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March 24th - 30th, 2018


Regional Updates

Zyscovitch Architects

For nearly forty years, Zyscovich Architects has strived to create projects with purpose, bringing new life and vibrancy to cityscapes through integrated urban planning, architecture and interior design. To this day, Zyscovich Architects has remained true to the original concept: design projects that have purpose and meaning. Since the firm’s inception in 1977, the goal has always been to establish a company that can provide high-value services for design-specific issues while placing “social betterment” at the core of everything they do. 

Zyscovich Architects has designed the full spectrum of projects, from transportation facilities and airports to K-12 schools and universities, mixed-use commercial and public-private partnership developments to multi-family residential high rises and master plans for cities. 

"I am very pleased that the Restore New York Communities Initiative has awarded $1 million to the Baldwin community. This grant breathes new life and exciting expectations into the long awaited revitalization of Grand Avenue." - New York State Assemblyman Brian Curran

 

“I am delighted at the news that Baldwin has received this $1 Million dollar Restore New York grant. These funds will be incredibly helpful to attract new economic activity and business to the Baldwin community. Revitalizing downtowns is a top priority for me as Town Councilwoman, and I thank our State officials for their commitment to long term growth in Hempstead Town.” - Hempstead Town Board Member Erin King-Sweeney

“The Baldwin Civic Association is encouraged by this latest round of funding and Grant. It shows the commitment of the government of the Town of Hempstead and New York State to this project of revitalizing downtown Baldwin.” - Karen Montalbano, President of the Civic Association.

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Baldwin Awarded $1 Million State Grant for Revitalization Efforts

This past week saw Baldwin awarded a $1 million grant for downtown revitalization as part of the Restore New York Communities Initiative.

The grant is part of round 5 of the Initiative and was awarded by Empire State Development, which is responsible for distribution.  The funds from this grant will be used to demolish 12 buildings along Grand Ave and build a mixed-use development.  The new development will feature retail, office, and residential space capable of housing 200 students or 100 multifamily units. 

"I am very pleased that the Restore New York Communities Initiative has awarded $1 million to the Baldwin community,” said 21st District Assemblyman Brian Curran.  “This grant breathes new life and exciting expectations into the long awaited revitalization of Grand Avenue."

This comes after 15 years of efforts to update the downtown, an effort that has been spearheaded by the Baldwin Civic Association in recent years.  Process has begun to pick up lately as Nassau County, aided by the Civic and VHB with Vision Long Island as a sub consultant, has been working to gather community feedback on what can be done to battle blight in the area.  An economic and storm resiliency plan was adopted in recent years thanks to these efforts. 

Last year also saw the Hempstead Town Board award a contract for the redevelopment process to Basser-Kaufman in Woodmere, and the Engel Burman Group in Garden City.  Those developers are currently in negotiations to acquire the necessary buildings and lots on Grand Ave, but eminent domain has not been ruled out.  This comes as the Baldwin Civic, along with a lot of the same players from the resiliency plan, have worked on a study on how to make Grand Ave pedestrian friendly.

Town of Hempstead Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney, who serves the Baldwin district, said “I am delighted at the news that Baldwin has received this $1 Million dollar Restore New York grant. These funds will be incredibly helpful to attract new economic activity and business to the Baldwin community. Revitalizing downtowns is a top priority for me as Town Councilwoman, and I thank our State officials for their commitment to long term growth in Hempstead Town.”

“The Baldwin Civic Association is encouraged by this latest round of funding and Grant. It shows the commitment of the government of the Town of Hempstead and New York State to this project of revitalizing downtown Baldwin.” said Karen Montalbano, President of the Civic Association.

Democratic officials held a press conference earlier in the week announcing the grant including NYS Senator Todd Kaminsky, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, Town of Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen and Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby. Vision Long Island has joined the Civic in Albany to lobby for revitalization funds for the community, and has been assisting in the planning of different upcoming projects. We are encouraged to see the progress and funding support from NYS. Special thanks to the NYS ESD and the Governor’s office for this Important grant award.

You can read more here.

Town of Hempstead Approves Speed Limit Reduction on Austin Blvd

The Hempstead Town Board has unanimously approved a speed reduction from 40 mph to 30 mph along Austin Blvd in Island Park.

The change comes as concerns for pedestrians and students crossing the street is on the rise with the local communities.  Various community members as well as Island Park Superintendent Dr. Rosemarie Bovino and School Board President Jack Vobis expressed appreciation at the change aimed at safety. 

“It’s a horrible situation for the victims,” Bovino said. “But it’s also a very horrible situation for the children who we have to bring in from the fields to have these individuals airlifted.”

Other community members called the vote insufficient, stating that while the road is dangerous the problem stems from a lack of enforcement for safety laws.  Reckless drivers and texting were most often cited as reasons for accidents with a call for an increased police presence along the road.  Opponents also noted that the County is in the midst of planning for changes to the road that may help with traffic calming.

While construction is slated to begin later this year, the speed reduction was mostly met with praise, with Town Councilman Anthony D’Esposito stating that safety is a top priority for the Town and the move will literally save lives.

You can read more here.

Amityville Mulls Transit Zone to Encourage Development

The Village of Amityville is currently looking at the possibility of creating a transit-oriented zone to help spur development.

The Village is considering making the change in response to a proposal for a set of luxury apartments looking to create 115 multifamily rental units on 2.4 acres in downtown Amityville.  However, current zoning does not allow for the proposed number of units per acre in the Village. 

The newly proposed zone would apply to 48 acres of property surrounding the LIRR station.  To apply, the property would need to be within the zoned area, be zoned for industrial use, and exceed 1.5 acres.  Buildings could not exceed 38 feet high and have a maximum density of 35 units per acre.  However, developers could exchange incentives for density, such as creating parking space or making improvements to local infrastructure.  The district would also require developers to adhere to state law and allocate 10% of units as affordable workforce housing.

Amityville Mayor Dennis Siry has spoken positively about the possibility of the apartments, calling it a “boost in the arm” for the Village.  The project is also another step in Amityville’s revitalization and, it is hoped, will drive new business and residents to the area.

You can read more here.

Argyle Theater to Reopen in Babylon Village

A father and son team in the Village of Babylon are working to restore and reopen the historic Argyle Theater in the heart of downtown Babylon Village.

Located at 34 West Main Street, the 1920’s era theater was shuttered a few years ago with an uncertain future for the downtown staple.  That was until recently, when Mark Perlman and his son Dylan purchased the 500-seat theater and set about renovating the building.  Since then there has been a buzz in the community as it draws closer to completion, with a tentative Spring date set for opening.

A new foundation has been laid for the building as well as a three-story backstage and a new orchestra pit that can house more than 20 musicians.  A state of the art lighting system has also been installed.  The Perlmans are currently planning to bring in professional Broadway actors to perform in live shows.  The venue will also host comedy specials, concerts, special events, children’s theater, summer camps, theater classes, and more.

The owners are also hoping to accentuate on the unique feel of a 1920’s style theater that comes from the building itself.  "The hope is that when people come here they will feel like they're coming to an old fashioned Broadway theater," said Mark Perlman. "There's no point in trying to turn it into something contemporary, there are enough of those theaters around over the place to come in and have almost a museum experience and at the same time see a great show."

The exact opening date has not been set, but the first show will be a Donna Summer Disco tribute, currently set for April 21st.

You can read more here.

Long Island Business Leaders and Lawmakers call for Internet Sales Tax

Vision Long Island board members and staff attended a press conference in downtown Lindenhurst this week in order to promote a proposal to bring internet sales tax revenues to Long Island.

The event was also attended by members of the LI Lobby Coalition, Suffolk and Nassau County Chamber Organizations, LI Business Council, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, and Nassau County Executive Laura Curran in downtown Lindenhurst.  Vision was happy to see unity from the small business leaders as well as the County Executives working towards leveling the playing field for brick and mortar stores that assist our local economy.

Under current law online marketplaces are only required to pay sales tax if the seller is located within the state.  This loophole allows major online providers like eBay or Amazon to operate tax-free for sellers outside of New York.  This has allowed online sellers to consistently undercut local mom and pop stores on pricing, giving them an unfair and ongoing advantage.

“This government sanctioned preference for out-of-state vendors exacerbates the already significant challenges posed by normal marketplace considerations,” wrote members of the Lobby Day Coalition in a letter supporting the bill. “It is time to fix the flaw and eliminate preferential treatment for out-of-state vendors who add nothing to our state and local economies.”

This issue is a top item for the 100 organization LI Lobby Coalition in Albany this year and it is hoped that the legislature will include it in the NYS budget or as a standalone legislative item soon after.  The move would be necessary to bring needed revenue back to our region and to help stabilize our local economy and municipal services.  A fiscal analyses in 2017 from the Government Accountability Board estimated that New York is missing out on anywhere between $500 million and $900 million annually due to internet sales.

Special thanks to Suffolk County Alliance of Chambers, Gina Coletti, LIBC’s Bob Fonti, Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce, current President Francesca Carlow, past President Julie Marchesella​​, and Michael Harrison for their work on this issue.  We would also like to thank Lindenhurst trustee and business owner Maryann Wekerle for hosting the event.

You can read more here and here.

County Executive Laura Curran Calls for New Nassau HUB Committee

The incoming Nassau County leadership is now focusing on the Nassau HUB and Coliseum redevelopment once again. This will be the fourth administration in the last 25 years that has made efforts at planning the 77 acre property.

Progress has been made over the previous three administrations.  The Tom Gulotta administration secured Federal grants to do an MIS study for future transportation opportunities, the Tom Suozzi administration created excitement around the privately planned proposed and then defeated Lighthouse project, and the Ed Mangano administration secured a $70 million dollar economic development grant to construct parking on the site.  Mangano’s efforts also locked in Sloane Kettering for a newly built facility and had the Ratner organization renovate the Coliseum at no cost to the taxpayers.

In spite of these successes, all three administrations also experienced a set of failures through the years as well. The early efforts lacked public input and, until the last administration, lots of press conferences occurred but no grant funding was applied or secured for the site.  More recent plans have lacked the innovation of creating a true destination at the site.

There has been consensus along the way, though, with the former Lighthouse project holding two public hearings with over 1,000 supporters at each.  Two separate Hofstra-News 12 polls at the time showed 2-1 support for the project.  200 public meetings with local community and business leaders laid the groundwork for this type of support.

The Town of Hempstead, however, received no infrastructure investment from the County for the project and was forced to cut the Lighthouse project in half, effectively killing the project. They did approve an overlay district code for the HUB as part of the process, which allowed 500 units of housing, but was designed in a very not walkable fashion.  There are now opportunities to take a second look at that code to make substantive changes with community input.

Now the Laura Curran administration has been vocal at considering housing at the site and has charged a newly formed Nassau HUB committee. Vision’s Placemaking Director Elissa Kyle was named to the HUB committee along with local and regional business and labor leaders.

Vision’s Director weighed in with CBS on the importance of reuniting around an updated plan for the HUB that is driven by the local community and not simply one developer’s vision.  You can view that report for CBS New York here.

Executive Laura Curran Delivers 2018 Nassau State of the County

This past Wednesday saw the first Nassau State of the County delivered by Executive Laura Curran.

The speech included a wide range of subjects and challenges currently facing the County.  She began the speech by laying out three pillars of her approach to Nassau County: Ethics in government, fiscal integrity, and economic growth.  Of particular interest was the Nassau’s plans to grow local economies through development.

A big part of that development is the Nassau HUB, during which she announced a committee that would look into the future of the project as a transit oriented development.  The County Executive also mentioned several other projects such as the Belmont stadium development (though that project will require more community consensus), a new $45 million police academy, and various other downtown initiatives in the region.

During the speech she touched on a wide array of issues that include ethics reforms, property tax assessments, response to the Nor’easters that have hit since she took office, community and police efforts to address the opioid epidemic, school safety, the Bay Park sewage project, and funding for youth programs and bus routes.

You can read more here and here.

MTA Announces Improvement Plan for LIRR

This past Monday the MTA released a performance improvement plan aimed at cutting down cancellations, delays, and disruptions for the LIRR.

At the meeting announcing the plan, LIRR President Patrick Nowakowski accepted responsibility for the ongoing problems for the beleaguered rail service.  He also laid out a 60-point plan that was developed in order to fix those problems.  Solutions include purchasing additional equipment for snow removal, upgrading and modernizing equipment, and displaying digital countdown clocks for train arrivals at stations, among others. 

The proposed plan is estimated to cost between $15 million and $20 million with around three quarters of the cost going towards expanded labor.  This includes new signal workers stationed at key locations at all times in order to better respond to issues that are delaying service.  The final quarter of the cost will be for contracts for new services and technology such as third rail heaters and track switch covers.

MTA Board member Scott Rechler expressed optimism at some of the ideas to come out of the meeting, but was generally disappointed by the plan, which he called unnecessarily complicated.  He also noted that there may be difficulties getting riders on board with the changes if outreach cannot be improved.  "We are at historically poor performance for the LIRR,” said Mr. Rechler.  “And if we can't communicate a well-thought-out, easy-to-understand plan to our customers, they are not going to believe we are doing anything.”

To help address the communications issue the LIRR will be conducting monthly telephone surveys as well as face-to-face sessions attended by railroad management officials.  This will include a “LIRR Listens Tour,” with one session already being held in Penn Station and another being planned for Jamaica in the near future.

You can read more here and here.

Suffolk County Alliance of Chambers Holds Quarterly Meeting

Vision Long Island Board Members and staff were out this week assisting the Suffolk Alliance of Chambers with their quarterly meeting in Patchogue.

Over 75 members attended the meeting to hear from Peter Butaglia, CPA from the Huntington Chamber, cover the new tax law, Michael Ogus from BNB Bank tackling small business financing and Josh Bienstock from NYIT speaking on Chamber retention.  Suffolk County Economic Development staff also expressed that they were able to assist local businesses.

Suffolk County Comptroller John Kennedy also spoke, giving a thorough economic message on sales tax and hotel motel tax enforcement, technological improvements in the Comptrollers office and Suffolk County and other revenue savings.  Updates were also made on lobbying efforts in Albany, with the LI Lobby Coalition bringing internet sales tax and the small business savings accounts issues forward along with funding for Suffolk County Bus and the NYS DRI.

We were encouraged to see nearly 25 local chambers join the meeting including: Bayport Blue Point Chamber, Copiague Chamber, East Quogue Chamber, Farmingville Hills Chamber, Huntington Chamber, Kings Park Chamber, Lake Grove Chamber, Lindenhurst Chamber, MacArthur Business Association, Middle Country Road Chamber, Nesconset Chamber, Northport Chamber, Patchogue Chamber, Port Jefferson Chamber, Riverhead Chamber, Ronkonkoma Chamber, Smithtown Chamber, Southampton Business Alliance, West Babylon Chamber, Westhampton Beach Chamber, Greater Brookhaven Chamber, LI Hispanic Chamber, Salvadorian American Chamber and the East End Tourism Alliance.

Regional supporters and attendees included People’s United Bank, NYIT, BNB Bank, SBA, Suffolk County, Vision Long Island, Suffolk Legislator Leslie Kennedy and representatives from the Office of NYS Senator Tom Croci.

Congratulations to Suffolk Chamber Co-Chairs Gina Coletti and Bob Fonti for organizing a great meeting and to David Kennedy from the Patchogue Chamber and the Patchogue Theatre for hosting.

Nassau IDA Gets New Board Members

Vision Long Island was at the Nassau Legislature earlier this week in support of recent appointments to the Nassau IDA Board that passed unanimously.

The new-look board will feature four new members, nominated by Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, and three holdovers from the previous County Executive.  Vision was happy to see former LIPA and NYPA chair Richie Kessel lead the board along with holdovers Tim Williams and Chris Fusco.  The changes come at a time of increasing unhappiness with the board due to funding for projects considered unworthy of such financial help such as auto dealerships and self-storage units. 

However, there has been consensus on TOD and downtown projects that received PILOTS at numerous local public hearings.  This includes 14 TOD and downtown projects in the past 4 years alone, which produced over 1200 units of housing, 231 units of affordable housing 400 jobs and 350 million into our local economy.  These community supported projects were in Farmingdale, Westbury, Hicksville, Mineola, Great Neck Plaza and New Cassel.  Prior to that, administrations had never worked to bring these types of projects to downtowns.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran previously noted at the LI Smart Growth Summit and subsequent meetings that her administration was looking to put new policies in place, but has also expressed ongoing support for downtown redevelopment and TOD’s.

The new board will consist of Richard Kessel, former head of the Long Island Power Authority and the state Power Authority, and past member of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority; Timothy Williams, IDA board chairman since 2012 and risk management vice president at Santander Bank; John Coumatos, IDA board member since 2012, owner of B.K. Sweeney’s restaurant in Bethpage and Bethpage water commissioner; Amy Flores, affordable lending manager at People’s United Bank; Christopher Fusco, IDA board member since 2008, former leader of the carpenters union, and labor relations official for County Executive Edward Mangano; Anthony Simon, leader of the largest LIRR union; Lewis M. Warren, managing director for government banking at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in Manhattan.

You can read more here.

Please Join us for the 2018 Complete Streets Summit on Thursday, April 5th

The Long Island Complete Streets Coalition will be holding the 2018 Complete Streets Summit on Thursday, April 5th. The event will feature a robust agenda of speakers and discussion on how to create streets that are not just safe, but also attractive, interesting, and built for people, can help improve our well-being and quality of life.

While last year’s summit focused on the top five roads that are “hot spots” for crashes, this year we are widening our net to look at locations all across Long Island that are dangerous for those on foot or on a bicycle. Whether it is an entire stretch of road, or just a specific intersection, we will draw attention to places around the island that need to be improved in order to make our streets safe for all users. Currently we aren’t even reaching the most basic level of safety in many places which is the most fundamental aspect of walkability. Beyond basic levels of safety, many of our streets in and around our downtowns have the potential to be so much more than they are. Streets make up the majority of publicly owned space in many communities. Creating streets that are also places, streets with “Walk Appeal,” can add value to communities for both businesses and residents.

Please contact us at 631-261-0242 for more information. You can register for the event here.

Sustainability Institute to Screen The Age of Consequences on Wednesday, April 11th

The Sustainability Institute at Molloy College is proud to announce and invite you to our 23rd Sustainable Living Film Series screening on Wednesday April 11th, 2018 from 6:00 - 9:30pm. ***The film series is typically hosted on Thursdays, but please note that this screening is being held on a Wednesday***

RSVP REQUIRED before event day.

$10 admission in advance. $15 at the door. Purchase tickets here. Admission includes the film, buffet dinner, and discussion following the film. All are welcome, so share this event and invite friends and family.

Long Island Business Council to Hold Meeting Thursday, April 12th

The Long Island Business Council will hold a meeting on Thursday, April 12th to discuss important prorgams and initiatives in both Counties. The meeting will feature Presiding Officers Richard Nicolello of the Nassau County Legislature and DuWayne Gregory of Suffolk County Legislature. John Keating of PSEG Long Island will also speak on the new energy company's new Vacant Properties and Main Street Revitalization programs. Nassau County Executive Laura Curran will give welcoming remarks at the event as well.

To RSVP or for more information you can download a flyer here, call 877-811-7471, or email ck@visionlongisland.org.

Car-Less Long Island to Host 3rd Annual Bike-to-Work Parade on Saturday, April 28th

On April 28th, Car-Less Long Island will be hosting its 3rd Annual Bike-to-Work Parade along a 6.5 mile loop around Eisenhower Park that will begin and end at Hofstra’s North Campus.  There will be a police escort for safe riding. (See the map of bike route here and map of Hofstra here). There is a 1.9-mile walking route for those who want to see a more walk-able and bike-able Long Island, but do not want to bike themselves or are not ready to bike a 6.5 mile loop. There is also a short cut to a 1.5-mile route. (See a map of the full and short walking routes here. You can also see it on the Hofstra campus map here).  After the parade will be the bike to work festival with music, speakers, prizes, and fun for the whole family!

For more information on how to register, a flyer for the event, instructions on how to volunteer, and more, you can visit here.

Uber Driver Steered Wrong by GPS

In a case of technology failing us in more ways than one, an Uber driver recently took a wrong turn and ended up on a set of stairs in San Francisco’s Maret Street.  The driver claimed he made the turn after being told by Uber’s GPS system that it was a legitimate turn.  Thankfully no one was injured, but the situation did go from bad to worse when the winch being used to pull it off the stairs snapped and caused the vehicle to crash into a garbage can and nearby fire hydrant.

You can read more here.

Smart Talk

Editor:
Christopher Kyle, Communications Director

Contributors:
Eric Alexander, Director; Tawaun Weber, Assistant Director;
Elissa Kyle, Planning Director; Jon Siebert, Program Coordinator

We strive to provide continued quality publications like this every week. If you have any news or events that you would like to add to our newsletter, submit them to info@visionlongisland.org for consideration.

If you are interested in becoming a newsletter or news blast sponsor, please call the office at 631-261-0242 for rates and opportunities.

Vision Long Island
24 Woodbine Ave., Suite Two
Northport, NY 11768
Phone: 631-261-0242. Fax: 631-754-4452.
Email: info@visionlongisland.org

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