westbury, LTL Architects designed parking that integrates with the rest of the village. They proposed a multi-story parking structure north of the tracks with mixed uses like multi-family housing, commercial and parking. It connects to a smaller structure south of the tracks, which includes start-up office and fabrication space, a sheltered bus hub, bicycle parking, electric car-charging station and more parking. If constructed, the design would add 803 new parking spaces to the existing 636. LTL also argued it would collect another $1.5 million annually in taxes and draw young professionals.
For more coverage of this competition, visit Newday (subscription required).
Blighted Homes See New Future As Affordable Housing For Veterans
Once rundown properties, future veteran housing in Huntington Station is closer to reality.
The Town of Huntington last week approved a zoning change that will allow for 14 units of affordable housing for veterans on a one-acre site.
“Obviously it’s very important for the returning vets. They need something to start their careers with, their families. They have to get back to their lives. A community they can afford is so important,” Veterans’ Advisory Board Chairman Mario Buonpane said.
The Town of Huntington teamed up with Suffolk County back in April 2010 to purchase three dilapidated houses along Lowndes Avenue for $778,000. Six months later, the buildings were gone.
Meanwhile, town officials applied for a state grant to create the housing. They were approved for up to $1.5 million, $100,000 per unit. Initial plans called for eight owner-occupied units each with an accessory apartment. But when the state ruled that earned them just $800,000, the Town of Huntington changed the plan to 14 individual apartments – split between one- and two-bedroom.
On Jan. 7, the Town Board changed the property’s zoning from R-5 residence to C-1 office-residence. A town source said the next step is to complete the design and find a contractor. They hope to break ground in the next few months and finish construction before the end of the year. No list of applicants has been started yet.
“The idea is that you have to start improvements in any area. If we can start a little bright spot in an otherwise tired community, it might inspire others to upgrade their possessions. It can’t hurt and the affordability is the main thing,” Buonpane said.
Storm Prep, Jobs Center Of LI Rendition Of Cuomo’s State Of State
Vision Long Island and Long Island Business Council hosted Ken Adams, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Economic Development Thursday at Dowling College, where he presented the Governor's State of the State address.
Adams focused on the main points of this year's speech, mostly on ways to drive economic development. Among the topics were improving and investing in education, public health and safety in local communities, emergency preparedness, continuing job growth strategies, reducing property taxes and fixing dysfunction in Albany to regain public trust.
Adams highlighted the most important and relevant aspects of Governor Andrew Cuomo's speech to fit Long Island’s local and regional issues. The commissioner briefly discussed the launch of fourth round of the Regional Economic Development Council awards, which will specifically focus on creating jobs and attracting international investment, citing Long Island as the top performer in previous years. He also talked about the new tourism push, “Get Outta Town,” to get people to visit outside of the city. For the Long Island region, it would mean focusing on the successful food and wine industry which is continually growing. He also mentioned the governor's Start Up NY program, which would create tax free zones and incentives for certain school programs, especially in math and science fields.
During a subsequent Q&A session, audience members questioned the commissioner about Long Island receiving it's share of tax dollars, future storm preparation and rebuilding efforts, housing issues and infrastructure, mainly sewer upgrades and other water protection infrastructure. He said many of the issues surrounding further development in certain areas post-Sandy are due to the lack of water infrastructure.
“Since it's a statewide challenge there is more focus on it...everyone just has to keep making noise,” Adams said.
He also thanked Vision Long Island for their lobbying efforts in Albany and Scott Martella for coordinating the presentation. “The governor laid out a bold vision for Economic Development in 2014....it is important to deliver the message at local levels, get feedback, and build support.”
The governor will present his budget next Tuesday, with a goal to have it enacted by March 31. For a full transcript of Cuomo's speech, visit his website.
Census Data Reveals How Many Are Walking To Work
Maybe it’s bank accounts too burdened by loans to afford cars or perhaps it’s the liberal culture that frequents post-secondary education, but for whatever reason, traditional college towns have the most walking commuters.
Governing magazine examined data from the 2012 U.S. Census, revealing cities home to popular schools like Ann Arbor, Mich., Columbia, S.C., and Boston, Mass. are among the top 10 in people commuting by foot in cities with at least 100,000 residents.
Another college town, Cambridge, Mass., had the most walking commuters. Compared to the 34.5 percent who drove, 24.5 percent walked to work and another 24.5 percent took mass transit. Columbia is the second highest at 20.7 percent walking, although 71.6 percent used cars.
Governing’s research found pockets of the west coast with higher shares of walking commuters, but most of the cities that embrace walking are east of the Mississippi River. That includes Pittsburgh, Penn. with 10.9 percent walkers, New York City and Providence, R.I. each with 10.2 percent and Madison, Wisc. with 8.9 percent.
Meanwhile, a study of the country’s 150 most populated cities found Fayetteville, N.C. saw the largest increase in commuting by foot. Compared to 1.7 percent in 2007, 5.4 percent walked to work in 2012. Boston already had 13.3 percent commuting by foot in 2007, but that increased to 15.5 percent five years later. Atlanta, Ga., known for congested highways, climbed from 3.8 percent to 5.9 percent.
Across the country as a whole, just 2.8 percent Americans walked to work, roughly unchanged from years prior. Governing sources, however, say that doesn’t paint an accurate picture.
“Walking is growing at a really phenomenal rate,” said Dan Burden, co-founder of the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute. “It may not be reflected in the commuting data until we see more people living in work centers.”
Vision Long Island helped convene Long Island's first Complete Streets summit, a program which calls for roads to be designed for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists. The Nassau County Legislature passed new Complete Streets guidelines in August, while the City of Long Beach pass their legislation in July. Vision was also a participant in the Complete Streets Summit at Molloy College in April.
For more coverage, check out Governing’s website.
Infrastructure Funding Incorporated Into $1.1 Trillion Budget
Congress unveiled a proposed $1.1 trillion budget Tuesday on the auspices of compromise.
With the embarrassment of the government shutdown last fall still lingering and continued partisan opposition to programs like Obamacare and military spending, both Republican and Democrat legislators voiced tentative support.
“Not everyone will like everything in this bill, but in this divided government a critical bill such as this simply cannot reflect the wants of only one party,” lawmakers said in a joint statement. “We believe this is a good, workable measure.”
The negotiated deal keeps the USPS delivering six days, requires the NSA to turn over data about phone record collection, includes a temporary reprieve to homeowners and business facing higher flood insurance premiums, and does not block the president’s health care reform.
It also includes $600 million for a fourth round of TIGER grants. Known formally as Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grants, the TIGER program pumps federal money into projects that have a significant impact on the country, region or metropolitan area. Thirty-seven states received $474 million last year, although Long Island has never received funding for any projects.
The proposed spending plan also contains increase in the New Starts program, the federal government’s primary financial resource for local transportation investments. That includes capital improvements on train lines and bus rapid transit (BRT) systems. BRT has been discussed for both the Nassau Hub and Route 110.
The budget allows for the potential of wastewater treatment funds for Long Island and other regions. Congressional officials and many organizations will be working to bring these resources home.
The House of Representatives approved the deal on Wednesday, with the Senate following suite yesterday. President Barack Obama must sign the budget before midnight Saturday, when temporary funding expires.
For more coverage of the budget, check out Politico.
Obama: Promise Zones Inspire Communities To Revive Themselves
Trimming red tape is the new plan to help struggling federal cities and communities across America.
President Barack Obama announced the first round of his Promise Zones last week. First unveiled in his 2013 State of the Union address, this plan is designed to support children and fight poverty in economically-challenged areas.
“A child’s course in life should be determined not by the zip code she’s born in, but by the strength of her work ethic and scope of her dreams,” President Obama said.
Promise Zones are communities that will set specific goals, and receive access to federal resources and full-time AmeriCorps staff to achieve them. Various levels of government are to work with nonprofits, parents, businesses along the way, designing unique solutions for each Zone.
The first five Promise Zones are San Antonio, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, southeastern Kentucky and Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. The president expects unveil all 20 within the next three years.
“Each of these communities is designing from the bottom up, not the top down, what it is they think they need and we’re working with them to make it happen,” he said. “And each of these communities is willing to do what it takes to change the odds for their kids.”
The president also called on Congress to cut taxes on hiring and investing in Promise Zones, claiming that former President Bill Clinton’s Empowerment Zone tax credits attracted businesses and created jobs.
For more coverage of these Promise Zones, check out the New York Times, Christian Science Monitor and the White House website.
The deadline to nominate a project or individual for
the 2014 Smart Growth Awards is Friday, Feb. 28!
Now we want to hear from you on who best exemplifies these principles!
In order to nominate, please submit the following information to us (please include relevant reports, images, plans, renderings, news articles and other supportive materials):
Entry Name(s)/ Affiliation
Contact Name/ Phone
Address Town/ State/ Zip
Phone/ Fax/ Email
Brief Description of Nomination (attach detail)
Submit this form and relevant materials to:
Vision Long Island
24 Woodbine Ave.
Northport, NY 11768
You can also contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or submit by fax to 631-754-4452
Do not send original materials as we cannot guarantee their safe return!
Fair Media Council Accepting Submissions For Annual Folio Awards
There will be no shortage of big wigs at Fair Media Council's Folio Awards in April, but applications arguing who best informed the public with news and social media are being accepted now.
The Folio Awards
are divided between news and social media. Members of the media can submit stories covering Long Island for the former, while businesses and nonprofits are invited to show how they used social media to benefit the public.
Entries can include social media websites, blogs, websites or any other channel. All social media entries must provide some news or information
to the public, and include a 200-word summary of why the strategy deserves and award.
Submissions for both will be accepted until 5 p.m. Jan. 31.
For more about the contest and applications, visit Fair Media Council online.