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July 14th - 20th, 2018

Regional Updates

GRCH Architecture

GRCH Architecture Principal Glen R. Cherveny leads a highly successful team of industry professionals with more than 30 years of experience in architecture, design, planning, engineering, and more recently LEED-sustainable architecture.

GRCH’s goal of excellence is apparent in their work starting with their high-quality practices in the initial phases of programming and continuing on through the building construction phase and project completion. Their comprehensive approach to each project- and the needs of meeting each client’s total satisfaction - is paramount to the process.

"We're not declaring war on Amazon, Wayfare and Overstock, or any other e-commerce platform. We're not enemies, we're competitors. Some of us, at times, are even customers. We are talking, from business person to business person, and saying: It's the right time to do the right thing." - Bob Fonti, Co-Chair of the Long Island Business Council, speaking on the need for fair internet sales tax laws


“Long Island’s cost of living is high and when dollars are spent shopping online with out-of-state vendors, there is a big negative impact on our local economy. We all think it’s way past time for e-commerce platforms like Amazon, Wayfair and Overstock to comply with the Supreme Court decision. They should immediately begin collecting and remitting sales taxes on all transactions.” - Francesca Carlow, President of the Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce

“When the local toy store, hardware store, sporting goods store or jewelry store stays in business, it uses the local accountant, insurance agent, maybe even lawyer, and more.” - Gina Coletti, Co-Chair of the Suffolk County Alliance of Chambers

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Small Businesses Call for Fair Internet Tax Laws on Amazon Prime Day

The Suffolk County Alliance of Chambers, Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce, Long Island Business Council, Long Island Lobby Coalition, Vision Long Island, P.C. Richard & Son and other businesses stood up on behalf of Long Island’s bedrock Main Street businesses on Amazon Prime Day.

"We're not declaring war on Amazon, Wayfair and Overstock, or any other e-commerce platform," said Long Island Business Council co-chair Bob Fonti. "We're not enemies, we're competitors. Some of us, at times, are even customers. We are talking, from business person to business person, and saying: It's the right time to do the right thing."

Despite the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision affirming the constitutionality of state laws mandating the collection and remittance of sales taxes on most online purchases, the lack of existing state legislation will severely hamper New York State’s ability to collect appropriate sales taxes on out-of-state online purchases. This means the continued inability for the State and localities to recoup lost sales tax revenues, and perpetuating the government sanction preference for out-of-state businesses over Long Island and New York State businesses with respect to sales tax collection and remittance.

“Long Island’s cost of living is high and when dollars are spent shopping online with out-of-state vendors, there is a big negative impact on our local economy," said Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce President Francesca Carlow. "We all think it’s way past time for e-commerce platforms like Amazon, Wayfair and Overstock to comply with the Supreme Court decision. They should immediately begin collecting and remitting sales taxes on all transactions.”

Vision reiterated our call for the needed State legislation, and called on prominent e-tailers such as Amazon, Wayfair and to voluntarily and immediately act to comply with the spirit of the Court’s decision and conform with existing State sales tax structures and standards in advance of the inevitable passage of State legislation.

“When the local toy store, hardware store, sporting goods store or jewelry store stays in business, it uses the local accountant, insurance agent, maybe even lawyer, and more,” said Gina Coletti, co-chair of the Suffolk County Alliance of Chambers.

“The lack of existing state legislation will severely hamper New York State’s ability to collect appropriate sales taxes on out-of-state online purchases,” said Vision Director Eric Alexander.  “This means the continued inability for the state and localities to recoup lost sales tax revenues, and perpetuating the government sanction preference for out-of-state businesses over Long Island and New York State businesses with respect to sales tax collection and remittance.”

Businesses in attendance included PC Richard & Son, Brands Cycle & Fitness, Fun Stuff Toys, Lighting Gallery, TRIO Hardware, Costello’s ACE, Queen of Hearts, Gennaro Jewelers, World Gym, Mid Island Y, Evan’s Army Navy Store, Ken Jacobsen LPL Financial, Susan M. Martin CPA, PC, AG Electrical Supply Company, CFS- Mainstreet Financial, Andrew M. Lamkin Esq., MRG Marketing, Don Ingram CPA, Nassau Financial Credit Union, ShopRite, Bayview Florist, and Axcelsior LLC.

Chambers and organizations in attendance included Levittown Chamber of Commerce, Plainview- Old Bethpage Chamber of Commerce, Long Island African American Chamber of Commerce, Long Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Massapequa Chamber of Commerce, Merrick Chamber of Commerce, Seaford Chamber of Commerce, Hicksville Chamber of Commerce, Bellmore Chamber of Commerce, Great Neck Chamber of Commerce, and the East Meadow Chamber of Commerce.

Recent collective efforts have included pressing this issue at this year’s State of the State in January, LI Lobby Day in March, a press conference with both County Executives in Lindenhurst in May, and this call to action.  Future lobby efforts and rallies are being planned and, most importantly, everyone continues their efforts to SHOP LOCAL.

You can read or watch coverage of this event here, here, and here.

Suffolk County Legislature Approves 10 Miles of “Rails to Trails”

The Suffolk County Legislature approved bonding for the 10 mile Port Jefferson-Wading River "Rails to Trails" project this week, which is supported by Vision.

The Rails to Trails project was introduced in 2001 by advocates of the Setauket-Port Jefferson Greenway Trail.  Assemblyman Steve Englebright along with Friends of the Greenway’s Herb Mones worked in the beginning to get the project off the ground.  They were supported by Vision Long Island and a number of local community groups, who have for over 15 years to see this project realized.

The project is funded by approximately $10 million in Federal and State grant monies, with a $500,000 match from Suffolk County.  The trail will run along an abandoned LIRR right-of-way which is presently owned by LIPA. One person spoke in opposition to the project at the legislative meeting, with over 20 in support.

This project will provide not only opportunities for active recreation along the north shore, it will also provide an opportunity for active transportation to Port Jefferson Station, downtown Rocky Point, the Tesla Science Center and other destinations along its length. Increasing the number of opportunities for walking and cycling as transportation options reduces our automobile dependence and traffic. It also improves our physical and mental health, all of which improve our overall quality of life.

Great job to Legislator Anker and community members and organizations for their advocacy, and to Congressman Zeldin for assistance in bringing funding down from the federal level.

You can read more here.

Demand for Rentals on Long Island Continues to Outpace Development

Across the Island, new rental apartment complexes are opening up in downtowns and getting filled almost as quickly in the last year.

The Cornerstone, a past Smart Growth Award winner, just recently celebrated its grand opening in Farmingdale. The development is already 100% occupied with a waiting list, and is in contract to be sold for $15.55 million.  This is just part of the 13,000 multifamily units that have been built in the last 12 years.  However, it still doesn’t add up to enough rentals to satisfy the number of people looking for them.

Rentals comprise approximately 20% of the total housing stock on Long Island compared to an average of around 40% for comparable areas around the nation.  While doubling available housing stock is a lofty goal, there are many obstacles as well such as limited land and the availability of that land to build on.  There is also the usually-onerous approval process for these sorts of developments coupled with community pushback.  However, more communities have become comfortable with the idea of these types of developments.

“For 87 of the last 95 public hearings for downtown multifamily projects, there have been approvals, and for 84 of those hearings, there was more public support than opposition,” according to Vision Long Island’s Director Eric Alexander. “When you work with the public from the bottom up planning those projects, there is more community support.”

An unfortunate side effect of the low supply versus demand has been an upward pressure on prices for rentals.  This is further compounded by the fact that rentals are usually credit-driven.  This has served to create a more high-end market for this first wave of rental housing, which is especially true in more desirable communities such as downtowns with a wide array of amenities. 

However, it is expected that the next wave of apartments will begin to bring prices down to a more moderate range.  Beyond the fact that supply will increase with the more than 10,000 units currently making their way through planning or approval processes, the need for larger apartments and more storage is changing in an increasingly digital and streamlined society. 

“Millennials are a different group with a different set of needs,” said Mr. Alexander.  “Particularly in a downtown with a lot of amenities – like Rockville Centre, which has 100 restaurants – millennials may be eating out all the time or getting takeout and they don’t need a big kitchen.”

You can read more here.

EmPower Solar Celebrates 2,000 Installs in the Region

Island Park’s EmPower Solar recently celebrated the milestone installation of 2,000 solar systems across the region this past Friday.  The milestone was celebrated at an Island Park client’s home with NYS Senator Todd Kaminsky, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, LIPA Chief Executive Officer Tom Falcone, and Island Park Mayor Michael McGinty in attendance. 

Since 2003, EmPower Solar has installed a range of systems from residential to commercial and was responsible for the first residential install on Long Island.  The company has deployed 23 megawatts of solar energy from Long Island to New York City to Westchester.  They are responsible for 200 solar systems as well as 100 battery storage projects across New York as well, helping to reach Governor Cuomo’s stated goal of 50% renewable energy by 2030.

The milestone installation itself is a 10.5 kW solar array consisting of 30 SunPower 350-watt panels and two Tesla Powerwalls that will offset 104% of the home’s annual energy needs.  The home itself was hit hard by Superstorm Sandy and was recently raised as part of storm-proofing efforts. 

“Our home was devastated by Superstorm Sandy, and we are finally reaching the end of our renovations and storm-proofing,” said Robert Logan, the milestone installation’s homeowner. “We knew that it was important to install solar and batteries to keep our power on in the case of another severe weather event and intentionally chose the most trusted company on Long Island to execute. Our experience with EmPower Solar was so easy and painless, we wish we had another house to install solar on!"

EmPower Solar is currently in its 15th year of business with 70 full-time employees.  The company is estimated to have saved its clients over $15 million in energy costs over the years and has also deployed over 20 electric vehicle charging stations.

You can read the full press release here.

New Campaign wants Food Shoppers to ‘Choose LI’

A collaboration of local groups and government organizations are uniting to encourage consumers to commit 10% of food spending to purchase local produce.

Officially labeled “Choose LI – Local & Independent,” the campaign is specifically targeting the amount of $17.60, 10% of the $176 average Long Island food bill.  The result of such a move could be as much as $33 in local economic activity and create up to 1,000 agriculture-related jobs in the region.  All this helps to firm up a local industry, increasing the economic strength of the region.

A website,, allows consumers to pledge to spend the requested 10% to local products and food.  There is also a map that inventories where local items are available such as farm stands, fish markets, vineyards, breweries, etc.  Another feature alerts consumers as to which products are in season and more likely to be available.  The group is also working with local businesses to promote the initiative through social media to encourage customers to stay with the pledge.

Groups forming the collaborative include Suffolk County, the Long Island Farm Bureau, Long Island Commercial Fishing Association, Long Island Wine Council, Peconic Land Trust, Discover Long Island, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, Island Harvest, Long Island Food Council, NY Sea Grant, and NYS Agriculture and Markets.  So far, 11 businesses have partnered with the group, HOG Farm, Haskell’s Seafood,, Milk Pail Fresh Market, Southold Bay Oysters, Lenny Bruno Farms, Three Village Farmers Market, Sacred Gardens, Jamesport Farm Brewery, Gabrielsen’s Country Plant Farm and North Fork Chocolate Company.

“The initiative, which is expected to create nearly 1,000 local jobs will have a positive impact on the region, which, in turn, may help many Long Islanders transition from uncertainty to stability, thus ensuring that this important project can be part of the solution to help end hunger on LI,” said Randi Shubin Dresner, president, and CEO, Island Harvest Food Bank.

You can read more here.

H2M Conducts Study Showing $7 to $10 Million in Cost for St. James Sewers

Smithtown officials are now reviewing a report from Melville-based H2M Architects + Engineers that says it will cost between $7 and $10 million for the Town to install modern sewers in St. James.

The firm reviewed the projected costs of installing dry sewer mains and pump stations needed to build a sewer district for the Lake Ave area of St. James.  The report estimated nearly $2 million would be necessary for the Lake Ave and Route 25A intersection, including funds for curb-to-curb restoration.

There were also two plans considered for sewering the 18 properties that run along North Country Road/Route 25A from the LIRR tracks to Clinton Ave.  The first suggestion was a $3.8 million plan to install gravity sewers, a force main, and a pump station to force the sewage to the treatment plant, but that plan did not include full road restoration.  The second plan, which did include the restoration, would cost approximately $6.2 million.

Smithtown officials will now forward the cost to NYS Senator John Flanagan’s office, which will begin to look into securing grant funding to help cover the costs.  A likely source of funding will be New York’s Clean Water Infrastructure Act, signed into law just last year, which provides money for drinking water infrastructure and groundwater protection.

The estimated cost is also informed by the premise that Gyrodyne, LLC will create a sewage treatment plant with enough capacity to accommodate the Lake Ave businesses.  Gyrodyne has been in discussions since this spring about the possibility of a plant, and announced the intention to pursue the possibility to shareholders in a meeting in late June.

You can read more here.

Surveys Show Trust in Autonomous Vehicles is Low, But Benefits May be High

Two recent polls conducted by insurance firm Esurance show that while a large number of motorists remain skeptical of self-driving vehicles, financial and safety benefits may be high with them.

One of the polls showed that safety was the primary concern surrounding the vehicles.  That such technology could lead to fewer deaths and make roads safer for pedestrians and cyclists who share the road with motorists.  The report did stress that the technology is still new and innovative, and noted that the number of autonomous cars on the road is expected to rise sharply in the next 8 years.

The report also showed that the cost savings could be high for a family that ditches their vehicles in favor of autonomous ridesharing programs.  Such a move could net an estimated $4,100 a year in savings.  This represents a best-case scenario, however, but other research did indicate a 20% improvement in efficiencies for personal transportation and a 5% increase for household incomes as a result.  Though a factor would be location and how likely a family living in the suburbs versus in a city would be to use the service.

The second poll showed that, while there would be benefits to an autonomous fleet, people don’t seem ready to trust them just yet.  83% of those surveyed indicated low to no trust in driverless vehicles and indicated they were not likely to allow one to convey them.  Younger generations were more accepting of the idea, with those 18 to 34 three times more likely than people aged 55 and over to approve of autonomous cars.  Parents were also 60% more likely to give up driving control than non-parents.

Some other notes in the report on these surveys show that the extent of possible market penetration for these vehicles is still an unknown.  Public acceptance of them is still not certain either, and the actual safety benefit is still more speculative than proven at this point.  There are also challenges surrounding the technology as well as the fact that a national mixed fleet of driverless and current vehicles could present unique challenges.

You can read more here.

Fourth Annual Coltrane Day to be Held on July 21st

The Fourth Coltrane Day Music Celebration is being held Saturday, July 21st in Huntington’s Heckscher Park. The John & Alice Coltrane Home of Dix Hills  in conjunction with the Town of Huntington and The Huntington Arts Council, will be staging an all-day, kids-free, family-friendly festival of great live music and workshops. From 12 pm on, community jams and workshops will include funk, hip-hop, electronic music, percussion, songwriting and jazz featuring members of the Funk Filharmonik and other music greats.  

Headlines acts include Grammy winner Joe Lovano’s Classic Quartet, vocal great Michelle Coltrane, Funk Filharmonik, jam band giants Dave Diamond, and Jeff Mattson and Zen Trickster members. Includes 2 Long Island Rising Stars: Jonathan Dely and Dudley Music.

The theme is “Building Community Through Music.” Proceeds to support the restoration of the historic Long Island home of John and Alice Coltrane and music education. Major sponsors include Verve Record Label and Tri-State Cadillac Dealers.”  Go to for VIP tickets and more information.

Island to Table Returns to Patchogue on August 26th

The Island to Table outdoor dining experience is set to return to Patchogue for a third consecutive year on Sunday, August 26th.  It will be located at Michael E. Reilly Memorial Park (Fireman’s Park) near the Great South Bay in Patchogue.  Tickets are $150 each. Cocktails start at 5 pm with the first course set to begin at 6 pm.

The 5-course dinner is a fundraiser run by HomeGrown Change, a local sustainability and educational group focused on teaching young people the ins and outs of gardening.  Last year’s event was a sellout, raising over $10,000 for the organization.

You can purchase tickets for the event online here, and email HomeGrown Change with questions and comments here.

Save the Date for AARP Long Island's Racial and Ethnic Disparities Forum on September 6th

Please join AARP Long Island in an important forum about the significant racial and ethnic disparities that currently exist among New York's 50+ multicultural communities. The event will take place on Thursday, September 6th, from 8 to 11 am, at the Hofstra University Club. We will update this article with registration information as soon as it's available, so keep an eye on this spot!

NYSDOT Offering Funding for Clean Air Act Complaint Transportation Projects

New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) Transportation Alternatives Program, Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program NYSDOT is making available up to $100 million in funding to support bicycle, pedestrian, multiuse path and transportation-related projects and programs that help meet the requirements of the Clean Air Act. These funds are provided through the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) and the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ).

Eligible applicants include local governments, regional transportation authorities, transit agencies, natural resource or public land agencies, tribal governments, local or regional governmental transportation or recreational trail entities and NYSDOT (for CMAQ only). A total of $100 million is available, with $56 million for funding under TAP and $44 million for funding under CMAQ. The deadline is August 16, 2018,at 4 p.m.

Contact for more information or head to their website

Rockville Centre Celebrates 150 Years

On Saturday, July 15, 1893, from 10 am to 3 pm, local residents of Rockville Centre voted 139-79 in favor of incorporating as a village according to “A Brief History of Rockville Centre” by Marilyn Nunes Devlin.

Since then the incorporated Village has grown into a bustling Long Island downtown.  Recently awarded a Smart Growth award, Rockville Centre represents 150 years of community and local rule that has made it the success it is today.  Congratulations to Rockville Centre on celebrating 150 years.

You can read a full retrospective on the incorporation of the Village and some early history here.

Smart Talk

Eric Alexander, Director

Christopher Kyle, Communications 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 for consideration.

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

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