July 26th - August 1, 2015
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“Congress has an opportunity to pass a long term transportation bill this fall with bipartisan support. This will bring needed dollars to our roadways, bridges and transit systems here on Long Island.” - United States Congressman Lee Zeldin speaking at Hofstra University
US Senate Moves Forward with Long-Term Transportation Bill
The US Senate has been pushing hard for a long-term expansion of the federal highway bill this week, approving three years and $350 billion of funding for infrastructure Thursday by a 65-34 vote. The bill will now go to the House, who has reservations against approving a long-term bill.
Many of the critical provisions lobbied for by the Smart Growth movement nationally and Vision Long Island in visits to DC included the Safe Streets Act, TIFIA financing for transit-oriented development, and the TIGER grants program at the U.S. Department of Transportation were included in the bill’s final version.“We are glad to see the Senate advance a long term transportation bill that contains measures for Complete Streets, downtown transit redevelopment and financial support for maintaining our crucial transportation programs. The challenge will be to make this progress complete with support from the House and then ensuring the Long Island gets its fair share of resources from this funding package” Eric Alexander, Director, Vision Long Island.
More can be read about this bill and its updates from The Hill, US News, and PBS.
Federal Bill will Allow Children to Walk
In the past several months in several states, parents have undergone police and Child Protective Services investigations after allowing their children to walk to and from playgrounds and schools, spurring a debate on what is being called "Free Range Parenting". A recent amendment to the Every Child Achieves Act, which overhauls No Child Left Behind, will now ensure that parents will have the right to let their kids walk or bike to school if they choose without threat of criminal or civil action against them.
Senator Mike Lee of Utah introduced the amendment after several parents were investigated for child neglect and endangerment for allowing their children to walk home from local parks. Most notable of these cases was the two against Danielle and Alexander Meitiv of Maryland, who allowed heir 10 and 6 year old children walk home from a local park in their suburban neighborhood, subjecting them to two investigations by authorities. The parents were eventually cleared of any wrong doing.
Although only 13% of children currently walk to school due to parents dropping them off on the way to work and issues with proximity of their homes to the school, this legislation will allow parents to have the choice to use their best judgement in their children's life. Hopefully this measure that will be going to the House for vote soon, will encourage areas to continue to create safe, walkable communities for young children.
More can be read in a commentary here.
Tax Benefits for Nassau Coliseum edevelopment approved
The Nassau County IDA approved tax credits for Forest City Ratner Company to renovate and redevelopment the Nassau Coliseum. The benefits package includes monies for equipment, construction materials and furnishings and a $1.1 million reduction in mortgage recording taxes.
The Nassau Coliseum has gone through various plans since the early 90’s and while previous proposals like the Lighthouse project had the full and overwhelming support of the community and the Smart Growth movement we are happy to see this scaled down version move forward. There were calls for more investment from the current project into community benefits yet the limited density makes these types of amenities a challenge. Unfortunately past County efforts to bring infrastructure dollars to the area did not secure any resources for road improvements, buses or sewer improvements to allow the needed density on the site. This failure killed the Lighthouse project and any subsequent plans for more development on the site. Moving forward the redevelopment of the Coliseum and reasonable development adjacent can allow future plans to make the place a true destination for central Nassau.
“Kudos to Nassau County and the Mangano administration for bringing this project close to a place that no one has been able to accomplish – a shovel in the ground for renovating a badly neglected arena. We are looking forward to progressive planning in future phases of the redevelopment that should value placemaking, walkability and connection to the local community” Eric Alexander, Director, Vision Long Island
You can read more on this story at Newsday.
Suffolk County Tourism Picks Up
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone recently announced the launch of Stay Suffolk, an inititive to promote the local assets that thousands of people from across the country and world fly in to see and visit on their vacations. This program aims to have our local residents take more "Staycations" rather than fly abroad to enjoy all that Suffolk has to offer while enhancing the $5.6 billion tourism industry.
The program will include public service announcements, an interactive social media campaign, and the launch of StaySuffolkLI.com, which will highlight some of Suffolk's attractions, including our beaches, state and county parks, golf courses, aquariums, arboretums, vineyards and historical landmarks. The partnership between Long Island Convention & Visitor's Bureau and Sports Commission (LICVB), New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Fire Island National Seashore (FINS), Long Island Wine Council, Suffolk County Department of Parks and other local organizations will help residents plan a world-class vacation right on Long Island while supporting the nearly 74,000 tourism related jobs.
"When most people think of vacation spots, they think of islands and beaches," said Bellone. "As Long Islanders, we often don't think of our own backyard. Suffolk County is home to a number of world-class vacation destinations. People come from all over the globe to enjoy all the activities our region has to offer. You can have the vacation you want without the hassle and exlense of long-distance travel".
Focusing advertising dollars on Long Island for staycations and boosting attendence at local downtowns, parks, and other amenities is the right direction to strengthen local communities. We're glad to see Suffolk County move in this direction," said Vision Long Island Director Eric Alexander.
Long Islanders can check out www StaySuffolkLI.com to see vacation ideas and learn more.
Smart Growth Redevelopment Advances in Downtown Copiague
Downtown Copiague’s heavily commercial and industrial area near the LIRR station has an opportunity for revitalization under rezoning with a proposed $21 million, 90-unit apartment complex on two acres. A 31 acre swath of land around the Copiague LIRR station and Great Neck Road was unanimously rezoned this past spring to transition the area, whose potential is overshadowed by single-story industrial buildings. This proposed development would be the first to move forward towards stimulating smart growth in the area.
Although the planning board could take weeks to render a decision on whether or not to move forward with the plan, board member Tracy Groomes is supportive of the plan due to her experience growing up in a similar development. “It was clean, everybody worked. Our incomes were lower but we had a great community… I’m on the side of maybe giving it a chance.”
Rail Terminal / Sand Mine Fined for Dumping
Yaphank’s Brookhaven Rail Terminal was fined $500,000 by the state Department of Environmental Conservation this week for causing or allowing the dumping of debris at the 28-acre site. The agency found five piles of suspicious debris on site, including two piles that contained levels of pesticides that would require disposal of the waste off Long Island.
Rectifying sand mining and dumping issues has the opportunity to limit groundwater contamination and improve public health, and most importantly, rebuild public trust in large scale development projects. Kudos to NYS DEC for taking action on this high profile issue.
More can be read about move to ensure that the terminal is operating as intended in Newsday.
Smithtown Downtown View
Reflecting on the state of our nation this July 4th gave me the realization that I have been blessed in the course of my last 30 years meeting tens of thousands of Long Islanders working diligently to improve their neighborhoods. This experience contrasts with the deluge of negative news media that tells us that we are all racists, wards of the state, illegal, unkind, at war with each other and fearful for our future. It is true that we are at a historically low level of trust with all things big – government, business, media, not for profits – but support for local community efforts, municipalities and institutions remains strong.
On Long Island we do have the voices of commentators that wring their hands with academic arguments about all that is wrong about our region from lack of housing choices, high taxes, energy costs, attacks on local municipalities and if we had one large government all would be better. In this barrage of hopelessness we ignore the low unemployment, strong quality of life, great schools, a beautiful natural environment, a growing diversity in population bringing cultural opportunities and many distinct downtown places that Long Islanders care deeply about and are undergoing transformation.
Like many suburban areas around the country we have problems that exist and persist we should recognize and support the myriad of folks actually tackling the problems our region faces community by community. Our team at Vision Long Island has been working with and recognizing the leadership of these local businesses, municipalities, community leaders, builders and design professionals for years at our Smart Growth Awards ceremony. This year 900 leaders witnessed this honorees that crystalize this hyper local community progress from AARP, Island Harvest, Jobs with Justice and projects and leadership in Hempstead, Farmingdale, Port Jefferson, Freeport, Valley Stream, Northport, N. Amityville and Great Neck.
Well beyond the leaders recognized this year 57 of Long Island’s 103 downtown business districts are actively working on revitalization programs, 40 have traffic calming projects addressing road safety and 40 have developed transit oriented development housing in their downtowns totaling over 10,000 units over the last eight years. Many have increased arts/music/culture and all of them have new restaurants, beautification programs, increased community events, festivals, fairs and other activities. From an economic point of view businesses are actively looking to site their operations in downtown locations and there are much lower vacancy rates in office space on Main Street than in traditional office parks across the Island.
What I would like to do with this column is give a true Main Street view as to what is happening on Long Island’s many downtowns and spotlight the changes and challenges facing the communities we care so deeply about. As a guy who lives on a Main Street for over 20 years and now raising a family here I hope to share a perspective that truly comes from regular folks. With that goal in mind please let me know what is happening in your community, how you see changes good, bad; what is working and new ideas. It goes without saying that the small businesses and local municipalities need your commerce, time and support of our Main Streets by patronizing them this summer and throughout the year.
To view this article and more, visit SmithtownToday News.
Renew Hempstead Partners with National Night Out this Tuesday!
National Night Out is a community and police awareness event geared towards ensuring the safety of the community. Renew Hempstead is doing their part by bringing positive vibes to the streets, launching a monthly series of outdoor evening events showcasing our local artists, poets, and musicians!
Solar Sunday Seminars
Earn Extra Credit Hosting A School Supply Drive
You can make a difference in a child’s future.
Long Island Coalition for the Homeless is collecting school supplies through their 10th annual Supply Our Students drive.
“The need for assistance is growing each year. We are grateful to members of the community who come together to help our less fortunate neighbors. These school supplies will help thousands of children go back to school with the tools they need to succeed,” Executive Director Greta Guarton said.
Businesses, community organizations and even other schools are asked to get involved. The Coalition provides collection boxes and fliers, and will even pick up the boxes.
Support for Downtown Huntington Station
Since the Development Strategy was approved, Renaissance Downtowns and the Town of Huntington have been working on a two prong approach to move revitalization forward in Huntington Station: 1., development and groundbreaking for the immediate opportunity sites and 2., working with the Town of Huntington to collaborate with Suffolk County on ways to bring sewer infrastructure to unsewered commercial corridors in Huntington Station. Currently, they are looking for support for these two initiatives.
HOPE VI Main Street Program Funding Available
The purpose of the HOPE VI Main Street Program is to provide grants to small communities to assist in the renovation of an historic or traditional central business district or "Main Street" area by replacing unused commercial space in buildings with affordable housing units. The objectives of the program are to:
HUD is making available through this NOFA $500,000 for HOPE VI Main Street Grant Program.
Funding Opportunity Number: FR-5900-N-03
Hazard Mitigation Assistance Grants
FEMA has announced the FY 2015 Notice of Funding Opportunities for two of the Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) grant programs: Flood Mitigation Assistance and Pre-Disaster Mitigation. HMA grant programs provide states, tribes, territories, and local governments funding for eligible mitigation activities to strengthen our nation’s ability to reduce disaster losses and protect life and property from future disaster damages.
Appications for EPA's Clean Air Excellence Awards Now Open
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is accepting applications for the 2016 Clean Air Excellence Awards Program to recognize individuals and organizations whose efforts have helped to make progress in achieving cleaner air. Award recipients are selected for developing innovative, replicable and sustainable programs; serving as pioneers in their fields; and improving air quality either directly or indirectly through reduced emissions of criteria pollutants, hazardous air pollutants and/or greenhouse gases. Applications due September 11.
Intern with Vision Long Island!
Vision Long Island is looking for interns! Our staff likes to say we "wear many hats," and interns will have to do the same. Interns will assist with planning, design, outreach, event planning, writing, research, attending meetings, reporting, photography, video and more. Bring your unique skill set to the table! We are looking for energetic and conscientious individuals with an interest in urban/suburban planning from a bottom-up perspective. This is a valuable opportunity to work with great people and learn about the issues impacting Long Island. Strong writing skills a plus.
What's happening on your Main Street this weekend?
For information, visit their website.
Garvies Point Museum and Preserve
For information, visit their website or call 516-439-5218
For information, visit their website or call 516-822-7505
For information, visit their website.
For information, visit their website or call 516-922-5032
Bow Tie Port Washington
For information, visit their website or call 516-766-0300
Cold Spring Harbor
If you are a Huntington Station resident and you would like to meet some of your neighbors, why not stop by at our first Porch Crawl tonight from 6pm to sundown! If you live in the neighborhood north of the train station between Broadway and Olive and New York Ave and Kelsey or in the neighborhood along East Rogues Path between Talbot and Lodge you are welcome to hang out on your porch and invite your neighbors up for a little conversation or maybe go for a walk and see if any of your neighbors are on their porches looking for some company! Visit the Facebook event for more info and for a sign you can hang to let your neighbors know you are participating.
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