Long Island Has 7 of Downstate's 10 Most Deadly Roadways
Jericho Turnpike has supplanted Hempstead Turnpike as the most dangerous thoroughfare in downstate New York.
Fact sheets and maps are available on Tri-State’s website. For media coverage of this report, check out Newsday (subscription required) and News 12 (subscription required). Information and signups for the Complete Street Summit are available here.
The Tri-State Transportation Campaign (TSTC) released their annual dangerous roads for pedestrians report, which revealed more pedestrians were killed on Route 25 in Suffolk County than Route 24 in Nassau County. According to their study, 16 died on Jericho from 2010-2012, half along an 11.5-mile stretch from Centereach to Ridge. Twelve were killed on Route 24.
The New York State DOT began improvements along six miles of Jericho Turnpike in Nassau County back in 2012. That included new turning lanes, improved turning radii at street corners, pavement markings, raised center medians, sidewalks, crosswalks and aesthetic landscaping.
“We applaud NYSDOT’s work on Jericho Turnpike in Nassau County, but we urge the state and we hope that the state to extend similar safety improvements into Suffolk County, where they are desperately needed,” TSTC Associate Director Ryan Lynch said.
Since Tri-State began their annual analysis in 2008, Jericho Turnpike has consistently sat among the most dangerous roads. But after being tied for second, it clinched the dubious title this go-around. US-130 in New Jersey jumped up to tie Hempstead Turnpike for second this year.
Route 110 in Suffolk County tied with three other thoroughfares for fourth most deadly with nine fatalities between 2010-2012. Sunrise Highway in Suffolk was one of the others, while Sunrise in Nassau is No. 8 with 8 pedestrian deaths. Merrick Road in Nassau County and Route 27A in Suffolk County each had seven fatalities to tie for No. 10.
In total, the report states 683 pedestrians were killed on roads on Long Island and New York City from 2010-2012. Two hundred twenty-nine died in 2012 alone, slightly more than the 226 in 2011 and 228 in 2010.
Arterial roadways are often the largest killer, according to TSTC. These multi-lane roads often have speed limits in excess of 40 MPH with little room for bicyclists and pedestrians. About 15 percent of miles in the Tri-State area are arterials, and nearly 60 percent of pedestrian fatalities occur here. In downstate New York, nearly half of pedestrian deaths happen on arterials.
“Pedestrian fatalities are tragic but they can be prevented,” Campaign Staff Analyst Renata Silberblatt said. “Passing complete streets policies, laws and plans is the first step to ensure that roads are designed and redesigned with all users of the road – pedestrian, transit riders, bicyclists and motorists of all ages and abilities – in mind.”
They emphasized the need to redesign transportation systems in the area. Protected bike lanes, wider sidewalks and pedestrian safety islands would make a difference they said, as would a program like New York City’s Vision Zero that ups traffic enforcement, lowers speed limits through residential neighborhoods and employs more cameras.
Specifically, Tri-State called for Long Island Safe Route to Transit program that would target stations and stops for pedestrian improvement; increase funding for pedestrian and bicycle projects in the governor’s budget and state’s capital program; allow local leaders to change speed limits as needed; adding bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure to the state’s Preservation First repair policy; standardizing the reporting of fatalities; and adopting Complete Streets policies.
Eric Alexander, executive director of Vision Long Island, said the report is a reminder that Long Island’s roadways are dangerous to bicyclists and pedestrians. The nonprofit has been a staunch advocate for Complete Streets.
“The recommendations contained herein will serve to reverse what has become a descending spiral of poor safety measures in the design of our regions streets,” Alexander said. “Vision Long Island and other organizations will be asking our public officials to address these findings at our second annual Complete Streets Summit on Thursday, April 3.”
Nassau Unveils Update For Long-Term Sewage Plant Work
More than a billion dollars in capital improvements at the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant are underway or expected to this year.
Nassau County late last month released the December 2013 update for their Wastewater Treatment Facilities Restoration Program. Dozens of ongoing and anticipated projects are included, most benefiting the East Rockaway plant.
The Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant serves half a million Nassau County residents and processes about 50 million gallons of sewage daily. Superstorm 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 Sewage Treatment Plant. The Legislature, however, voted only to authorize spending $262 million, not including a replacement for Bay Park’s corroded electrical system. Legislators 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.
The status update for last month covers nearly $1 billion in renovations specifically related to Sandy, plus another $180 million in improvements.
Among the $603 million set aside for 18 Wastewater Storm Facilities Restoration projects, Nassau County is in the process of installing flood walls around critical infrastructure, installing a new fire protection pump station at a higher elevation and replacing electrical substations. Some of the projects have begun construction or entered the bid process, but many are not expected to finish planning and conceptual design until this summer.
The county also set aside $455 million for Superstorm Sandy Repair and Mitigation; five Bay Park projects command $350 million alone. That includes $202 million to replace electrical distribution substations, with construction expected to begin April 2014. Repairs to the sludge dewatering facility will run $65 million, with planning and conceptual design due by this month and construction to begin in March 2015.
A number of other projects are also included in the long-term program, including several projects addressing issues at Bay Park before Sandy bombarded the plant. Installation of new odor control biofilter systems at both Bay Park and Cedar Creek for $35.9 million could start this October, while installation of a storage and polymer feeding system for sludge thickening began in October. The $17.3 million project is a 24-month contract that was awarded in September.
Long Beach Hospital Deal Hinges On $100 Mil From FEMA
Long Beach and Island Park residents have been without a medical facility for months following Superstorm Sandy, and they could be out longer if federal officials can’t hash out a deal.
Senator Chuck Schumer (D) called on FEMA to transfer $100 million in Sandy aid from Long Beach Medical Center (LBMC). South Nassau Communities Hospital (SNCH) has been in negotiations to purchase the defunct hospital, but is currently not eligible to receive the aid.
“Up to 100 million dollars and the health of the Long Beach community is hanging in the balance here,” Schumer said. “A positive ruling from FEMA will allow Sandy aid to flow to the medical center in the way congress intended, which can clear the way for new not-for-profit ownership that will re-establish sorely needed medical operations at the facility.”
The Long Beach Medical Center (LBMC) closed after Superstorm Sandy inundated the 162-bed hospital and caused $56 million in damage last October. All necessary construction to reopen was reportedly finished last summer, but LBMC has not received permission from the state Department of Health to reopen. Commissioner Nirav Shah has said he won’t approve reopening the hospital, which annually lost $2 million since 2007, without a sustainable health care business model.
SNCH has been in negotiations to acquire the facility. They received a $6.6 million federal grant last fall to open the shuttered hospital as an urgent care facility. That included ambulatory triage, radiology and a dozen exam rooms. 911 calls, however, would have been routed to other hospitals like Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow, St. John’s Episcopal in East Rockaway and SNCH.
Plans now call for a free-standing, around-the-clock emergency department as well as the urgent care clinic. That includes a freestanding emergency department, ambulatory surgery facility, urgent care, primary care, imaging center and other outpatient units.
But in a letter to FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate, Schumer said a positive Advisory Opinion from the emergency aid agency would legally allow SNCH to accept the $100 million and reopen the medical center.
“We are so close to bringing critical healthcare services back to thousands of people in Long Beach and South Nassau who have been without it since Hurricane Sandy,” Schumer said. “We need to make sure we are making the funds that LBMC is owed available to the next not-for-profit owner.”
No deal can go through, the senator added, until financial terms of a proposed merger are more clear.
FEMA officials have publicly said they will wait until a proposal to acquire LBMC is submitted, only then judging if the relief funds can be transferred.
For more on this story, check out Newsday (subscription required).
SCCC To County Exec Bellone: Give Us Land For Startups
A Governor Cuomo program to link businesses and schools could score well at Suffolk Community College.
School officials have reached out to Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone about acquiring 63 acres adjacent to their 156-acre Selden campus to attract high-tech businesses.
“Suffolk Community College wants to participate, but we have no space. Colleges like Stony Brook has an incubator. We are filled to capacity,” spokesman Drew Biondo said. “In order for us to participate in the program, we really need to expand a bit, at least in Selden. We do have land in Brentwood and we do have land in Riverhead, but Riverhead is located in the Pine Barrens.”
About 26,000 students are enrolled in Suffolk Community College, the largest of the state’s 36 schools.
Biondo added that discussions were happening with county officials about transferring the 63 acres to the Selden campus. A Suffolk County spokeswoman confirmed conversations were underway.
“We are excited about the opportunity, but it it’s too early in the process to talk about the actual design and type of agreement that would be entered into,” Vanessa Bairdeeter said.
At the core of the matter is Governor Andrew Cuomo’s “Start-Up New York” program, which provides 10 years of tax-free operation for startups located on SUNY and CUNY college campuses. Downstate schools can only invite high-tech businesses, although Biondo said that definition is loose.
School officials are eager to open their doors to startups both for direct and indirect benefits. Having companies on campus would create relationships between students, faculty and businesses, Biondo said, in addition to internships and jobs. Not only would it benefit students studying engineering, science and liberal arts, he added, but almost any program could relate.
“Any back office operation that would support their business might be a place where our students could work, intern or learn something about entrepreneurial opportunities,” the school spokesman said.
Meanwhile, the arrangement would bring new employees to the area, who would likely buy or rent homes nearby. This translates into spending money at local businesses and restaurants.
“It indirectly benefits the college, but it supports the surrounding community,” Biondo said.
Transferring the property would also serve another problem at the Selden campus. Parking is in high demand and short supply, the spokesman added, especially with public transportation limited to a few busses. Plans call for additional parking spaces in the 63 acres.
“Public transportation is not equivalent to what it would be if we were in a large city. The majority of our students are driving their cars here. There is bus service and students do come to school by bus, but the majority drive,” Biondo said.
School officials are completing their application to Start-Up New York as discussions with the county persist. Assuming everything goes smoothly, new businesses likely won’t open their doors on campus for at least two years, possibly more.
For more coverage of this story, check out Newsday (subscription required).
Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, LIBC: Jobs, Infrastructure, Affordable Housing Hot Topics
With the state budget process underway since last month, New York Senator Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) spoke to the Long Island Business Council (LIBC) and guests about money and jobs.
The GOP Majority Leader was the guest speaker for Thursday’s meeting at the Sustainability Institute at Molloy College in Farmingdale. He began his discussion with jobs, identifying job creation as the top priority over his career. All community-level problems, like crime, connect to jobs.
“You are the people who create jobs. It shouldn't be government creating the jobs. We shouldn't be getting in your way,” Skelos said. “Our job is to make sure New York State is competitive with other states.”
While the Long Island legislator does believe Albany is moving in the right direction, it still has a hard time shaking a bad reputation that includes so many late budgets and high taxes. He advocated carefully cutting taxes to support small businesses and keep spending under control.
Fortunately, Skelos added, the state government is now working together.
He referenced new Long Island unemployment figures. The rate dropped from 7.1 percent in December 2012 to 5.1 percent this past December. However, the senator also said those figures might be skewed by a large number of service jobs and not high-paying jobs.
Skelos called Long Island “car-dependent” and said state funding is critical for maintaining road infrastructure.
"These funds would be critical to improve our roads and transportation infrastructure," he said.
The infrastructure conversation carried over to the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant, which was knocked out of commission by Superstorm Sandy. Plant officials, the legislator said, want to fortify Bay Park before the next hurricane strikes. He also backed calls for a $600 million ocean outflow pipe, which would dump effluent – treated sewage – into the Atlantic Ocean instead of Reynolds Channel.
“HUD is seriously considering that,” he said.
The senator also suggested that Long Island could use a shift in thinking. Reflecting on a situation nearly 20 years ago, Skelos and the MTA had $10 million to build a parking garage in Rockville Centre. The structure would have alleviated congestion and unique options were available, but the community shot it down.
"The bottom line is, for commuting in downtown areas, we have to do things that work," he said.
When asked how to halt the brain drain on Long Island, Skelos’ response was affordable housing.
"We have to look at our downtown areas, not necessarily to elminate the suburban way of life we come here for but also facing reality that we need more afforable housing on Long Island. It can be rental housing. It can be done in such a way that it protects the community. But unless we do it, our young people would not be able to stay on Long Island," he said.
Meanwhile, Dowling College Professor Nathalia Rogers said small business IRAs could keep local companies afloat in hard times. She continued to support the proposed investments, which would permit small businesses to deposit profits and withdraw them tax-free during an officially-designated recession. Rogers argued this would preserve Long Island jobs and protect capital funds.
Scott Martella, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Suffolk County representative also discussed the Regional Economic Development Councils. Created three years ago, the governor’s staff said they serve as a way to identify needs for individual communities, determine which projects are most important and how to provide funding. Long Island received $244 million in the first three years; a fourth year is included in Cuomo’s proposed budget.
Also at the LIBC meeting, State Assemblyman Joe Saladino credited Skelos as a hard-worker and said Cuomo was great to work with. The legislator also said he’s invested in the fight to keep young people from leaving Long Island, adding that they need people interested in helping others, not taking credit, to join the cause.
Assistant Comptroller Joe Galante, who reports to New York Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, was the final speaker Thursday. He encouraged everyone to check for unclaimed funds on the comptroller website. Bellante also said that DiNapoli will soon issue an official report on the state budget, although he said the budget is trending in the right direction.
Long Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President Louis Vasquez addressed crowd looking to network Latino businesses
throughout Long Island.
The next LIBC meeting is scheduled for May 15 at 8 a.m.
High ‘Scores’ For Communities Eschewing Cars
Not only do communities with walkable downtowns enjoy a great reputation, but they may be easier on residents’ budgets.
“At this point in time, it’s holding its breath as some of the building gets finished.”
Nonprofit Walk Score released their 2014 best cities for public transit late last month. Comparing access to public transit, parks, stores and other metrics, New York City earned a top score among 300 cities with 81 of 100.
But Walk Score also calculates scores for countless zip codes, including Long Island towns and villages. And according to Better! Cities & Towns, family transportation costs penalize those living in less walkable communities.
Homes in traditional suburban communities without a Main Street for small businesses and restaurants, public transportation and community resources like parks and libraries within walking distance typically do cost less than homes in cities or urban neighborhoods. But Better! Cities & Towns said the cost of buying a car, paying for maintenance, keeping it insured and fueling it up is about $10,000 per year of pre-tax income.
Walk Score heavily penalizes Long Island communities without downtowns. Melville scored a 21, Commack earned a 29 and Ridge picked up a 37. Scores from 0-24 mean that nearly all errands require a car, while 90-100 is classified as a “walker’s paradise.”
Ralph Ekstrand, mayor of the Village of Farmingdale, which earned a score of 77, said their success is equal parts access to LIRR station and specialty-type stores filling up Main Street.
The downtown push began in 2006, with Vision Long Island support. Elected April 2012 on a campaign of Smart Growth, Ekstrand said that included mixed-use zoning code, a redesigned master plan, a Downtown Revitalization Committee. Now the village’s first Smart Growth project – the $59-million Jefferson Plaza mixed-use development – is under construction.
Main Street is less than half-a-mile from the Farmingdale LIRR station, which the mayor said draws 4,400 daily riders and represents a major selling point.
“That shows you how much of a need there is for affordable housing by the station,” Ekstrand said.
Also in Nassau County, Westbury Mayor Peter Cavallaro said a LIRR station lies in the middle of their village of 15,500 residents. The Westbury station cuts through Post Avenue.
The Village of Westbury, which received a 62 from Walk Score, also features some highly-rated restaurants, a park, new musical venue Space at Westbury and 700 units of multi-family housing.
“We have tried to implement the principals of developing around the train station and making that a draw,” Cavallaro said.
Smart Growth, the mayor added, is a long-term philosophy that’s made downtown more vibrant.
“We want to have a healthy business community so we can have a healthy residential community,” he said, referencing the relationship between both.
Across the border in Suffolk County, the Village of Patchogue received a Walk Score of 86. While many walkable neighborhoods are home to unique stores and open space, Patchogue has a plethora of arts, music and cultural resources.
Brick House Brewery opened in 1995, bringing live music and in-house beers. Blue Point Brewery, which was just sold to Anheuser Busch-Imbev for $24 million, opened in 1997. A fan of music and beer, Patchogue Arts Council President John Cino said Blue Point started to host events.
These days, the village is home to 45 live/work loft apartments in Artspace, the Plaza Cinema & Arts Center, local shows and larger venues like 89 North and the Emporium.
“It keeps people in town. They’re not looking to go somewhere else,” Cino said. “It brings people in from out of town.”
The village is also home to a $100 million mixed-use building with 291 apartments. The first tenants of New Village at Patchogue will be able to move in by this spring, with all construction expected to be over by the summer. It’ll also house 46,000 square feet of retail space and 18,000 square feet of office space.
Early in the new millennium, Cino said his mother-in-law was looking to move from Queens but wanted to remain independent. She ended up in Patchogue, living within walking distance of a library and church.
“It was perfect for her,” he said.
Advocates: Keeping Growing That Smart Growth Law
A state Smart Growth law is producing benefits, although advocates argue it could be even more comprehensive.
Empire State Future (ESF) released a new review of former Governor David Patterson’s Smart Growth Public Infrastructure Policy Act last month. ESF is a coalition of organizations and business across New York including Renaissance Downtowns, Tri-State Transportation Campaign and Vision Long Island.
Enacted in 2010, the Smart Growth law is designed to fight sprawl by preventing New York’s seven infrastructure agencies from approving, financing or undertaking a project unless it attempts to meet 10 Smart Growth criteria. That includes a focus on maintaining and improving existing infrastructure, support mixed use development, foster variety of transportation opportunities, protect open space and improve inter-municipality communication
After releasing a preliminary report in 2012, ESF found the law was making a difference on capital projects.
“The Smart Growth law is slowly becoming a critical checkpoint to prevent sprawl through direct intervention in infrastructure funding: its progress is welcome, and more is needed,” Director Peter B. Fleischer said. “The challenge New York faces as we move forward with fully realizing the law’s benefits is that many state agencies, public authorities, and public corporations still do not view themselves as subject to the statute. If they do find themselves subject to it, getting some agencies to use the necessary impact statements or to provide them publicly remains an issue of concern.
The MTA submitted Smart Growth Impact Studies, which requires officials to say if they’re meeting the criteria and explain why or why not, for four nearby projects: transfer of LIRR property at Mitchell Field to Nassau County expansion of a natural gas facility, Ronkonkoma property acquisition, exchange of property at LIRR’s Wyandanch station and subleasing MTA property near the MetroNorth Riveredale station parking lot for New York City Department of Environmental Preservation’s drainage improvements.
However, Empire State Future officials did note the law could be expanded to include more state agencies and authorities. Neither SUNY nor the SUNY Construction Fund are required to abide, just as the tax credit incentives handed out by the Regional Economic Development Councils are not. They also urge state officials to include pass-through agencies like the New York State Dormitory Authority, which only provides funding without any control over construction.
For a copy of the report, visit ESF online.
Suburbs Still Popular With Families, Despite Growing Cities
Cities and urban neighborhoods may be developing into family- and child-free zones.
In a piece for Better! Cities & Towns, National Resources Defense Council Director of Sustainable Communities Kaid Benfield said the numbers support his observation that cities no longer support family life.
“The portion of families with kids may be smaller than in the past, but it is not insignificant. In our rush to promote higher-density urbanism, are we inadvertently creating child-free zones that are inhospitable to families with kids?” he asked.
The number of total children in America is falling, but youths still create a significant portion of the population. As of late 2012, residents under 18 made up 24 percent of the population.
According to Urbanophile, San Francisco had the lowest percentage of children of 61 municipalities with at least 300,000 people in 2010 with just 13.4 percent. In fact, the 10 worst cities for youths under 18 were a veritable list of trendy cities like Portland, Ore. With 19.1 percent, Seattle, Wash. With 15.4 percent and Boston, Mass. with 16.8 percent.
Benfield referenced the Urbanophile article, which claims singles, gays and empty-nesters now call cities home. They’re a growing demographic, albeit somewhat limited. Families and middle-aged are more likely to leave the city for more space in the suburbs.
The article also suggests that cities are lacking in resources. Urban neighborhoods need playgrounds as well as trendy espresso bars, larger and smaller homes, and more public open space.
On the other hand, Long Island tends to be very family-friendly. Not only can families enjoy endless beaches on both shores or children’s museums in Garden City and Bridgehampton, but the island is home to a number of unique activities. Many towns celebrate holidays like Easter, Fourth of July, Hanukkah and Christmas independently. Communities also host their own special events, like the Mattituck Annual Strawberry Festival in June and Northport Family Fun Nights in August. Captree State Park in Babylon hosts dozens of charter fishing boats, Adventureland in Farmingdale draws kids young and old with thrilling rides and Bayville Adventure Park is overrun with zombies, ghouls, clowns and other nasties for Halloween.
Linda Parmely, program director of the Families, Children and Youth funding initiative at the Hagedorn Foundation, said Long Island still offers families the amenities of suburbs even if it’s getting harder to access them. The Hagedorn Foundation financially supports social equality on Long Island via regional nonprofits.
“The reason people came is still valid. You have the green, the beaches, better schools. The appearance of a place to raise your family still exists and there are still remnants of that,” Parmely said. “It’s just a struggle because of the economy, taxes, transportation and issues we face. There’s these great parks and beaches. But the parks during the day are empty.”
She reflected on the surge of festivals, fairs and events at Eisenhower Park in the last year. These events do draw crowds into the park, which is noticeably vacant much of the time.
“It’s good. We have these spaces that should be used,” she added.
State Awarding $50,000 Grants To Promote Contamination Cleanups
New York State is awarding grants to community groups promoting remedial activities in their community.
The Department of Environmental Conservation has made up to $50,000 available per site for increasing public awareness and understanding of Brownfield, Superfund and other contaminated sites that pose a significant threat to the public and/or environment. Not-for-profits are eligible to apply for the funds; no matching contribution is required.
Application information is avaialble on the state's website.
Apply Now For $3,000 Art And History Grants
Community arts and history organizations can now apply for a $3,000 shot in the arm.
The Preservation League of New York State has a pool of $45,103 available for Technical Assistance Grants (TAG) in 2014.
Not-for-profits arts groups and municipalities managing historic sites, museums, arts facilities and other culturally important institutions may apply for TAG funding. The application can only go towards short-term, discrete projects that advance preservation of historic sites, museums, arts facilities and other culturally important institutions located in historic buildings and open to the public.
TAG funds can be used for consultant fees, photography, in-state travel, report production costs and other direct costs for approved projects.
The applicant must be owner of the resource of subject of TAG application. Long-term lease situations may be considered, but not if the resource is in private hands.
TAG funding will be awarded in spring and fall sessions this year. The maximum grant for either is $3,000. The total cost is also limited to $3,500 and applicants must be able to provide a $500 cash match to the grant.
Applications are due no later than March 3.
For a full list of rules about the grant, check out these guidelines. To apply, contact Preservation League Regional Director Erin Tobin at 518-462-5658 x12.
Scotts Planting $1,500 Grants For Community Gardens
For green space projects, money can be an excellent fertilizer.
Scotts Miracle-Gro is giving away $1,500 grants in their GRO1000 Grassroot Grants award program to fund community green space development.
“Gardens offer something very unique to our communities," Jim King, senior vice president, said. "From providing better nutrition to encouraging environmental education, community green spaces help bring neighborhoods together.”
Committing to create more than 1,000 community gardens and green spaces in America, Europe and Canada by the company’s 150th anniversary in 2018, Scotts will award $500-$1,500 to not-for-profit civic organizations. The size of the grant is dependent on community need, scope of project and long-term sustainability of the green space.
Applications are due by Feb. 17. The application form is available on the GRO1000 website.
Scotts Miracle-Gro and the U.S. Conference of Mayors also recently announced the winners of its GRO1000 Showcase Grants, funds awarded to cities to create innovative public gardens and green spaces. Five cities, including Bridgeport, received grants.