Long Island Commemorates MLK Jr. And His Message
Monday marked Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, with communities across Long Island celebrating the humanitarian’s life.
Riverhead native and civil rights activist Rashad Robinson addressed a crowd of more than 700 at the Hyatt Regency Wind Watch Hotel in Islandia. Serving as the keynote speakers for the First Baptist Church of Riverhead’s 29th Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Breakfast, Robinson spoke frankly about incarceration and employment issues affecting minorities.
“Black women and men are being incarcerated at alarming rates as a for-profit prison industry continues to cash in,” said Robinson, executive director of ColorofChange.org. “Black unemployment remains disproportionately high.”
Congressman Tim Bishop (D-Southampton), Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, Rev. Charles A. Coverdale and Rev. Cynthia Liggon, both from the First Baptist Church, also spoke at the service.
“It is our determination to work with all of you… to build a better, stronger more unified and more equal Suffolk County,” Bellone said.
For more coverage of this event, check out the Riverhead News-Review.
Meanwhile at the Bethel A.M.E. Church in Huntington, the Huntington NAACP celebrated King and the 151st anniversary of the announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation.
The event included speeches, singing and a recital of the executive order issued by the President Abraham Lincoln to free many slaves. Rev. Roderick Pearson, president of NAACP’s Islip chapter and executive director of Youth, Women and Minority Affairs in the county’s Human Services Division, served as the keynote speaker.
Congressman Steve Israel (D-Dix Hills), State Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci (R-Huntington) and Huntington Town Council members Mark Cutherbertson, Susan Berland and Tracey Edwards were in attendance.
For more coverage of the Huntington event, check out Newsday (subscription required).
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano participated in the 29th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Awards Luncheon at the Long Island Marriott in Uniondale. Joined by Deputy County Executive Rob Walker, Deputy County Executive for Minority Affairs Rev. Phillip Elliot, Rabbi Bruce Ginsburg and community leader Arthur Katz, Mangano provided financial assistance to high school seniors seeking higher education.
“It was excellent. We had over 320 people attend,” Nassau’s Martin Luther King Committee Executive Chairman Rodney McRae said.
McRae added that the Nassau celebration extended beyond the luncheon. They began with a performance of the play “Black Wall Street” at the African-American Museum on Saturday and an interfaith service at St. Martha’s in Uniondale on Sunday.
“A lot of people think he was just for African American people. Our thing is building bridges,” the chairman said. “Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for everyone.”
No Verdict Yet On Westbury Hotel/Apartment Complex
An unusual mix of apartments and hotel rooms could still be in the cards for Westbury.
Not only does the proposed development include a restaurant and fitness center on the property, but plans also call on Beechwood to donate 4 acres to the Town of Hempstead for parkland and a soccer field.
The Hempstead Town Board reserved judgment on the proposed Portofino project during a hearing Tuesday morning. Developer Beechwood Organization needs to secure a zoning change for the 195-unit apartment and hotel complex.
“There was no opposition to the proposal. The town is keeping the public comment period open for two more weeks,” Beechwood President Michael Dubb said. “I’m very hopeful.”
A town official confirmed both that a change from industrial to residential is required and that the board did not make a decision.
Once home to racehorses as the Roosevelt Raceway at Westbury, the 5.5 acres in question could become a six-floor hotel and apartment building. Plans call for 68 one- and two-bedroom suites along with 71 one-bedroom apartments and 56 two-bedroom apartments. Dubb said the apartments would measure 800-1,700 square feet while the hotel suites measure about 500 square feet.
“This is a piece of land that would have been used for warehouses, office complex or a store. There seems to be a shortage of rental housing on Long Island. Hopefully this helps,” he added.
Vision Long Island Executive Director Eric Alexander confirmed there is a market for hotels and rental housing on the island.
“We see hotels being built and rentals houses being financed. To combine the two is interesting. We haven’t seen that,” Alexander said.
Dubb said the concept is to provide apartment tenants with the same neighborhood amenities as hotel guests. That includes restaurants, movie theaters, banks and supermarkets nearby. The local bus station is a short 5-minute walk, prompting residents to use more public transportation.
“It will have hotel rooms and it will have apartments, many more apartments than hotel rooms,” he said.
The president said the latter had been requested by the town, which he was happy to oblige with the shortage of soccer fields available to the community. The Hempstead spokesman said the Portofino proposal moves existing park space to a more suitable area nearby.
Meanwhile, he added that no action can happen until the Town Board issues a decision. There are no restrictions or time limits for that to happen. If they do support the project, the developer would then seek site plan approval and building permits.
For more coverage of this story, check out Newsday (subscription required).
Cuomo’s Budget Maintains Transportation, Adds To Business
Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled a $137.2 billion proposed budget Tuesday, a $1.8 billion, or 1.3 percent, increase over the current fiscal plan.
If approved, he claims New York would pocket a $500 million surplus in 2014-2015 and allow surpluses to grow to $2 billion in three years. Opponents have challenged this, claiming it will create budget gaps down the road.
“What we’re trying to do is provide the people of the state of New York a government that performs efficiently and effectively for them, forges community, and lowers taxes to provide relief and restore economic opportunity,” Cuomo said.
The budget, which covers the fiscal year beginning April 1, incorporates billions for transportation, economic development and environmental expenses.
Cuomo’s proposal funds the second year of the NYS Department of Transportation’s $3.4 billion capital improvement program for all modes of transportation infrastructure. That also includes $225 million for New York Works – a coalition of finance, labor, planning and transportation experts – to accelerate projects, provide engineering and improve transit facilities.
The MTA would receive $4.3 billion, an $85 million increase from the current budget. Of that bump, $40 million would come from “surplus” mass transit funds to pay off debt incurred by the state on behalf of the MTA. The minor increase is better than a cut, MTA Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee boss William Henderson said, but it also doesn’t change much.
“It’s pretty much a steady state. There’s a little bit more funding in there. It’s not things we didn’t already not know,” Henderson said, adding that 2015 could be more moving with the agency’s $12 billion capital plan ending this year.
If approved, the budget would preserve local capital aid for highway and bridge projects at current level with $438.1 million for the Consolidated Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) and $39.7 million for the Marchiselli program. These programs are key sources of funding for repaving and other smaller projects.
The budget, however, does not incorporate the annual $20 million spending for pedestrian and bicycle capital projects requested by Tri-State Transportation Campaign.
On the business side, the governor’s proposal would maintain the 10 regional economic development councils. More than $2.2 billion has been awarded since they were created in 2011, and the plan calls for $500 million more in a fourth round of competition.
It also allocates $110 million for another round of challenge grants from the NYSUNY 2020 plan, created to provide funds to universities that use technology that improves students’ education and job opportunities. NYSUNY 2020 would also link with the existing START-UP NY program that creates tax-free havens for new businesses on SUNY campuses.
If approved, Cuomo would spend $50 million from the New York Power Authority to continue enhanced marketing for doing business and investing in New York State. He also called for a second round of $5 million for regional tourism marketing campaigns.
The state Superfund program would be extended for a year in the proposed fiscal plan. It would also continue the Brownfields Cleanup Program for 10 years and limit remediation tax credits only to the actual cleanup, while redevelopment credits would be available only to sites that have been vacant for more than a decade, worth less than the cleanup credits or are priority economic development projects.
Environmental spending would include a $3 million, or 2.7 percent, bump to $122 million for the Department of Agriculture and Markets; $135 million for another round of New York Works funding to address a backlog of environmental capital needs and spur economic development; and $1.1 million to market the state’s food and beverage industry through the Taste NY program.
Cuomo’s plan also hacks 4.7 percent, $43 million, from the Department of Environmental Conservation’s budget. He referenced completion of projects from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the 1996 Bond Act, as well as transferal of IT staff to the Office of Information Technology Services.
According to environmental nonprofit The Nature Conservancy, the proposal does create a slight increase for the Environmental Protection Fund. That would bump Open Space Program lines $2.5 million to $85 million, Parks and Recreation Programs $100,000 to $58 million and Solid Waste Program expenses to $350,000 to $14 million. That includes $2 million for new Suffolk Water Quality expenses under the Water Quality Improvement Program.
For more coverage of the proposed budget, check out Newsday (subscription required) or the governor’s website.
NYC's Vision Zero Seeks To Reduce Traffic Deaths
The goal may be to eliminate traffic deaths in New York City, but experts believe the tools may already be on Long Island.
But Ryan Lynch, associate director for Tri-State Transportation Campaign, believes the existing Complete Streets policy could also make Long Island roads safer.
Newly-elected Mayor Bill de Blasio recently unveiled Vision Zero – originating from Sweden, his plan to reduce all traffic-related deaths in New York City within 10 years.It’s a collaboration between the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT), Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, NYPD and Taxi & Limousine Commission.
“This will be a top-to-bottom effort to take on dangerous streets and dangerous driving. We aren’t going to wait and lose a son, a daughter, a parent or a grandparent in another senseless and painful tragedy,” de Blasio said
“Complete Streets is an idea and a concept. Vision Zero is goal-setting and a philosophy,” Lynch said.
In New York City, de Blasio’s plan calls for at least 50 dangerous corridors and intersections to be renovated every year. That includes installing dedicated bicycle lanes, widening sidewalks and narrowing excessively-wide streets.
“If a road feels like a highway, people in cars will drive fast, no matter the speed limit,” the mayor said in a policy paper.
Vision Zero also calls for creation of 20 MPH “Slow Zones” through residential neighborhoods. According to city officials, a pedestrian hit by a car driving 40 MPH has an 85 percent chance of dying compared to 45 percent at 30 MPH and just 5 percent at 20 MPH. The DOT recently created 13 slow zones after receiving more than 100 applications, although they expect to have 52 within four years.
As part of his strategy, the mayor is looking for more speed and red light cameras and for Albany to give up restrictions over them.
NYPD officers will also play a larger role in de Blasio’s plan. Not only are there 270 Highway Division officers now giving out tickets, a 50 percent increase, but the idea is to ticket more speeders. The NYPD issued 81,126 tickets for tinted windows in 2012, according to the policy paper, compared to 19,119 for speeding. A study by Transportation Alternatives found 88 percent of Brooklyn drivers speed and another study found 80 percent of drivers along 23rd Avenue in Queens speed.
“Speeding and reckless driving on many New York City roads is wide-spread, making the roads more dangerous for law-abiding drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians alike,” he said in the paper.
New York City officials said a resident is killed via car crash every 30 hours or suffers traffic injury resulting in dismemberment or disfigurement every 2 hours. Traffic incident also take more lives than homicide in the city, 239 murders to 291 in vehicular accidents back in 2012.
Long Island traffic fatality figures were unavailable by Friday, but the state Department of Criminal Justice reported 51 murders in Nassau and Suffolk Counties combined.
Vision Zero, Lynch said, represents a shift in mentality that traffic violence is preventable through street design, enforcement and education. And while he said Long Island and New York City are not the same, he also said it could be implemented in Nassau and Suffolk.
“I think it makes sense on Long Island for a lot of areas that are trying to reinvent their downtowns, especially the 20 MPH zones,” the associate director said.
He added that speeding and reckless driving are as much a problem on the island as they are in the city. Lynch suggested a pilot program like the one leading to 20 speed cameras around New York City could catch Long Island offenders.
“There’s too much speeding occurring for police to take care of.”
For more about de Blasio’s Vision Zero, check out StreetsBlog and the Daily News.
Big Business Is Saying ‘Hello Cities, Adios Suburbs’
After decades of flocking to suburbia, corporate America is moving back into cities.
A Wall Street Journal business story examines why big business like United Continental, Motorola, Hillshire Brands and Pinterest have eschewed vast suburban campuses.
Whereas cheap real estate, tax breaks and car parking once led business into suburban neighborhoods, urban environments offer corporations public transit, urban amenities and a stronger sense of community. These are the same values many young, educated employees want, with much of the talent pool already calling the city home.
In 2010, more than 43 percent of Americans with bachelor’s degrees lived in 20 metropolitan areas, including tech hubs like Seattle, San Francisco and Raleigh, N.C. Younger graduates are also marrying and starting their own families later than previous generations – frequently with both spouses working – and ultimately delaying their moves to the suburbs.
Hillshire ditched its suburban headquarters in 2012 for Chicago as part of a reorganization strategy. Corporate officials said they’re finding “the type of employees we wanted – externally focused and agile” with a “refuse to lose attitude.”
While some corporate employees are reluctant to sell their house, give up a school district or rely on a train schedule, experts say its unlikely energy prices and traffic conditions will lead businesses back to the suburbs any time soon.
Nationwide, commercial vacancy rates in central business districts have gone down faster than those in suburbs since the real-estate market began to recover in 2011. Just 13.9 percent of urban space was empty in the third quarter of 2013 compared to 18.5 percent in the suburbs. At the end of 2010, the figures were 14.8 percent and 19.1 percent, respectively.
Almost 200 Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in the top 50 cities. And some who choose to stay in suburbia are opening satellite offices in neighboring cities. Motorola moved 35 miles from an Illinois suburb to Chicago, while Pinterest left Silicon Valley for San Francisco.
Even companies staying put understand what a city can offer. Silicon Valley-based Yahoo expanded their San Francisco offices to attract more engineers, and Atlanta-based Coca-Cola relocated suburban tech departments into a new 2,000-person IT office near their headquarters.
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 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.
PBS Poverty Coverage Shifted Last Minute, Watch It Here
The PBS Weekend Newshour story on Suffolk poverty that we alerted you to on Jan. 10 was moved at the last minute from Sunday, Jan. 12 to Saturday, Jan. 11. In the likely case that you missed it, here is the link to the story that features one of our advocacy success - Sunday bus service in Suffolk County.
The nonprofit broadcast network
examined Suffolk County and contemporary American poverty.
Commemorating the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson’s war on poverty, the show tapped the Suffolk County Legislature’s 2012 Welfare to Work Commission’s report “Struggling in Suburbia: Meeting the Challenges of Poverty in Suffolk County.” The report was drafted by Dr. Richard Koubek, Commission chair and Vision Long Island Board member.
PBS examined how poverty is pervasive but largely hidden in Suffolk County, causing unique hardships for suburbanites struggling to make ends meet. The storyl also assessed the difficulty enacting pubic policies while profiling two success stories that grew out of the Welfare to Work Commission’s recommendations: Sunday bus service and additional state funding for child care. Sunday bus service was achieved through advocacy by the Commission, LI Jobs with Justice, Vision Long Island and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.