March 2nd - 8th, 2019
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The following quotes come from some of the organizations that joined with the Long Island Lobby Coalition for this year's trip to Albany:
The following quote is from a recent meeting with the Garden City Chamber of Commerce:
“Where Amazon expected parades they got protests. There is an arrogance when you go into communities and not connect with people there. The City and State needed to explain the billions in tax revenue generated as opposed to simply the tax credits given. Lastly local interests with loud voices scared them away. On Long Island we have a time now not to be complacent and embrace change.” - RXR CEO & Chairman Scott Rechler
Long Island Lobby Coalition Heads to Albany for 11th Annual Trip
Members of the Long Island Lobby Coalition traveled to Albany this week to meet with state lawmakers on a shared agenda for our region and local communities.
The coalition was founded in 2009 and has worked tirelessly since then to unify disparate groups and organizations that represent community, environmental, small business, labor, and human services into a single, unified voice. The group has seen ten bills passed to the benefit of Long Island in its time as well as numerous budgetary and regulatory proposals enacted, and several key Long Island infrastructure projects funded through our collective efforts.
This year’s agenda included support for tax-deferred IRA accounts for small businesses, implementation of internet fairness, restoration of NYS AIM funding cuts, funding for the NYS downtown revitalization initiative, bus funding for NICE and Suffolk County Transit, fair share for bike and pedestrian safety, a commuter benefit ordinance, water quality, statewide food recovery & recycling act, banning off shore drilling, support for off-shore wind and solar energy programs, foreclosure assistance, support for Pre-K services. Infrastructure asks include traffic calming for Sunrise Highway and Hicksville, Huntington Station sewering and land transfer for Kings Park, the continuing of the Route 347 Greenway project and funding for the Empire Trail.
The first meeting of the day was with the bi-partisan members of the Long Island Senate delegation including Senators John Flanagan, Senator Todd Kaminsky, Monica R. Martinez for State Senate, Senator Phil Boyle, Senator Anna M. Kaplan, Senator Jim Gaughran, and Senator Kevin Thomas. We were particularly pleased to see bipartisanship from the Senate members as they agreed on a variety of issues based on region rather than party. The Senators vowed to work together in a bipartisan fashion on varying items from the Calition's agenda. Items of interest that were discussed included funding for route 347 and other infrastructure projects as well as water quality.
The coalition would also meet with Assemblymembers that included Steve Stern, Michael Fitzpatrick, Doug Smith, Judy Griffin, Assemblyman Andrew Raia, Michaelle C. Solages, Andrew R. Garbarino, and Joe DeStefano. The Assemblymembers who were able to join us did so at a time when most were needed elsewhere for important committee meetings, which showed that they understood that listening to constituents was an important part of their job as well. Assemblymembers agreed to take the lead for many of the budget and legislative issues raised in the coalition's platform.
The final meeting of the day was with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s staff and included representatives from the Departments of Energy, Transportation, Economic Development, and Legislative Affairs along with the LI staff. The group of six representatives listened as the Coalition laid out its agenda, taking notes in order to bring them back to Governor Cuomo as well as targeting which members of government they could work with to help get these important issues passed.
Vision Long Island and the LI Lobby Coalition would like to thank all the members of our State government who took the time to hear the message from local communities and provide feedback. Lawmakers and the Governor’s representatives responded positively to most of the items on our agenda and indicated that some of them have even begun to move through committees. We look forward to continuing to work with state government to bring Long Island priorities to fruition as often and as quickly as possible.
“These diverse issues effect every single Long Islander, that’s why there is such immense support for the LI Lobby Coalition. Drinking water protection, advancing solar and wind power, supporting our small businesses and also helping those in need are critical issues that Long Islanders can all agree on and issues that will make our island sustainable and affordable,” said Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment.
“In a political climate that is joyfully hostile to collaboration, negotiation and fairness Long Island community, business, environment and labor organizations are working together to address key local needs. This coalition once again serves as a powerful public voice to bring resources back to our Main Streets” Eric Alexander, Director, Vision Long Island.
John Durso, President of the Long Island Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO said, “The LI Lobby Coalition has spent over a decade advocating for more funding for transportation, sewage and infrastructure priorities that support our region. We have a record of success advancing housing, human services, environmental programs, and legislation that benefits all working families throughout our region." Durso continued, “We look forward to expanding Facilitated Childcare Enrollment to include Long Island, and add this to our list of accomplishments benefiting the region.”
“The Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce, Suffolk County Alliance of Chambers, Inc. and the Long Island Business Council feel the responsibility for collecting and remitting sales and use taxes from out-of-state online purchases be alleviated from the individual New York State taxpayers and rightfully assumed by out-of-state ecommerce vendors or marketplace providers. Millions of uncollected funds are being lost as main street businesses continue to struggle with an unlevel playing field," said Francesca Carlow, President, Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce.
“This is an excellent opportunity to present Long Island’s major issues to our representatives in the State Legislature and to the Governor’s Office. Our discussions with them are positive, constructive and ongoing.” David H. Stonehill Board of Directors, Hispanic Counseling Center, Hempstead, NY.
“The Long Island Pre-K Initiative is requesting $750,000 to support a Regional Technical Assistance Center on Long Island to provide a bridge to assist school districts and early care and education partners to plan and develop a financially responsible system of care, and to serve as a model for New York State. Long Island has the lowest number of 4 year old children served in NYS public funded, full-day Pre-k.” – Lynda Parmely, LI Pre-k Initiative.
"Today, diverse leaders representing the broad spectrum of Long Island constituencies come together to speak with one voice. Those who hold positions of leadership in Albany can best demonstrate their support for Long Island by engaging, listening to and affirmatively acting on behalf of this broad coalition of voices that is now 100+ organizations and 10 years strong." Michael Harrison, Axcelsior LLC.
This year’s platform was assembled with direct input from over 40 groups and with the backing of nearly 100 supporting organizations.
Special thanks to our participants, who included AARP Long Island, AT&T, the Baldwin Civic Association, LI Transportation Alliance, Child Care Council of Suffolk , Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Concerned Citizens of Plainview / Old Bethpage,Orsted/Deepwater Wind, The Elmont Chamber of Commerce, Freeport Chamber of Commerce, Friends of Long Island, Friends of Freeport, Hempstead Chamber of Commerce, Hicksville Chamber Of Commerce, Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce, Island Harvest, Long Island Jobs with Justice, Kings Park Civic Association, the Long Island Bus Riders' Union, Long Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, LISTnet, Long Island Business Council, Long Island Coalition for the Homeless, the Long Island Federation of Labor, Mastic Beach Property Owners Association, Merrick Chamber of Commerce, Nassau Council of Chambers, Nassau Suffolk Law Services, Nesconset Chamber of Commerce, Oceanside Civic Association, Patchogue Chamber of Commerce, Plainview / Old Bethpage Chamber of Commerce, LI Pre-K Initiative, Renaissance Downtowns, Source the Station, Suffolk County Alliance of Chambers, SunPower by EmPower Solar, Town of Hempstead, Transit Solutions, Tri-State Transportation Campaign, and Vision Long Island.
NYS Senate Holds Public Meeting on LIRR Services
Vision was out last Friday at the NYS Senate hearing on LIRR service organized by the State Senate’s Committee on Corporations.
LIRR President Phil Eng, who accepted an invitation by the committee to appear, covered the improvements underway and how communication is improving. However, much more work needs to be done to update dozens of stations and modernize service across the system. Additionally, there were a lot of folks with questions on congestion pricing and the new Plan for the MTA circulated by the NYC Mayor and the NYS Governor.
All of this comes at a time when ridership has increased to its highest level ever with approximately 89.9 million riders using the system last year. He was questioned by committee members on the issues most affecting everyday riders such as train delays and cancelations and what is being done to ease those issues. Eng noted that LIRR is working to update and modernize the system with a hope that such improvements will minimize or eliminate those issues.
“We are accountable and we are challenging ourselves and the organization to continuously look for new ways to better use our resources to produce meaningful results,” said Mr. Eng. “And just as we are holding ourselves accountable, we are holding contractors, their subs, and suppliers accountable to make sure deadlines are met. We are managing with a sense of urgency, understanding that time is money.”
The meeting also covered what was being done to improve safety at grade crossings as well as the elimination of 7 of the 296 crossings across Long Island. Reflective delineators and road striping have both been added to intersections to help highlight the crossings. There was also discussion on what can be done to improve the experience for disabled passengers.
Eng also took time to praise responders who were called to the site of a crash the previous week. He noted it as an example of all of the different aspects of emergency responders coming together to smoothly respond to a tragedy.
You can read more here.
South Fork Commuter Connection Officially Opens
The South Fork Commuter Connection has officially opened as a way to help out commuters on Long Island’s southeast end.
The new Commuter Connection will seek to coordinate various rail and bus service during peak commuting hours in an effort to help alleviate traffic during peak hours. The first day of the service was this past Monday with Southampton Supervisor Jay Schneiderman and Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming both using the service to beat out the wintry mix and get to work.
The service will operate from Monday through Friday all year long except on major legal holidays and summer Fridays. Trains will stop at Speonl, Westhampton, Hampton Bays, Southampton, Bridgehampton, East Hampton, Amagansett, and Montauk. There will also be a “last mile” shuttle that will bus riders to nearby workplaces and employment centers.
Commuters can coordinate this and purchase tickets for both trains and busses through the MTA’s website. You can view the schedule for the new commuter connection here, and read more at LIBN’s site here.
Hofstra University Hosts Conference on NYC’s Geography of Jobs Report
Local leaders from across Long Island gathered at Hofstra University last Friday to review and discuss the recent Geography of Jobs report released by NYC in an event co-sponsored by Vision Long Island.
The group gathered together stakeholders from across Nassau County to discuss how the region is more interconnected than has seemed. Every day thousands of New Yorkers commute both to and from the city, creating an economic loop that generates both jobs and wealth for both the City and surrounding area. The report stresses the importance of planning with that in mind and creating a region that supports itself as well as its neighbors.
The event opened with Larry Levy of Hofstra’s National Center for Suburban Study giving opening remarks and welcomes. Hofstra president Stuart Rabinowitz would then give opening remarks, with an emphasis on reaching out to young people In the region to show them how interconnected we are. He particularly noted the Nassau HUB as a step forward in the process, which led into Nassau County Exectuive Laura Curran’s opening remarks as well.
The County Executive talked about how linked the region truly is, and how the driving economic force of the City and Nassau County together make for one of the more important regions in the area. She noted that it was important to stop acting like rivals and more like the partners we are to help grow and stabilize the area.
Marisa Lago was the next speaker, presenting the Geography of Jobs report that had been compiled byh the NYC last year. She talked about how this meeting in and of itself was an important step as she could not remember another time an official from NYC was asked to speak to a Long Island group. Her presentation hit on the patterns of growth in the area and how the city and long island feed each other. However, the growth has become a little more one sided as more people are moving into the city as opposed to the reverse.
She also talked on efforts to create affordable housing and how neighborhood planning is a long-term effort for NYC. Ms. Lago would echo the idea of an interconnected region and how affordable housing with multi-modal elements on Long Island can benefit the City even while drawing population away from them.
The meeting ended with a panel that featured experts in both housing and regional growth from across the region. The panel included John Cameron of Cameron Engineering as well as Vison Long Island board member and Economic Director of the Hicksville Chamber of Commerce Lionel Chitty, who both spoke on the need for a focus on affordable development to keep young people in the region. They talked about the challenges of how Long Island can grow to meet the demands of the region while still holding onto its unique character. Job growth in both the City and local region is outpacing housing and that presents an opportunity for Long Island that it can either meet or cede to New Jersey and the Northern suburbs of NYC.
“Attitudes and perspectives need to change on Long Island,” said Mr. Chitty. This country, this Island, was built on development. Our current situation is a rare opportunity for strategic and proper growth. Job creation, appropriate housing and education, are essential aspects that need to be seriously considered moving forward. Our world is changing and it is our responsibility to develop for sustainability. We must have this conversation.”
The loss of Amazon’s second HQ was also a theme in the meeting, with both panelists and speakers noting that it will hurt their potential, but that it was necessary to move on. While there was some hope that Amazon could possibly be lured back, it would be detrimental to focus on the loss and instead see what can be learned from the exit. One common thread was the idea that communication is key and that we need to do a better job educating the public on benefits these big projects can provide
Garden City Chamber of Commerce Meets to Discuss Nassau HUB
Vision was out this week at the Garden City Chamber of Commerce lunch with chamber leaders surrounding the Nassau HUB and featuring RXR’s Scott Rechler and Town of Hempstead officials.
It was great to see multiple Town of Hempstead officials in the audience, including Senior Town Council members Dorothy Goosby, Erin King-Sweeney, Anthony D’Esposito, Ed Ambrosino, and Receiver of Taxes Don Clavin. Nassau Legislator Laura Schaefer was also in attendance.
Mr. Rechler presented his vision for the Nassau HUB Innovation District to a community that, in the past, has shown opposition to prior plans. The presentation was well received and he spoke at length about collaborating with the Town and County as well as local community leaders. Mr. Rechler also shared his views on the Amazon situation, an ongoing topic of discussion in the region.
“Where Amazon expected parades they got protests,” said Mr. Rechler. “There is an arrogance when you go into communities and not connect with people there. The City and State needed to explain the billions in tax revenue generated as opposed to simply the tax credits given. Lastly local interests with loud voices scared them away. On Long Island we have a time now not to be complacent and embrace change.”
Special thanks to Chamber President Michael Ventre for putting together a great program. Vision was happy to be out with East Meadow Chambers Frank Camarano. Stay tuned for results from future outreach meetings on the Nassau HUB.
Ronkonkoma Developers Scale Back Arena Proposal
Chicago-based Jones Lang Lasalle (JLL), the developers who won the bid for a proposed arena at the Ronkonkoma HUB, have scaled back the capacity of the proposed arena at the site.
The developers had originally hoped to lure an NHL team to the area but instead will set their sights on one of the AHL teams for the area. Instead of a 17,500 seat arena the site will feature a 7,500 seat arena alongside a 6,000 seat soccer stadium. The scaled back arena will still allow for multi-use as a center and, it is hoped, fit in better with the surrounding area.
“We think that size arena works well and fits the minor league profile,” said JLL Vice Chairman Trulson said. “There is a lot of value in that size as it pertains to entertainment … around Ronkonkoma. We’re also mindful of the other venues that are on or near Long Island from … [Madison Square Garden] all the way out."
The developers have also brought on former Islanders star and Hockey Hall of Famer Pat LaFontaine as a partner for the arena. He will work to secure the AHL team as an anchor tenant. He will also be tasked with seeking out a professional women’s hockey team as well as a men’s and women’s soccer team for the proposed development.
You can read more about Mr. Lafanotaine’s role at LIBN here.
Belmont Arena Construction Possibly Delayed
Due to an unprecedented number of letters and input received during the public comments period, the projected May start for construction of the Belmont Arena may be delayed until June.
As recently as February 21st, Empire State Development Officials had stated that the beginning of construction would happen in May, but an extended public comment period may have pushed that target back slightly. However, the EDC says that it has received thousands of comments on the draft Environmental Impact Study, which had been criticized heavily by local residents during recently held public hearings. Local community leaders are now predicting that the project will be further delayed.
The project had originally received support when a proposal for a full time LIRR station at the site was in the works. However, that mood soured when the draft environmental impact statement revealed that there would only be two trains available during arena events and the possibility for increased traffic on local roads increased. Since then both local civic groups and lawmakers have called for the project to either be delayed until the original plans for a full time station can be restored or cancelled altogether.
Now there are calls by NYC and Nassau officials for additional traffic studies, which could add further delays. The project is also causing NYC and Nassau County to update their own traffic studies while local lawmakers and residents have called the ESD’s released traffic study “severely lacking.”
You can read more here.
National Grid looks for support on Northeast Supply Enhancement Project
National Grid is reaching out to ask for letters of support concerning the Northeast Supply Enhancement Project (NESE).
Williams Transco is developing, at National Grid’s request, an expansion tothe existing Transco natural gas pipeline system. The project will provide National Grid access to an additional 400 million cubic feet of natural gas per day to meet the company’s growing energy demand in time for the 2020/2021 winter heating season. The project will add energy infrastructure in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York to the existing pipeline system in the Floyd Bennet Field area in Brooklyn. There is no other work required in the New York region.
Now they are reaching out to stakeholders looking for support so as to get approval to move forward. The NESE project is extremely critical to support our infrastructure, and avoids us from facing a moratorium on gas expansion in the future.
You can file a comment on the project by doing the following:
1. Go to www.ferc.gov > Documents & Filings > eComment https://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/ecomment.asp
You can read more on the NESE Project here.
Complete Streets Summit to be held on March 29th
The 7th Annual Complete Streets Summit is scheduled to be held on Friday, March 29th from 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM at the Sustainability Institute at Molloy College.
The event is held annually by the Complete Streets Coalition in an effort to coordinate planning efforts, identify funding opportunities, act as a clearinghouse for information, and create a coherent message to help with lobbying efforts in Albany. The event gathers experts from across the transportation world who will present and discuss what is currently underway as well as future efforts.
LICH to hold Annual Vigil for the Homeless on April 2nd
Long Island Coalition for the Homeless will hold its annual vigil for the homeless on the April 2nd, 2019, from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at Farmingdale State College’s Roosevelt Hall, located at 2350 Broadhollow Road in Farmingdale.
Join the Long Island Coalition for the Homeless, invited guests, members of the community, and others as they raise awareness about homelessness and poverty on Long Island. This annual event combines an Information Fair about essential programs and services available on Long Island, free health screenings and health management information; free haircuts; activities for the kids: face painting, magicians, story time; and the distribution of essential items to those in need.
There will be a brief candle lighting ceremony in remembrance of those who have been lost due to homelessness and poverty, hear stories of challenge and triumph, and combat the stigma of poverty.
The event is free. All funds raised through this event go to support the Vigil and the Long Island Coalition for the Homeless’ important work for homeless and at risk Long Islanders.
Nassau County OHCD Accepting Applications for Funding under HOME Program
Nassau County’s Office of Housing and Community Development is currently accepting applications for funding under its federal HUD HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) Program.
The HUD HOME Program can provide incentives to develop and support affordable rental and homeownership housing through:
HOME funds can be targeted to affordable units in mixed-income developments to lower the overall development costs associated with the production of affordable housing. Nassau County OHCD particularly encourages applications for the development of new rental housing in “high opportunity areas” in close proximity to public transportation options and in areas with high performing school districts.
Additional information on income and rent limitations can be found in the “Library Tab” of their on-line application. The link also incudes a copy of the County’s HOME Program Guidelines, a list of Funding Priorities and other Program-related forms.
Be sure to complete the Pre-Application by March 22nd to ensure your application is considered this funding round!
Follow the link to our On-Line ZOOM Grants HOME Program Funding Application here.
GTSC Issues RFA for Federal Highway Safety Grants
The Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) is issuing a Request for Application (RFA) to solicit applications from state agencies, local governments and not-for-profit agencies for Federal Highway Safety grants. This proposal requires applicants to submit a narrative outline of the problem with supporting data, details of the proposed activities with milestones and an evaluation plan.
Proposals must address one of the program areas included in the state’s Highway Safety Strategic Plan, which can be found online here. Program areas considered for the general Highway Safety Grant funding include: occupant protection; traffic enforcement; motorcycle safety; traffic records; community programs; programs that impact our younger drivers or older drivers; pedestrian safety; roadway safety and impaired driving.
St. Patrick’s Day Comes to Long Island Downtowns
As you’re out enjoying this weekend’s festivities for St. Patrick’s Day, please celebrate responsibly, but consider doing so in one of Long Island’s local downtowns where there will be plenty of festivities taking place. You can check out a list of some going on here.
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