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July 21st - 27th, 2018

Regional Updates

Cronin & Cronin

Cronin & Cronin specializes in Tax Certiorari, protesting the real property tax assessments and condemnation for commercial properties throughout New York State. They have over 75 years of legal experience in New York State.

Theirr success in the field of Tax Certiorari is due to their reputation for honesty, integrity and excellence. Because of their reputation, as well as their extensive knowledge and years of experience in property matters, they have established a positive relationship with the various municipalities.

"It’s important for people to be able to know that the LIRR is listening, that the LIRR does care about what is going the end of the day, we go through communities. It doesn’t matter if you ride the railroad or live near the railroad, or you don’t even ride the railroad, the railroad is important to everybody, and I need to make sure that we talk to everybody. It’s the only way we can deliver a project. " - Phil Eng, LIRR President

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Long Island Smart Growth Working Group Meeting Features LIRR President Phil Eng

The Long Island Smart Growth Working Group meets throughout the year to plan and aid in the implementation of state and local policies that impact downtown revitalization and infrastructure investment on Long Island. The group is comprised of local civic, chambers, municipalities, environmentalists, labor, infrastructure and design professionals and organized by Vision Long Island. 

Since 2007 the Working Group has tackled major infrastructure projects like Route 347, sewer investments, economic development financing, traffic calming, transit oriented development and a host of state, federal legislation and local community projects.

On Tuesday, the Smart Growth Working Group hosted over 100 local business, community, government and development leaders at the East Farmingdale Fire Department with featured speaker Long Island Railroad President Phil Eng who led a discussion about recent and upcoming infrastructure investments, updates on Double Track, Third Track, upgrades at Penn Station, and plans to improve the railroad’s performance, reliability and communication.

LIRR President Phil Eng, in his opening remarks, began by saying that he was pleased to be able to attend, especially because a derailment over the weekend in Penn Station could have sidelined his participation, with thanks given to those who worked around the clock to ensure that service was restored quickly and with as little disruptions as possible. Eng discussed his previous work with NYS DOT on upgrades to Rote 347, working with local community organizations, Tri-State Transportation and Vision Long Island. He mentioned that the LIRR “is an economic engine that makes Long Island thrive”, and without it, he finds it hard to see how Long Island survives.

Mr. Eng talked about how he feels that it’s important to get out there and get feedback from commuters, and feels that “it’s important for people to be able to know that the LIRR is listening, that the LIRR does care about what is going on.”  Recently, the first round of “Meet Your Manager” sessions took place, with commuters having the opportunity to discuss concerns and questions regarding their LIRR experience with their branch manager, with more meetings of the sort upcoming.

Double and third track progress was touched on, with the importance of those projects, as well as Penn Station and East Side Access mentioned as well. Speaking of the need to be proactive when dealing with issues, Eng reported that here were 205 switch failures in 2017, with 10 switches causing 44% of the failures, causing delays. Two have replaced and repaired to date, with the others being done this season, even though it was not in the current capital plan. Also in 2017, there were 417 trains delayed due to vehicles-on-tracks, with 65 grade crossings having roadways parallel to the tracks, with GPS or poor visibility causing drivers to turn onto the tracks by mistake. In order to help remedy the issue, high visibility safety delineators were installed at these locations by Memorial Day of this year on an accelerated schedule, and installation at all of the crossings will be complete this year. Additionally, the LIRR is partnering with Waze to prevent accidental turns onto grade crossing tracks, with 30 of the crossings already having those protections via the app.

Other infrastructure improvements outlined to reduce some of the 2600 trains that were delayed due to weather related events were working on readiness for hurricane season and winter storms, the clearing of 180 miles of overgrown vegetation, 60 snow switch covers installed (2 years ahead of schedule), the installation of 14 additional third rail heaters, insulation of critical components within Atlantic Tunnel manholes to mitigate water and salt intrusion, accelerating replacement of 80 utility poles, replacement of M7 door components to reduce door failures during the winter, and more.

The new President was incredibly open to working with local neighbors, commuters and other stakeholders, saying that “at the end of the day, we go through communities. It doesn’t matter if you ride the railroad or live near the railroad, or you don’t even ride the railroad, the railroad is important to everybody, and I need to make sure that we talk to everybody. It’s the only way we can deliver a project.”

Ensuring that customers have real-time information, such as delays and accurate duration of the delays, countdown clocks have been installed at all stations, and installation of GPS on the trains to ensure accuracy.  Previously, the practice was to clean the train cars at the end of the route. Now, at key locations, teams will be able to clean cars at stations while the route is still active. Frequency of station cleaning at all 124 stations has also increased by 30%.  “The idea is that we want to create a much more comfortable environment for our riders,” said Eng.  Two new programs for riders were also announced including Summer Saturdays which allows LIRR monthly ticket holders to use their ticket .

Several in attendance also provided updates regarding their area’s progress. Trustee RJ Renna from the Village of Lindenhurst discussed the 260-unit transit-oriented development that was recently approved across from their LIRR station, a walkability study being conducted by GPI for their downtown, a CFA application to construct a master plan for the village, and a new brewery opening up in a 100-year old historic building. Mayor Dennis Siry form the Village of Amityville announced the approval of a TOD district, 115 units of housing next to their LIRR station, Tritec as their master developer, and a $288,000 grant for a bike path and more walkability around their train station. Deputy Mayor Jorge Martinez from the Village of Freeport, New York State’s second largest village, discussed walkability improvements around their train station on Main Street that will help many who use the LIRR station and ravel on NICE bus. Mayor Ralph Ekstrand from the Village of Farmingdale encouraged those in attendance to visit the Village on the 2nd and 4th Thursday nights of July and August for their Main Street Festivals, and talked about a public hearing coming up in September for a 54-unit complex on Main Street by their firehouse, with plans for the first floor of the development to have a 225 seat performing arts center and gallery.

Trustee Sarah Oral from the Village of Roslyn talked about Phase 2 of Roslyn Landing which will bring more townhomes to the downtown, and the village’s wok towards infill development. She mentioned that “people are starting to become more accepting to housing in the downtown.” Suffolk County Legislator Steve Flotteron highlighted some of the highpoints of Bay Shore’s downtown revitalization, mentioning that there was a 50% vacancy rate 20 years ago. The popular waterfront is doing well, and will be more accessible with a NY State grant aimed at linking the downtown, ferry and LIRR station with bicycle paths. He also noted that Northwell Health’s Southside Hospital has been acquiring derelict buildings adjacent to the property for office and medical use. Evlyn Tsimis, Nassau’s Deputy County Executive for Economic Development, mentioned the various projects in different stages in Nassau County, including new ideas to better utilize the Nassau HUB. She said that the count is “changing he tenor of economic development from a steamroll to collaboration”.

Irene Guarasci from the Hicksville Downtown Revitalization Committee talked about the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative’s progress, including recently announced projects, and expressed hope that it will be the beginning of a beautiful walkable downtown. Karen Moltalbano from the Baldwin Civic Association discussed recent hurdles in the revitalization of Grand Avenue and Merrick Road, with the developer pulling out of the opportunity, but was encouraged by the concept of an overlay district being floated for the area. Julie Marchesella from the Elmont Chamber of Commerce reminded those attending the importance of shopping locally, with Tammie Williams of the Elmont Community Coalition shared the community’s concerns about inadequate transportation for her area, and expressed hope that the LIRR’s role in development at Belmont Park would be transparent. Thomas Grech of the Queens Chamber of Commerce talked about the need to closely work with neighbors in Nassau County, and expressed that transit options should be increased. Gina Coletti of the Suffolk County Alliance of Chambers gave an overview of a recent press conference held in Plainview urging state legislation for New York State to have the ability to collect appropriate sales taxes on out-of-state online purchases.

Updates were also given by Mike Deering of LIPA, who said that $90 million was spent on energy efficiency and renewables programs, that there are two programs for downtown economic development, and a possible program upcoming for low-to-moderate income discounts and time-use rates.  Kathy Wisnewski of National Grid gave an overview of programs that they have to help with economic development, including those areas with vacant storefronts, and efficiency programs. Mike Setzer of NICE Bus announced the launch of LINK in parts of East Meadow, Merrick and Bellmore where routes were cut over the past few ears. The service allows riders to order a ride with NICE’s smaller 14 passenger buses, choose a pickup location and time, and view the proposed itinerary Michelle Schimel from SONYMA spoke on how owning a home, condo or coop is a starting ground and opportunity to acquire wealth, and that meditation has been an activity she has enjoyed when there are minor train delays.

You can read more about the meeting here.

Setback Prompts New Approarch to Baldwin Revitalization

Hempstead Town Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney announced last week that the developer designated to redevelop portions of Baldwin’s commercial district has withdrawn their application to proceed for the project citing a profoundly shifting economic landscape, with the opportunity of an Overlay District been seen as a potential next step.

“In the wake of EEBK’s business decision, it is time to think about a public policy approach for Baldwin’s economic renaissance that doesn’t repeat a process that clearly doesn’t work,” stated Councilwoman King Sweeney. “There needs to be an immediate solution that creates an expedited approach to redevelopment, yet one that the Hempstead Town Board will supervise to ensure the community’s quality of life is enhanced.”

Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen said the developers were asking for “extreme” tax breaks and because they were having trouble acquiring the parcels necessary for the project had asked the Hempstead Industrial Development Agency to be responsible for possible takings via eminent domain.

To meet that challenge Councilwoman King Sweeney is asking her town board colleagues to review and approve a proposal that would create the Grand Avenue Overlay Zone (GAOZ) which, in turn, would incentivize the development community to purchase property confident the necessary zoning is already in place.

“A Baldwin overlay zone would finally break the redevelopment gridlock that has seen multiple development companies run into the financial challenges facing our need to transform the business district,” stated Councilwoman King Sweeney. “An overlay district could save as much as two years for a developer. That alone could save millions while creating a level of certainty which, in real estate, is priceless.”

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, a Baldwin resident, stated, “This is the type of innovative approach that will allow the economic power of the free-market to be applied to pursuing the public policy we know Baldwin's commercial district needs to be transformed. Through innovative strategies, we will accomplish that goal."

Vision Long Island has been working with the community over the past few years to develop a revitalization plan that would provide some traffic calming measures for their busy roadways and provide some economic development for the area. "The Baldwin community offers a tremendous opportunity for downtown revitalization and has the active engagement of local civic and business leaders. Overlay Districts have been used successfully across Long Island in the numerous community supported redevelopment efforts over the last decade,” said Eric Alexander, Director of Vision Long Island. “Kudos to the Town of Hempstead for exploring this important zoning tool for the betterment of Baldwin."

You can read more about the latest changes in the revitalization of Baldwin here.

Great Neck Plaza Mixed-Use Project "Galleria" Ribbon Cutting

Vision joined local government officials and business leaders this week for a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a $12.2 million mixed-use project about a block away from the Great Neck LIRR station in the Village of Great Neck Plaza.

The mixed-use development, which earned a Long Island Smart Growth Award for developer Nemat Homes & Development and the Village of Great Neck Plaza in 2017. Spanning four floors, with businesses on the bottom level and 30 apartments each on the second, third, and fourth floors the Galleria has been a catalyst for the village. Great Neck Plaza Mayor Jean Celender said this development is the first mixed-use development to be completed in Great Neck Plaza and fits into the larger goal of creating a transit-oriented village. “We’ve enjoyed working closely with Hooshang Nematzedeh, who we’ve had other buildings built by, but this is the first of our transit-oriented development projects,” Celender said.

The site was home to three vacant stores, a vacant parking lot and law office when Grace Plaza was being mulled in 2014, according to project filings and applications for financial assistance. The project was first presented to trustees in August 2012. Completion of the project marks the next step in transit oriented development for the village.

Kudos to Village Mayor Jean Celender and Nemat Homes for advancing this Smart Growth award winning project. You can read more about Great Neck Plaza’s first TOD project’s completion here.

Middle Island Mixed Use Creates New Opportunities

A complex of affordable housing units, referred to as Renaissance Village, is generating buzz about the future of the Middle Island community. The $52 million, 123-unit affordable and supportive housing development is at the center of a string of redevelopment projects and increasing commercial interest in a town that has strong suburban roots.

Some of the key development projects that will shape path of Middle Island have been identified by the town’s Civic Association President Gail Lynch-Bailey. The Longwood Public Library finished renovations in 2015, which include a children’s garden, will be an important public resource for residents. The town’s $39.1 million Capital Improvement Program will bring important revocations across multiple sites in the area. Renaissance Village developer Concern for Independent Living, the Middle Island Civic Association, and the Longwood Public Library recieved a Smart Growth Award in 2017 for these projects.

There are a number of projects and opportunities that are farther off in time but hint at exciting prospects for the Middle Island community. A new 24,472 sq. foot firehouse is being built for the Middle Island Fire Department, and parcels are being identified for mixed use development. Lynch-Bailey has specifically pointed to a former K-Mart property across from Artist Lake. With a new storage facility coming to the area, as well as a bar and grill at Wellington Inn on Middle Country Road, a more personable economy is being conceptualized for Middle Island.

With typical Middle Island home prices hovering between $300,000 and $500,000, questions about the town’s economic accessibility would be prudent to ask. But Renaissance Village, ideas for economic development, and a desire for future mixed use projects could bring new consumers and residents to Middle Island. All of these projects are coming from the enormous efforts put forth by the community throughout their visioning process with Vision Long Island and in subsequent years. 

You can read more here.

Despite Weather, Hicksville Street Fair Draws Crowd

Vision Board and staff were out this past weekend at the Hicksville Street Fair sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce assisting at the downtown revitalization information booth.

The event comes after a recent announcement by Governor Cuomo outlining projects for the initial round of funding, which includes money for train station upgrades, public space, pedestrian walkways, and support for ground-level retail and housing.  These improvements have been priorities for the community over many years according to the Hicksville Downtown Revitalization Committee.

"They don't want to do the commute. They don't want the big backyard and to cut the grass," Cuomo said, speaking on New York State's commitment to funding downtown Hicksville. "They want those walkable, dense — 'smart communities' they're called. And that has to be a new vision for Long Island, and that is exactly the vision that you have here at Hicksville."

This funding from New York State will assist the implementation of the zoning plan that was shaped by the local community over the last 8 years and is now moving forward with the Town of Oyster Bay.  We are excited to see the Governor embrace the vision for downtown Hicksville developed by local residents and business owners who are in touch with what is needed in the community.

Through the course of the street fair, hundreds of residents and business owners came by to see the latest in revitalization process, with 80% in support of up to 4-story development by the train station, with Nassau Legislators Rose Walker and Laura Schaefer, and New York State Assemblyman Michael Montesano joining as well. There was also continued opposition to the proposal at the former Sears property. In voicing their concern, many continue to emphasize thier opposition to the Sears project while being proponents of the projects around the train station area.

Kudos to the local civics, Hicksville Downtown Revitalization Committee members, and chamber for the support all day.

Stay tuned for next steps in Hicksville’s journey.

East Hampton Town Board Approves Offshore Wind Community Benefit Package

The East Hampton Town Board voted to approve the first-of-a-kind community benefit package tied to offshore wind last week. This huge win is resulting from over 18 months of a sustained engagement with the community and sets an incredibly high bar for future projects. The project by Deepwater Wind has Vision’s support and is a winner of a Long Island Smart Growth Award.

Deepwater Wind, who built and operated the nation’s first offshore windfarm off of Block Island, is planning to install the 15-turbine South Fork Wind Farm about 3 miles southeast of Long Island’s eastern tip. The vote memorialized the intention of the town to grant the easements that allow the wind farm’s transmission cables to land in Wainscott and bury it in the public road’s right of way, delivering green energy to LIPA’s substation in East Hampton. A public hearing will be held to solicit comments on the draft of the easements.

An application will likely be submitted to the State Public Service Commission next month for construction of the 90- mega watt farm. Those in favor of the construction say that it is a major step in the town’s goal of achieving 100 percent of their electrical power from renewable sources and to bolster resiliency.

You can read more about this important step towards the project’s construction here.

Projected Annual Maintenance Cost of Forge River Sewering Reduced Again

As the result of advocating for more funding, the projected annual cost per household for Phases 1 & 2 of the proposed Forge River Watershed Sewer Project of the Mastic-Shirley area has been reduced, yet again, bringing the project even closer to reality.

“This is a historic, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the entire Tri-Hamlet community,” said Suffolk County Legislator Rudy Sunderman about the proposed project.  “Sewers will help to enhance our area and provide both economic and environmental benefits.  This project will encourage economic development in the business corridor and improve the water quality of both the Forge River and the Bay.”

The impact of untreated waste has spurred harmful algal blooms that have reduced our protective wetlands by one third and sea grass by 90%, which form Long Island’s second line of defense against potential storms and natural disasters. With Superstorm Sandy, Suffolk County experienced devastation to life and property that could have been mitigated with the robust wetlands that once surrounded us. By installing more sewers and advanced wastewater treatment systems, Suffolk County seeks to restore this natural shield. Previous information sessions and public hearings have focused on the need for the community to support formation of a new sewer district in Mastic which will make it possible for more than $167 million in approved Federal funds to be used for construction. 

Installation, hookup, abandonment of cesspool and maintenance of the new system will now be 100% funded for those in the first two phases of the project, which means that connection costs will not be passed through to homeowners. The annual cost per homeowner is now estimated at $468 per year, which has dropped significantly since the plan was originally scoped, making passing of an upcoming referendum for the project more likely. 

Another round of informational meetings with updates will take place on September 20th from 11AM to 1PM and 7PM to 9PM at the Mastic Firehouse to answer questions and concerns that residents may have.
In addition, questions and concerns raised at the last round of public hearings and information sessions have been answered here.

Babylon Launches Downtown Copiague Façade Improvement Program

The Town of Babylon recently launched the Downtown Copiague Façade Improvement Program with the goal of helping revitalize the hamlet into a thriving area built around transit-oriented and Smart Growth principles. 

The program aims to assist property owners to reduce “visual clutter” by following common standards for materials, lighting, windows and other areas of design. A total of six properties on Great Neck Road were approved for grant funding late last year, with each of the awardees receiving 75 percent of the cost of the improvements, up to $25,000.

“These initial facade improvement projects are really important in the revitalization of downtown Copiague,” said Amy Pfeiffer, Director of Babylon’s Office of Downtown Revitalization, in a statement to Newsday. “I believe residents of Copiague and the Town of Babylon at large are going to enjoy the changes that result from these investments.”

“I'm willing to go into my pocket to participate in that because I think it's going to be able to help everybody ultimately by being able to get more rent and better quality tenants,” said Scott Arenella, who is among the first grant winners. “I'm putting my money in it and counting on [Copiague] looking like Farmingdale,” Arenella added.  He will spend about $90,000 improving his mixed-use building on Great Neck Road and expects up to an additional $25,000 from the town for the project.

This is just one of the efforts put forth by the Town of Babylon administration in an attempt to create destinations and revitalize communities within the township.  Earlier this spring, the town proposed a change in code to more easily allow for mixed use development.

You can read more about Babylon Town’s collaborative effort with developers and businesses here.

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

New Study Shows Millennials Preference is Revitalized Historic Areas

A new survey finds that millennials prefer to live, work and play in neighborhoods with historic buildings. 

According to a new survey, Millennials and Historic Preservation: A Deep Dive Into Attitudes and Values, nearly all (97 percent) of the nation’s largest and most diverse generation appreciate the value of historic preservation. The study goes on to show that millennials prefer areas with more character and classic design to that of the cookie cutter/big box stores we’ve seen in more recent years.
The survey finds millennials tend to value a mix of old and new buildings where they live, dine, shop and travel. The study noted that  one-in-three millennials polled are preservation fans and have taken action in support of the cause and two-thirds of the participants are interested in bunking at historic hotels. Among other highlights of the study, it mentioned that one-in-two millennials view historic preservation as important through the lens of engaging in authentic experiences, more than half indicated an importance of preserving a sense of community and creatively re-using structures.

You can read more about the findings here.

Smart Talk

Eric Alexander, Director

Christopher Kyle, Communications Director; Tawaun Weber, Assistant Director;
Elissa Kyle, Planning Director; Jon Siebert, Program Coordinator

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