November 29th - December 5th, 2015
Mill Creek Residential Trust
Mill Creek Residential develops, acquires and operates high-quality apartment communities in desirable locations coast-to-coast. While they are a national company, they immerse themselves in their chosen markets – living and working in the communities where they operate. They combine a deep understanding of each market with 30+ years of expertise and a fresh innovative approach to the apartment industry, to build relationships and places in which people thrive – creating real and enduring value for their residents, investors and associates.
"This bill is good for our country, our economy and our workforce. It will finally provide the long-term transportation funding that we need to create good jobs for millions of Americans by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure on Long Island and across the country." - US Congresswoman Kathleen Rice talking about the recently passed FAST Act
“This is great news for New York City, Long Island and all of New York and a major victory for our regional transit agencies – because it means we have protected millions in critical transportation funding our agencies were set to receive over the next six years. With this funding, agencies like the MTA and NYCDOT will be able to continue operating and keeping passengers safe. Our regional transit agencies have been lifelines for our communities and major drivers the New York State economy for a generation. This deal will ensure they can continue humming as an economic engine for New York in the years to come.” - US Senator Chuck Schumer talking about the recently passed FAST Act as a whole
Long Term Highway Bill Approved by Congress for First Time in a Decade, Obama Expected to Sign
After 36 short –term approvals to make sure that funding was still available, the U.S. House and Senate both overwhelmingly passed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST), marking the first time in a decade the there is a long-term highway bill to fund America’s roads, bridges and mass-transit systems in a decade. The five-year, $305 billion bill is expected to be signed by President Obama shortly.
The bill passed in the House of Representatives by 359 to 65, making its way to the Senate, passing just hours after receiving it by an 83 to 16 margin. The bill keeps the highway tax gas flat, as it has been since 1993. Lawmakers struggled with a way to pay for the bill without increasing the gas tax, citing decreases in revenues from the gas tax over the years due to increased vehicle efficiency. The new bill will include about $207 billion dedicated to highway projects, almost $50 billion for mass transit and $8 billion for Amtrak, which was previously authorized but not appropriated.
Newly minted Congresswoman Kathleen Rice (NY - 4) stated that, "This bill is good for our country, our economy and our workforce. It will finally provide the long-term transportation funding that we need to create good jobs for millions of Americans by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure on Long Island and across the country."
FAST also strikes down the Herrera Beutler amendment, which would have eliminated $1.6 billion in six years worth of funding to seven states in the Northeast. Senator Chuck Schumer, who was an appointed committee member of a bi-partisan group of lawmakers that worked to negotiate the Senate and House versions of the bills, was less than happy about the proposed cuts to the Northeast. "It is wrong for the House to single out the Northeast's transportation money and cut it so dramatically," Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement. "This will hurt LIRR and our bus service, and we must do everything we can to restore this awful cut." $1.5 billion in a national Competitive Bus Grant Program will still be funded, and NY will receive 10% more over a five year period via the High Density States Program. The bill also the Safe Bridges Act, proposed by Congressman Lee Zeldin, which will provide counties and municipalities on Long Island with federal funds to maintain local bridges and infrastructure.
The bill will be funded by a transfer of funds from the Federal Reserve, having the IRS use private contractors for some tax collection duties in order to save money, changes to custom fees and passport rules for those with delinquent taxes, and selling oil from the strategic oil reserve. You can read more about the long-awaited bill’s passage from the Wall Street Journal and The Hill.
Regional Alliance Passes Despite Town Resistance
Suffolk County legislators adopted resolution to form a Regional Planning Alliance crafted by Legislator Bill Lindsay this week in a 10-7 vote after hours of discussion and debate. In a surprise piece of legislation to most local municipalities the Suffolk County Legislature haggled over the fate of the new entity that would bring together Town and Village officials to plan with the County, prioritize County funds to its members and preapprove design professionals on County projects.
Municipalities in opposition included the Town's of Brookhaven, Islip, Riverhead, Smithtown, East Hampton and Southold. Civic's from Brookhaven and Smithtown were also out in opposition.
Many town supervisors, legislators and organizations had questions regarding the need for the resolution and what consequences it may have for those that do not participate. Although the resolution encourages town leaders to communicate and work together on regional projects, it does not require it. It does, however, require membership in the Alliance in order to be eligible for county funding for those projects. “No one is in favor of this,” exclaimed Legis. Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue). “It’s another layer of government imposed on planning and zoning initiatives. It’s red tape. It’s unnecessary.”
Folks in support included former Director of the Long Island Regional Planning Board Michael White, former Mayor of Greenport and Rauch Foundation's David Kappell, outgoing Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne Holst, Suffolk Planning Commission member Jennifer Casey and Long Island Builders Institute's Mitch Pally.
For many years Vision Long Island has supported the outcomes of numerous regional initiatives in Suffolk County including: Heartland Town Square, the Ronkonkoma HUB, Riverside Revitalization, sewers in Mastic Shirley, Wyandanch Rising, the recently created Master Plan and the Connect Long Island/Izone proposal among others. Vision has also supported Steve Bellone on any number of his initiatives as a Town Supervisor and now County Executive. Vision Long Island received the newest version of this legislation 8 days before the meeting and the staff and Board of Directors have not taken a formal position to date.
In consultation with multiple board members Vision presented a observations on past efforts at regional planning and a series of questions including: 1) whether the numerous existing regional planning resources available are adequate; 2) whether legislators wanted to transfer their authority for choosing "projects of regional significance" and funding county projects to non-elected staff and appointees; 3) whether creating a preselected list of design, engineering and planning consultants is necessary when the bulk of design professionals can ably tackle downtown and infrastructure projects; and 4) questioning what the local municipalities want, which in the past has been regulatory relief, infrastructure funds, and not more layers of government.
None of these questions have been answered to date. It is also unclear if the meetings of the Alliance will be open to the public like other commissions, task forces and boards. After hours of debate and numerous requests to table to solidify the language so there wouldn't have to be future amendments the resolution passed 10-7.
Voting in favor: Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory, Legislators Sarah Smith-Anker, Jay Schneiderman, Steve Stern, Lou D'Amaro, William Spencer, Monica R.Martinez, Bill Lindsay III, Kara Hahn and Rob Calarco.
NICE Bus Votes in Favor of New Fare Increases and Route Eliminations
Last month, the Nassau County’s Bus Transit Committee voted in favor of yet another fare increase and eliminating ten fixed routes while reducing service on another in order to cut a projected $7.5 million deficit in NICE’s 2016 operating budget. Dozens of riders and advocates testified at two public community meetings at the Legislative Chambers in Mineola to urge the committee to reconsider the rate increase and cutting of the routes, which will have multiple negative impacts on riders.
The 25-cent fare increases to cash riders and GoMobile app customers will bring the fare due up to the Metrocard rates of $2.75 per ride, which is the current Metrocard rate per ride. Although NICE says that this measure will only affect 1% of riders, Veolia’s 2013 Rider Survey noted that 27.9% of riders use cash as a method of payment for single-use ridership; the survey also found that just under half of riders earn under $25,000 per year, which is substantially below Nassau’s per capita income of $42,400 annually. The measure will only raise revenue for to fill up part of the projected deficit, with fare increases and route cuts expected to save $4.3 million.
NICE Bus CEO Mike Setzer, while saying that cuts in service is something that no one wants to see, and that NICE is aware how vital the routes are to riders. "I hope it didn't sound as if we are saying that these bus routes don't matter because they're inefficient. They are vital to the people that do use them," Setzer said. "This is a resource problem. This is a funding problem.”
Zipcar Comes to Downtown Farmingdale
Zipcar recently announced that two vehicles are now available for reservation by the hour or day in Farmingdale, marking the first time that the world’s leading car sharing network is making vehicles available on Long Island.
The two Zipcars are located in designated parking spots at the Farmingdale LIRR station and can be reserved quickly online, over the phone or on Zipcar’s app. “Armond”, a Honda CR-V and a “Maberly”, a Mazda 3 can be reserved as an option for those who use vehicles occasionally, as many in Farmingdale may with commuters renting apartments in close proximity to the LIRR station. Each reservation includes gas, insurance and 180 miles of driving per day, making it an affordable option for those that do utilize public transportation as their primary means to get to work.
“With Farmingdale Village becoming one of the premier examples of transit orientated development and Long Island destination spots, we feel the need for an on‐demand car sharing service like Zipcar is at a height ‐ especially near our new apartment facilities,” said Mayor Ralph Ekstrand. “Zipcar provides a sustainable and convenient alternative to car ownership. We are proud to have the first Zipcars on Long Island be right here in Farmingdale and believe it will be a home run.”
Vision Long Island joined Mayor Ralph Eckstrand of Farmingdale and Zipcar officials for the announcement and looks forward to this service being available in other downtowns.
More information is available about this service here.
Brookhaven Petitions DOT for Long Awaited Crossing at Mastics Shirley LIRR Station
Some 50,000 residents of the Mastics-Shirley area continue to cope with daily traffic delays and concerns of gridlock during an emergency due to the MTA’s refusal to allow a crossing at Hawthorne Street in Mastic over the LIRR tracks. Brookhaven Town will now be petitioning the DOT for the crossing, which was part of a Visioning plan in 2002, with multiple recommendations and studies being done in favor of the project moving forward.
The area currently has three crossings, two of them being heavily utilized by residents commuting to and from work, students taking buses to school, and for recreation to Smith Point County Park, one of the county’s most popular shoreline destinations. The crossing adjacent to the LIRR station at William Floyd parkway alone sees 52,000 vehicles cross over every day, with large amounts also at the Mastic Road crossing a mile and a half east. The proposed crossing would be constructed between the two above crossings; alleviating traffic during every day commutes, allowing emergency vehicles to bypass heavy traffic conditions on William Floyd Parkway and Montauk Highway, and providing additional access for evacuations for the peninsula directly to Montauk and Sunrise Highways in the event of emergency.
Beth Wahl, President of the Chamber of Commerce of the Mastics and Shirley and William Floyd Community Summit has been advocating for the crossing for years. "Adding an additional crossing is imperative. We are a densely populated community with only 2 major roadways, North and South. Traffic is horrible on a daily basis and if there were an emergency situation requiring evacuation, it would be impossible to actually evacuate the community." The crossing was also a featured project in the area’s New York Rising Community Reconstruction Plan, with an estimated construction cost of $1.4 million.
The LIRR has continued to deny requests to create the crossing, saying that it has “long opposed the creation of new grade crossings for safety reasons.” Brookhaven Town is in the process of completing the petition to the DOT to request a hearing regarding the matter. You can read more in Newsday and News12.
Nassau County IDA Approves Tax Breaks for Mineola TOD Project
The Nassau County Industrial Development Agency unanimously approved tax breaks for a planned 266-unit transit-oriented apartment Village Green complex in Mineola recently, bringing the project a step closer towards groundbreaking. The project will create 160 construction jobs for two years and build 18 permanent jobs.
The agreement freezes property taxes for five years and then gradually increases them, for a total of $9.1 million over 20 years. Exemptions of up to $750,000 on mortgage recording tax and up to $3 million on sales tax were also approved. The 311,500 square foot project will have underground parking and ground-floor retail space, being built within walking distance to Mineola’s LIRR station as well as the NICE bus hub. Rents will start in the mid $2000s, with 10 percent being at a reduced rate for those who earn up to 80 percent of Long Island’s medium income. The Village of Mineola recently adopted a local law that would set aside 10% of housing units built to be set aside for reduced rental prices, which now qualifies them for incentive bonuses.
The Village will also will be considering a proposal by Mill Creek Residential for Mineola’s fourth downtown commuter apartment complex early next year. You can read more about the recent IDA approval he re, and check out the proposed project for Village Green here.
Town of Islip and Village of Lindenhurst Take Steps to Curb Parking Issues
Two Suffolk municipalities have recently taken steps to mitigate parking issues in their areas by looking into repurposing underused properties.
The Village of Lindenhurst’s board approved an agreement with a Babylon-based company for an environmental study not to exceed $1,500 on 189 S. Wellwood Avenue to ensure that there are no environmental issues. "We want to make sure we're not buying a problem," said Village Clerk-Treasurer Shawn Cullinane. The board previously approved a $2,000 appraisal of the property. Cullinane feels that the 75 foots by 75 foot property could be a good addition to the six municipal lots and metered spots along Wellwood Avenue. The property, built in 1950, is now off the market, but was previously listed at $595,000. The Village, which has a high vacancy rate, is working on parking shortages which residents feel will help the revitalization of the downtown. The Village’s economic development committee asked a parking consultant who worked on Patchogue’s revitalization efforts for suggestions this past summer, with the consultant suggesting offering a mix of free and metered parking and raising parking fees to pay for property for additional lots.
The Town of Islip also paved the way for 30-40 public parking spots when the board unanimously approved a resolution to purchase two parcels of land at 191 Carleton Avenue for $420,000. The purchase, which Supervisor Angie Carpenter says are being purchased at “fair market value”, will help alleviate parking issues for adjacent shopping destinations, for local residents and for the Islip Ambulance Exchange, which has had severe parking issues. "The benefit is trifold," Carpenter said in a phone interview. "There's no real public parking around and this will really have a lot of public benefit." Robert Stadelman, president of Exchange Ambulance of the Islips, said with its membership growing over the past several years to about 100 volunteers currently, the existing 15-space parking lot next to its building between Adams Street West and West Madison Street is too small and gets even more crowded on training and meeting nights. "You have vehicles all over the place," Stadelman said. "Cars are all over the side streets, residential streets and understandably, our neighbors are not happy about that."
Patchogue Looks to Incentivize Retail Occupants
While some downtowns have multiple vacancies with no prospective tenants and others with no available space and a need for further development, downtown Patchogue has a different issue to tackle; plenty of room available, potential tenants wanting to lease space, but just less of it.
Both BID executive director Dennis Smith and Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce executive director David Kennedy say that they receive several calls month inquiring about available space, but they are for smaller spaces than Patchogue’s vacant retail stock. “Usually, it’s people who want to start a business like a specialty boutique, “Kennedy said. Patchogue has multiple dining locations, which are idea for the larger spaces that are available. Bigger retailers are hesitant to move into the area, seeing Sunrise Highway as a more attractive area, and due to the lack of parking options that bigger retailers would require.
Mayor Paul Pontieri, Kennedy and Smith will be meeting in January to look at offering incentives for owners of larger spaces to subdivide their properties in order to reduce vacant space and give potential retailers a home. The owners of the former Rose Jewelers subdivided the property at 74 East Main Street to provide smaller retail space, with Kilwins occupying 1700 square feet. The costs for subdivision included modifications to electricity heat and air conditioning lines.
Pontieri pointed out Sayville’s success in retail. “Most of the spaces are 1,500 to 2,000 square feet, so they’re smaller and easier to rent,” he said. “Sayville’s history has always been small boutique retail. Ours has always been Swezey’s, W.T. Grant, Woolworth and J.C. Penney. We’re fighting with our history now. The only thing that seems to fill the large spaces are the restaurants.” You can read more about Patchogue thinking outside of the box here.
A Fix for Nassau’s Financial Woes
This Op-ed was written by Nassau County Legislator Laura Curran and originally appeared in Long Island Herald.
As we hobble to the end of the weeks-long, high-stakes game of chicken that has become our budget process in Nassau County, an essential question emerges — how the heck are we going to fix our very serious financial problems?
There is a long-term fix that you’ve likely read before in these pages. It’s called transit-oriented development, also known as TOD, and it’s very simple: development that combines housing, retail, business, and places to eat, drink and hang out, clustered around transit hubs, such as LIRR stations and where buses converge.
Patchogue and Farmingdale already provide great examples of TOD — and it’s no coincidence that they are two of the few places on Long Island where the number of young people is actually growing.
Other examples of forward thinking can be found in Rockville Centre and Long Beach. And large-scale, ambitious plans are in the works in Hempstead Village and Wyandanch. Right here in Baldwin, engineers have just completed a Complete Streets study for Grand Avenue, to make our main drag not only safer, but more attractive to businesses and TOD developers.
It was crystal clear to me two years ago — when I was first running for the legislature — that TOD was one way to make our region not just survive but thrive. Now, after going through two tortured budget seasons in county government, I am only more convinced that we need to get more TOD projects going — now.
Each fall, the county goes through several weeks of baroque brinksmanship — like a game of multi-dimensional chess. Take, for instance, what happened on Nov. 13, when the Nassau County Legislature, for the first time in its 20-year history, overrode a county executive’s veto. Think of it as a triple-negative — legislators killed County Executive Ed Mangano’s attempt to kill legislation that killed a 1.2 percent property tax increase from the 2016 budget.
The vote was 14-4, and I was one of the four to vote against the override. I was concerned that if the Legislature did not enact the increase, the Nassau Interim Finance Authority (NIFA), the county’s fiscal watchdog, would make good on its threat cut $6.4 million for youth services, $4.6 million for the county’s bus service, and $4.4 million to train our volunteer firefighters.
I was elected to represent my South Shore district, which depends on youth services (especially considering the growing heroin epidemic), needs a robust bus system, and relies on well-trained firefighters.
But the increase did not stand, and so 10 days later, with the clock ticking down to the Nov. 30 budget deadline, legislators on both sides of the aisle joined the administration (can you hear the chorus of angels celebrating such an event?) to increase certain fees in the county clerk’s office, thereby avoiding the drastic cuts. Of course, that wasn’t the end of it; at press time, we still awaited NIFA’s verdict.
Why am I rehashing all this? Because it is irresponsible to every year hold the youth programs, bus riders and volunteer firefighters hostage. We must make it less onerous for responsible developers to launch TOD projects. We must respectfully and convincingly counteract NIMBY negativism that would keep us clinging to aging infrastructure and bleak main streets.
Yes, Nassau’s towns, villages and cities control zoning and a lot of the planning for development. Yes, we live in a complicated patchwork of municipalities driven by party politics. That will not magically disappear. So let’s make the best of what we’ve got. The county cannot throw up its hands and say, “It’s not us!” Let’s continue to partner with the smaller municipalities, and not be afraid to work across party lines. After all, the increased tax base that will come with more housing options, a better retail climate, and a bigger “fun factor” will mean more revenue, and better services for all our residents.
It is with great sadness that we share the news of the passing of Nassau County Commissioner Melvin Harris. Mr. Harris was the also a union leader, the past President of the NAACP of Hempstead and President Emeritus of the Nostrand Gardens Civic Association.
Mr. Harris was appointed in 2014 as a member of the Nassau County Human Rights Commission. "We remember Mel as a loving husband, devoted father, and a son to proud parents Nancy and Melvin," Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano said in a statement. "Mel dedicated his life to serving others. From working for our great county, to advocating for individuals in various community-based organizations,"
Civic leader and prominent Long Island attorney Steve Eisman passed away recently due to complications from surgery.
Mr. Eisman was recently named president of the Nassau Bar Association, and has been named as a top attorney by New York Super lawyers every year since 2008 and by the Best Lawyers in America since 2012. Additionally, he was awarded by Long Island Business News with a Leadership in Law award in both 2012 and 2014.
“Steve Eisman was a dear friend for 30 years, a wonderful father to his children and wife and an amazing attorney who cared deeply about people and families.” Rich Bivone, Co-Chair LI Business Council who worked closely with Mr. Eiseman in a number of endeavors.
In addition to his numerous professional accomplishments and honors, Mr. Eisman served on the advisory board for the We Care Fund, the Nassau Bar Association’s charitable arm, as well as General Counsel for New York District Kiwanis.
Huntington Station BID Presents the First Annual Fairground Holiday Bazaar
Holiday cheer sweeps Huntington Station with the joy and excitement surrounding the first annual "Fairground Holiday Bazaar" hosted by the Huntington Station Business Improvement District (BID) on Saturday, December 5th from 11am-7pm.
The free event is held adjacent to the Huntington Station Public Library at 1345 New York Avenue and is walking distance from the Huntington train station. "By working together and getting our neighbors involved we have reintroduced Huntington Station as the vibrant hub that it is," President Keith Barrett said. The Huntington Station BID unanimously voted in January of this year to hire Creative Director Michael Raspantini to create and launch new initiatives for community engagement and local business development. The Fairground Bazaar, Multinational Culture Week and "BID Dollars" are three brand new BID functions rolled out this year.
The Fairground Bazaar is hosted in an outdoor heated tent featuring 15 local Long Island vendors like Kerber's Farm with delicious homemade pies and local honey, Flowerdale with fresh cut customized pine Christmas wreaths, Grace & Beauty Dog & Cat Salon with gifts for pets and of course, Santa Claus! Additional vendors include Cricket Wireless, Orrigami Owl, Dove Chocolates, Tupperware and more.
Source the Station and Renaissance Downtowns provided donations for the Fairground Bazaar and awarded local Huntington artist and Brazilian native Lucienne Pierrera the "Action Grant" to paint a community mural at the Fairground Bazaar entitled, "May Peace Prevail on Earth." The 15 ft x 7 ft mural will be painted by all persons interested in participating. "I will facilitate the painting of this mural and coordinate all people willing to participate. Everyone is invited to paint this mural together regardless of painting skills so that we can work together and add our own peace messages to the mural." Source the Station will also have a table at the Fairground Bazaar where free holiday crafts will be available for children.
The Huntington Public Library - Station Annex will be hosting holiday story-time readings for children in conjunction with the Fairground Bazaar. After families see Santa, they will be invited to the library next door for more fun. Librarian and Huntington Station BID Board Member Mary Kelly coordinated additional support from the library for this happening. Santa Claus will be seeing children from 12p-4p inside the Bazaar tent. "This year the Huntington Station BID has hosted more events, raised more money and accomplished more than it has in years past." BID Vice President and longtime community activist Dolores Thompson said.
You can check out information for the event here.
20th Annual Port Jefferson Charles Dickens Festival
Planning for the spectacular 20th Annual Port Jefferson Charles Dickens Festival has begun planning for the Second Annual Festival of Trees at the Port Jefferson Village Center. A magnificent display of holiday trees decorated by YOU will be on display through the month of December located on the second and third floors of the Port Jefferson Village Center.
Events will take place 9 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5 and 10 a.m.-7:45 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6 in Port Jefferson. You can read Newsday's full run down of events taking place this weekend here.
Long Island Coalition for the Homeless Conducts Annual Winter Drive
Long Island Coalition for the Homeless conducts an annual winter drive in order to ensure the safety and needs of those that are homeless on Long Island, living on the streets. Each year, volunteers pack “homeless kits” that include warm clothing, toiletries (travel size), and non-perishable foods. These kits are distributed to individuals that are living on the streets both during our annual homeless count in January and also during ongoing street outreach efforts throughout the winter months.
Intern with Vision Long Island!
What's happening on your Main Street this weekend?
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Garvies Point Museum and Preserve
For information, visit their website or call 516-439-5218
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Bow Tie Port Washington
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Cold Spring Harbor
For information, visit their website or call 631-351-3250
Port Jefferson Historical Society
For information, visit their website or call 631-473-2665
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More Information on Smart Growth Summit Coming Soon!
Vison Long Island has been hard at work writing up a full report of the 2015 Smart Growth Summit that took place on November 20th. Stay tuned to your email for the soon to come full details on the 1000+ elected officials, stakeholders, and motivated people who came out to discuss the future of Smart Growth, downtowns, and infrastructure on Long Island!