February 12th - 18th, 2017
The Engel Burman Group
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"We are on our way on Main Street. It will not be denied. I am happy. I wish that every store was full now, but I know in the not too distant future, every store will be full. Main Street’s future is looking bright." - Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter speaking on the State of the Town
Supervisor Walter Touts Main Street Development, Preservation in Riverhead State of the Town
For the 7th time Supervisor Sean Walter delivered a State of the Town address for Riverhead, and brought a strong message of development and land use over the course of the last year.
A big part of Riverhead’s successes in 2016 has been efforts to reform land use codes and bring new development to Main Streets, according to Supervisor Walter. Part of this includes change to the code to allow for a new Community Life Center near Main Street, a project that has been planned for over a decade now. The Supervisor also spoke on the recently submitted mixed use 117 unit workforce housing and 12,000 sq. foot retail space proposed for the corner of McDermott Ave and East Main Street. This proposal is located directly next door to the location of the recently demolished Sears building which is being proposed as a location for another mixed use, combined open space property to abut the East End Arts property. The plan for this site will be submitted in 2017.
In addition to these proposals, there has already been a groundbreaking by Conifer Realty for West Main Street that will include 45 new art space apartments as part of a plan to re-envision West Main. 2016 has also seen the approval and construction of a new 20-room boutique hotel called the Preston House, which is located across the street from the Hyatt Hotel. The Supervisor also mentioned amended zoning that will allow for a new movie theater on Route 58, which has already signed a lease and is looking to tear down the old Wal-Mart shopping center there and build in the same lot.
Another big move this year has been the purchase and designation of two parcels of land in Jamesport for preservation. The area include a 10-acre front parcel as well as a separate 32-acre area nearby. Known as Sharper’s Hill, the land will be preserved for open space and agriculture in perpetuity, pending final approval by the County Legislature, as part of the County’s farmland purchase of development rights program.
Legislator Al Krupski sponsored the legislation which began the preservation process last year. “There are many people to thank for getting us to this point including my colleagues in the Suffolk County Legislature for approving the appraisal, Riverhead Town for agreeing to maintain the hamlet park, the landowner for participating in the process and the community for having the foresight in recognizing the importance of these lands and working towards their preservation.”
Another big move in 2016 mentioned by the Supervisor was the recently upgraded sewage treatment plant. Resulting from new regulations concerning nitrogen discharge, the town’s discharge is now 75% cleaner than it was in the past.
Supervisor Walter also spoke on a few other subjects ranging from the passage of term limits for elected officials to the need for mandate relief from the state in the face of tax caps from the state and new fees from the County. You can read the Supervisor’s full State of the Town speech here.
Continued Planning for East Farmingdale TOD
The Town of Babylon has hired Florida-based planning firm Dover, Kohl & Partners to draft revisions to land development regulations in East Farmingdale aimed at creating transportation opportunities in the hamlet. Possibilities include mixed use apartment buildings and a reopened Long Island Railroad station that are both served by a bus rapid transit line.
Initial renderings of possible improvements were presented at a public meeting of about 25 residents earlier this month showing three- to five-story buildings, bike lanes, widened sidewalks, new crosswalks, and new public spaces. These would be located on both sides of the existing tracks north of Conklin Street and east of Route 110. Rezoning would focus on the intersection of 110 and Conklin.
The initial presentation was in line with Town of Babylon’s stated goals of creating dense, walkable communities that feature public transit and are possible due to “form-based code” currently being drafted for the area. “If there’s one place in the region where producing a quantity of new mixed-income housing would be right, it’s this one,” said Dover Kohl, one of the principles of the hired firm.
The Town has also hired AKRF, a Manhattan based environmental engineering firm, to conduct an environmental review at the site. At the same time, Babylon has procured to separate grants from the Empire State Development Corporation and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to pay for the firms hired.
Key challenges include support of the residents some who want to see a smaller project, coordination with existing property owners, who understandably have their own ideas on the site, and creating a new code for the area that will hold up in court. The timeframe for a new station that has been shared by the MTA is 3-5 years with a commitment of $5 million in its 2015-19 capital program, but that could be extended to all for time to get it right.
Babylon will be holding public meetings over the next few months to further gather input and possible code changes will go before the town board for approval this fall.
You can read more on this story here.
Smithtown Residents form New Civic Association
Some residents, elected officials and business owners in Smithtown have come together to form Smithtown United, an association that will advocate for residents on issues of local importance. The new group forms at a time when Smithtown has become the focus of proposed budget infusions from the Governor’s office for downtown sewering and interest in downtown redevelopment. The inaugural meeting of this group was held this past Tuesday at the Brush Barn and included about 60 attendees. The meeting was coordinated by the local Chamber of Commerce.
The group is formed at a time when local partnerships continue to have increased influence on redevelopment on Long Island. The Kings Park Civic Association and Chamber of Commerce were a big part of landing a $20 million proposal for downtown sewers in that hamlet. At the same time, St. James residents came out in support of improvements on Lake Avenue, including a new library, last month.
The Town of Smithtown government works better when people stand up at board meetings with a cohesive message,” said founding member Mark Mancini, an architect, and former Smithtown Chamber of Commerce president. We saw, with Kings Park, what they were able to put together. They were able to come up with plans and present them to the town. Smithtown needs the same thing.”
You can read more on this subject here.
Town of Islip to Implement Compliance Incentive Program
The Town of Islip has announced a program aimed at bringing previously unpermitted projects into compliance with town code at a discounted price. This will help to encourage commercial property owners to complete the process at a 40% reduced rate for Certificates of Compliance while ensuring that buildings are safe, habitable, and in compliance with code. This will also protect owners from having insurance claims voided and protect their ability to apply for loans and refinancing.
"This is a one-time program to remedy a serious public safety issue. I urge property owners to come forward and bring their buildings up to code," said Supervisor Angie Carpenter. "Our inspectors and Planning Department officials are eager to work with these local businesses and guide them through this process."
To be eligible for this temporary program, the unpermitted activity must have occurred prior to January 31, 2013 and a complete Certificate of Compliance permit filed with the Building Department by May 31, 2017. If the Town grants a permit, the previously unpermitted structure must be brought into compliance within one year. If a violation has been reported and an appearance ticket issued, property owners will no longer qualify for this program. Enforcement efforts will be increased once the Compliance Incentive Program officially ends.
For more information, call the Islip Town Planning Department at (631) 224-5450.
You can read the full press release here.
Long Island Municipalities Listen to Proposed Local Government Consolidations and Efficiency Measures from NYS & County Officials
Vision was out this week with New York State staff, Suffolk County officials and a handful of local municipalities to hear about the recent New York State proposal to consolidate local governments and promote greater efficiency.
Long Island elected officials in attendance were Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, Suffolk County Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory, County Legislators Monica Martinez and William Lindsey, Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine and Village of Mastic Beach Mayor Maura Spery.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said "Without conversations, you can't have consolidation. This plan presents County Executives across the state with a unique opportunity to forge consensus with local governments on the best ways to share services and find efficiencies that will reduce duplicative spending. By collaborating with our local partners and giving voters an opportunity to weigh in on our proposal, we can make local government smarter, stronger, and less costly to taxpayers -- while establishing New York as a national model for government efficiency."
The proposal, if supported by the New York State legislature, will include a shared services plan to be completed by both Counties that must pass as a referendum in the 2017 election cycle in November. This proposal applies to local Towns and Villages and does not include school districts that are about 70% of the property tax bill.
Most municipalities did not participate to date. Due to the 2% tax cap and New York State mandated costs, budgets have already been stretched to the bone. New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli has released reports monitoring the fiscal health of local municipalities and sees delayed maintenance and infrastructure capital investments suffering from these tight budgets. Local Villages have also not seen an increase in AIM (Aid to Municipalities) funding which makes a difficult situation worse with increased costs and limited revenue.
In related news, the Town of Brookhaven received a $50,000 grant from the state to plan for intermunicipal cost sharing. A total of 5 upstate counties and Brookhaven will be competing for a $20 million grant from the Municipal Consolidation and Efficiency Competition. Brookhaven’s grant will allow them to launch a study to work towards consolidating certain services and costs, such as water districts, erosion districts, and town managed sewer districts.
Not all were hopeful that consolidation plans would be beneficial. "The only thing it provides is a mandate from the state," Peter Baynes, executive director of the state Conference of Mayors, said. "It's not something that can be forced down from above." Other mayors said that they already share services, in part because the state's current property tax cap strains their finances, and that school taxes are the biggest issue.
New York State Senate Majority leader John Flanagan said that he believed the proposal was convoluted, adding that if voters are truly unhappy with their local services they can vote the officials out of office. “Can we try to make sure that we’re being efficient and saving taxpayers money? Yes, absolutely,” Flanagan said. “But a carrot and stick are two different things.”
You can check out the transcript of the Governor’s address which gives further details on the consolidation idea here, and also learn more about the Municipal Consolidation and Efficiency Competition that Brookhaven will be working on here.
NICE Announces New Service Cuts Due to Budget Shortfall
Nassau Inter-County Express has announced a new round of service cuts and reductions due to an almost $7 million shortfall thanks to a reduction of subsidy from Nassau County. These cuts are currently scheduled for April unless alternative funding can be found, and could affect up to 5,400 riders and involve 10 separate lines, which represents about 12.75% of NICE’s service to the area.
According to NICE, these reductions come as a result of Nassau County reducing its annual subsidy from $6.8 million to $2.5 million as a result from pressure by the Nassau Interim Finance Authority. Michael Setzer, CEO of NICE, recently sent a letter to the Nassau County Legislature asking them to help plug the gap in order to avoid the service reductions.
“The scale of these cuts will be significant, and you must be made aware of the effect this will have on many people," Setzer wrote. "These eliminations and reductions will have consequences for many riders who rely on transit for access to jobs, college, health care, child care and more."
Nassau County has responded by turning to the state, requesting additional funds be made available to avoid the service cuts, including a share of the MTA’s payroll mobility tax or implementation of a surcharge on ride-share services in the county. Nassau Dems have also requested the use of a $7 million general purpose fund that the County has yet to allocate to help alleviate the shortfall.
Two weeks ago a coalition of legislators, small businesses, labor, community and human service groups have been calling on the State for assistance for bus service in this year’s budget for both Counties.
Long Island Regional Planning Council Tackles Resiliency
This Wednesday, February 15, the Long Island Regional Planning Council held their first meeting of the year.
Among other important resolutions and items on the agenda, the topic of resiliency was central with a presentation from Malcolm Bowman, PhD., P.E., Distinguished Professor of Physical Oceanography, Stony Brook University and Chair, Metro NY/NJ Storm Surge Working Group. Dr. Bowman describes his role as “trying to bridge what I call an ideological sort of divide between the gray and the green”
The presentation was followed by a panel consisting of Dr. Bowman and other distinguished members of the LI community, including Hon. Robert Kennedy, Mayor, Village of Freeport, Jack Schnirman, City Manager, City of Long Beach, Marcia Bystrun, President, New York League of Conservation Voters, and Mike DeNicola, Vice President, Haven & Sawyer.
Both the presentation and the panel discussion focused on identifying and implementing solutions to two real threats to Long Island and much of the Eastern coast of the United States: storm surge and rising sea levels resulting from climate change. Another storm the equivalent of or worse than Superstorm Sandy could hit at any time, while the ever-increasing impact from rising sea levels may not reach catastrophic levels for another 75 – 150 years.
While storm surge and rising sea levels are talked about as coastal issues, there is a ripple effect. Zombie homes will impact the overall desirability to live in coastal communities similar to Freeport, Long Beach and Mastic. The economic impact of the deterioration or disappearance of these communities not only effects their village or township, but their county and ultimately the larger region. “Freeport alone contributes $15.8M a year in sales tax. What happens if we have another Superstorm Sandy? Where is $15.8M? Where is it generated from? We need to be proactive, not reactive.” stated Mayor Kennedy.
Some methods of preventing flooding were also discussed, including barrier systems. Such systems have long been in place domestically in places such as Stamford, Connecticut and New Bedford, Massachusetts. Implementation of such a system in our region and funding are part of these ongoing discussions. Getting approval for a regional solution will take time and need to be reviewed by local governmental entities and agencies.
Dr. Bowman’s presentation will be posted to the Long Island Regional Planning Council’s website shortly for those interested in more detail.
NYMTC Annual Meeting Set for February 22nd
Carlo Scissura, President & CEO of the New York Building Congress, will be the keynote speaker at NYMTC’s 2017 Annual Meeting on February 22, 2017 at 11:15 a.m. The theme of the meeting, which will be held at New York University’s Kimmel Center, 60 Washington Square South in lower Manhattan, will be Making the Case for Infrastructure Investment. NYMTC’s members will take action to adopt the $44 million State Fiscal Year April 1, 2017 – March 31, 2018 Unified Planning Work Program, as well as take action to amend the fiscally-constrained element of NYMTC’s Regional Transportation Plan to include two Bus Rapid Transit projects in Suffolk County. They will also recognize Tom Prendergast of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Carl Weisbrod of the NYC Department of City Planning for their contributions to the Council as Principal members. The meeting agenda and resolutions are available at www.NYMTC.org.
For security purposes, bring a valid photo ID and R.S.V.P. by calling (212) 383-7200 or by sending an e-mail to Andrea.Miles-Cole@dot.ny.gov. Please note that meeting attendees will be required to go through security upon entering. Please allow ample time. The New York Metropolitan Transportation Council complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act and federal Limited English Proficiency guidelines. If you need special accommodations to participate in this meeting, or translation services into Spanish, Russian, Chinese or American Sign Language, please contact Andrea.Miles-Cole@dot.ny.gov within 72 hours of the meeting.
Habitat for Humanity Suffolk to Team up with Chipotle for Fund Raiser
On Thursday, March 2nd, Habitat for Humanity Suffolk with team up with Chipotle for a fundraiser at the 435 Walt Whitman Road location in Huntington Station. If you bring in a flyer (located here), show it on your smartphone, or tell the cashier you're supporting the cause, 50% of your purchase will be donated to Habitat for Humanity Suffolk.
Long Island Business Council to Hold Joint Meeting on March 9th
Please join us for the next meeting of the Long Island Business Council, Co-Sponsored by Vision Long Island, Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce & Suffolk County Alliance of Chambers. The meeting will take place on Thursday, March 9th, 2017, at the East Farmingdale Fire Department, 930 Conklin Street, Farmingdale, from 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM.
Special Guest Speaker will be NYS Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul.
Please RSVP to 877-811-7471 or email@example.com. Attendance is free for Long Island Business Council Members, all others must indicate payment method when registering. Online Registration is available here.
The 2017 Complete Streets Summit
Please join us for the 2017 Complete Streets Summit on Thursday, March 30th, from 8:30 AM - 12:30 PM at The Sustainability Institute at Molloy College, located at 7180 Republic Airport in Farmingdale.
This event consists of a contingent of chambers of commerce, civic associations, local governments, engineering and professional trade groups, transit advocates and members of the public who want safe streets for all modes of traffic. The group looks to coordinate Complete Streets planning efforts, communicate on finding opportunities for local projects, and act as a clearinghouse for information and lobby with a united voice for safe roadways.
Past Complete Streets Summits, held at the Sustainability Institute at Molloy College in Farmingdale, have been gatherings of government leaders, planners, engineers, nonprofits and other community stakeholders who support policy changes to design roadways for all uses – not just automobiles. The Summit was a chance to remind participants of the campaign’s significance.
Online registration is available here. You can also register by contacting Vision Long Island at 631-261-0242 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Long Island Coalition for the Homeless to Hold “Have a Heart for the Homeless” Candlelight Vigil
Please join the Long Island Coalition for the Homeless at their “Have a Heart for the Homeless” Candlelight Vigil on April 4th, 2017 from 6:30PM – 8:30PM, in the Multi-Purpose Room in Roosevelt Hall at Farmingdale State College. The participation of every person who cares will make a difference. Let us show that Long Islanders want to eradicate homelessness and hunger that exist in our affluent society. Please wear RED!
There will be free hair cuts, face painting, story time for children, balloon animals, a candlelighting ceremony, and more. Your group can also help by conducting drives to collect NEW baby items, toiletries, cleaning supplies and non-perishable foods. You can check out the 2017 Vigil KIT that includes everything you need to conduct a successful drive here. You can also join as a sponsor of this important event. Sponsorships include opportunities for Information Tables at the event, as well as company logo on all Vigil T-Shirts! A sponsorship brochure is available here.
Destination downtowns, arts grant applications due Feb. 24
Grant applications for Suffolk County destination downtowns, cultural arts and emerging film festivals are due Feb. 24.
Funding for the program – the 2017 Cultural Arts Competitive, Destination Downtown and Emerging Film Festivals grant – is subject to availability and approval by the county legislature. The opportunities are offered by the Suffolk County Department of Economic Development and Planning in cooperation with the Cultural Affairs Citizens Advisory Board for the Arts and the Suffolk County Motion Picture/Television Film Commission.
The destination downtown opportunity includes two $25,000 awards for programs that complement the county’s transit-oriented development agenda that was adopted in the county’s Comprehensive Master Plan 2035. The film festival program provides grant awards for film exhibitions that provide opportunities for local, national, and international filmmakers to screen their films and offer the chance to promote Suffolk County as a film-friendly region.
Technical Assistance Grants for Affordable Solar Projects Available
NY-Sun is now accepting applications for the Affordable Solar Predevelopment and Technical Assistance program. This new funding opportunity supports the development of solar projects for multifamily affordable housing and community solar projects serving low-to-moderate income (LMI) households, with up to $200,000 for each approved proposal.
Many LMI households are unable to access benefits from conventional residential solar installations. To help expand access to solar benefits for LMI households, NYSERDA is seeking proposals for projects leading to:
Projects related to on-site solar installations for owner-occupied houses are not eligible for funding through this solicitation. However, NY-Sun provides support to LMI homeowners through the Affordable Solar Program.
Applications may be submitted by local governments, affordable housing, community organizations and service providers working to make solar accessible to LMI communities in New York. NY-Sun will accept and review applications on a rolling basis until all funds are exhausted. Visit the program webpage for more details and the application.
If you have questions about the solicitation, please email email@example.com.
DOE Solar in Your Community Challenge Grant
The Solar in Your Community Challenge is an 18-month, $5 million prize competition to support community-based solar programs and projects aimed at providing solar access to low and moderate income communities. The Challenge is aimed at supporting innovators across the U.S. to create scalable solutions that will bring solar to nonprofits, LMI households and local and tribal governments. Selected teams will be provided with seed funding as they complete milestones, receive technical assistance from an online marketplace of qualified experts, and compete to win final prizes from May 1, 2017 to October 31, 2018.
If you are interested in learning more about the Solar in Your Community Challenge and forming a team, please visit the program webpage. The application deadline is March 17, 2017. This program is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative and is administered by SUNY Polytechnic Institute.
Intern with Vision Long Island!
Vision Long Island is looking for interns! Our staff likes to say we "wear many hats," and interns will have to do the same. Interns will assist with planning, design, outreach, event planning, writing, research, attending meetings, reporting, photography, video and more. Bring your unique skill set to the table! We are looking for energetic and conscientious individuals with an interest in urban/suburban planning from a bottom-up perspective. This is a valuable opportunity to work with great people and learn about the issues impacting Long Island. Strong writing skills a plus.
What's happening on your Main Street this weekend?
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Garvies Point Museum and Preserve
For information, visit their website or call 516-439-5218
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Bow Tie Port Washington
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Cold Spring Harbor
For information, visit their website or call 631-351-3250
Port Jefferson Historical Society
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Texas A&M Introduces Creates First-in-the-Country Glow-in-the-Dark Bike Lanes
In a move to help spread safety for both cyclists and pedestrians, Texas A&M recently installed glow-in-the-dark bike lanes on a campus intersection. Four islands, near the corner of each intersection, prevent cars from turning into the path of a cyclist. Cars stop further back than they would at a normal intersection, making both bikes and pedestrians more visible. The bike lane has a curb to separate it from traffic and the crosswalk. Green markings clearly show bikers where to go, and a green lane leads up to the intersection from each direction.
You can check out the full story of this first-in-the-country project here.
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