Dec. 1-5, 2014
The Spector Group
For more than 40 years, Spector Group's global expertise in architecture, interiors and master planning has impacted the world with sustainable environments that exude energy and a sense of presence. The work is based on both a physical and spiritual contextual sensitivity, supported by evocative and economic design solutions - - the result, spaces and moments that maximize the pleasures of life, scintillating the senses, establishing aesthetic wonder through functionality. Spector distorts and challenges the expected - creating dynamic architecture and interiors that please the eye while challenging the mind.
"Grandpa, its cool here. There are old-fashioned stores, places to eat, neat things to do and you can walk around." Julian, grandson of Vision Long Island board member Richard Koubek, on a visit to downtown Northport
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MTA Reinvention Commission Recommendations Released
Just days before Americans sat down to a large Thanksgiving dinner, a panel of experts unveiled a feast of ideas to improve transportation in the northeast for a century.
The MTA Transportation Reinvention Commission is a panel of 24 experts assembled at the suggestion of Governor Andrew Cuomo to improve the regional transportation network. They released a report on Nov. 25 that called for a more resilient system, better cooperation between agencies and contributions from all who benefit from the MTA’s services.
Tri-State Transportation Campaign Executive Director and Vision Long Island board member Veronica Vanterpool was one of 24 on the panel, which was co-chaired by former U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and former FAA Administrator Jane Garvey.
And after months, the commission’s report recommends seven strategies to the make the MTA more successful. According to the experts, the MTA must: reengineer its way of doing business by becoming more efficient, transparent, and accountable to the public; accelerate and sustain core capital investment to bring its infrastructure into a state of good repair in order to maximize safety, reliability and resiliency; create a 21st-century customer experience to provide all customers an information-rich, reliable and easy-to-use service; aggressively expand the capacity of the existing system both to alleviate constraints and to meet the needs of growing ridership; make investments designed to serve existing and emerging population and employment centers not well served by the existing system; forge partnerships with local, state and federal economic development and planning partners, the private sector and other transit agencies; and have a balanced, stable and reliable long-term funding plan that includes dedicated revenues and contributions from all who benefit from MTA services, directly or indirectly.
“New York will never have a world-class transit system unless the MTA reinvents itself and the public invests in it. A robust transportation network is essential to the region, but its past achievements do not make future success inevitable. Our work shows that the MTA can meet the array of challenges it faces, but doing so will require careful stewardship, creative thinking and heightened investment to ensure it can continue to be the engine that drives New York,” LaHood said.
Improving partnerships with other transit agencies was a major focus of the report. The panel urged the MTA to prioritize a new fare system with other systems like NICE Bus, PATH trains and NJ Transit easier. They also recommended improving access between transit systems and limiting the number of transfers when traveling from one part of the region to another.
Their suggestions also back more Transit-Oriented Developments (TOD), with transit systems supporting this future housing. The report calls for the MTA to showcase TOD with improvements in service and Cuomo to prioritize TOD in his next round of Regional Economic Development Council grants.
However, the commission also found the MTA’s current funding sources of tolls, fares, taxes and subsidies would be “inadequate” to address the commission’s recommendations. New funding sources, , including congestion pricing on motorists and opening financing for major projects from private sources, would have to be investigated and calls on everyone who benefits from the MTA to contribute. But the experts did not identify specific sources of revenue and this comes in the wake of a proposed $32 million five-year capital spending plan with a $15.2 million gap from the MTA in September. The reinvention commission was expected to help craft the capital plan before it was submitted to the state legislature this fall.
Visit the Wall Street Journal for media coverage of the report; the MTA’s website or Tri-State’s blog for more on the report itself; and our June 27 issue for more on the MTA Transportation Reinvention Commission.
Grid Announces $700 Mil Natural Gas Investment
A proposed natural gas infrastructure investment should get a ruling from state officials in upcoming weeks.
Natural Grid filed a three-year, $700 million investment plan to the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) in June. National Grid said they anticipate the PSC decision by January, if not sooner. According to the petition submitted with the PSC, National Grid is seeking permission to defer costs associated with the capital expenses. No date has formally been announced by the PSC, although it could be heard at their Dec. 11 session next week.
"As the natural gas provider on Long Island, National Grid has a longstanding commitment to the communities and customers we serve. This investment plan will enable National Grid to continue to provide safe and reliable service to our gas customers in the most economical and environmentally friendly way, while supporting the growth and vitality of Long Island," National Grid New York President Ken Daly said.
According to a National Grid fact sheet, the plan calls for KeySpan Energy Delivery Long Island (KEDLI) to invest in gas main replacements, gas connections, and storm hardening. KEDLI became a subsidiary of National Grid when the UK-based company acquired KeySpan Corporation in 2006.
National Grid’s bill has two parts: the supply charge and a delivery charge. The supply charge is the cost of the commodity which fluctuates with the market price of gas and the company said this charge is a pass-through without mark up. The delivery side, which has not increased since 2008, is National Grid’s cost to operate and maintain the distribution system and fluctuates with usage. National Grid currently spends $140 million annually on maintenance operation actually exceeds revenues.
If the PSC approves the full proposal, National Grid would spend $225-$250 million annually for three years. Specific projects have yet to be identified, although more than 250 miles of gas lines, 180 miles of new gas main and 570,000 storm-resilient automated meters would be installed, according to the fact sheet. National Grid said approval of this proposal will allow it to accelerate its existing leak-prone pipe program, replacing cast iron and unprotected steel pipe with plastic.
The investment would also allow the company to increase natural gas service to 33,000 new customers. Homeowners are still signing up despite falling oil prices. The company currently averages hooking up 10,000 new homes annually. National Grid has 570,000 natural gas customers, according to the fact sheet, along with 7,892 miles of distribution gas pipeline.
New York City partially supported National Grid’s proposal in a formal comment back in August. They agreed investments are necessary to provide reliable and resilient service. However, they also had concern about National Grid’s ability to defer $700 million and not file a rate case since 2006 – it was adopted in 2007. City officials requested PSC temporarily grant the utility the right to defer only for two years and require a rate case within a year to properly handle future expenses and delivery rates.
Check out the full copy of National Grid’s petition here.
Shopping On Small Business Saturday Across LI
The holiday season has begun again, and downtown Long Island is embracing their patrons
American Express’ Small Business Saturday was a popular draw over the Thanksgiving weekend, although local businesses prepared to offer sales and entertainment for customers throughout the holiday season.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport) joined Northport Deputy Mayor Henry Tobin, Northport Chamber of Commerce Secretary Dorothy Walsh and Vision Long Island Director Eric Alexander tour the Village of Northport on Saturday.
“With so many shoppers excited for the bargains found on Black Friday, initiatives like Small Business Saturday give our local businesses a chance to compete against big-box stores during one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year,” Spencer said.
The traveling contingent met Holly Levis, owner of Petport; Tim Hess, owner of Tim's Shipwreck Diner; Carlene Afetian, owner of Veronica Rayne Boutique; Kathy Kitts, owner of Artisan House; Northport Hardware Co.'s Bill Reichert, who was gearing up for Friday’s Annual Leg Lamp Lighting; Jones Drug Store staff; and Ruth Koroglian, of Cow Harbor Fine Gifts and Collectibles.
Bellone also visited Value Drugs, Community Pet Shop and Spa Adriana in Huntington village; Sea Creations, the East End Shirt Company, the Dusty Attic Shop and Earring Tabu with Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) in Port Jefferson; and Shock & Baby Shock, Lynne’s Cards & Gifts, Lynn Stroller Collection and Good Westhampton with Legislator Jay Schneiderman (D- in Montauk) Westhampton on Saturday.
“This past Saturday, I took the opportunity to support Small Business Saturday throughout Suffolk County. I had the distinct honor to travel to some of our downtowns and meet with store owners and proprietors as well as begin my holiday shopping. The small business community and business in general serves as the back bone of Suffolk County’s economic future. The county is committed to continuing to support small businesses through our economic development initiatives and programs," Bellone said.
Small Business Saturday events were also held in: the Village of Westbury with a flea market and scavenger hunt; Village of Farmingdale with the grand opening of a boutique; the Village of Lynbrook; Huntington village with a street fair.
But as Greater Patchogue of Chamber of Commerce Executive David Kennedy said last month, Small Business Saturday is just the beginning.
“[It] is not the end-all, be-all. It’s what you do after,” he said.
For more on our previous Small Business Saturday coverage, visit our Nov. 14 newsletter.
Protestors Rally Outside LI Walmarts On Black Friday
While many were sitting around a table with family, finishing off a slice of pie or second helping of Thanksgiving turkey, a growing number of Americans employed by corporate retailers were forced to come into work on Thursday.
Come the morning of Black Friday, Long Island Jobs With Justice rallied outside the East Meadow Walmart. Protests were reportedly held outside 1,600 branches of the chain nationwide.
Executive Director Anita Halasz said her organization was rallying as a sign of support for Walmart employees. Corporate is forcing them to work for meager pay, she added, while retaliating against associates who challenge them.
“We know they can’t be with their families. We know they’re barely making a living,” Halasz said.
About 20 protestors stood on the sidewalk outside, holding signs and chanting at traffic on Hempstead Turnpike. The event organizer, a former Walmart employee, intended on holding a mock funeral procession in the store; Walmart contacted Nassau County Police when the group was still assembling in the parking lot.
Vision Long Island Director Eric Alexander was present at the East Meadow protest.
Another group of protestors stood outside the Centereach Walmart with food, clothing and toys on a table. As they criticized the company’s compensation packages, they offered free goods to the needy.
Walmart is the most profitable corporation in the country with 1.4 million employees generating $16 million in profit last year. The company has come under fire for destroying downtowns, underpaying employees and illegally withholding overtime pay.
The corporate giant tried to open a new store in East Patchogue, but was denied by the Town of Brookhaven’s Planning Board in August. The proposed 98,000 sq. ft. Walmart and 900 sq. ft. office building on the corner of Hospital Road and Sunrise Highway’s North Service Road was denied due to traffic concerns and plans to remove a sidewalk for a turning lane.
Town officials confirmed Walmart could amend their site plan and refile, but they found very limited public support for the project. Many area residents and chambers of commerce actively opposed the proposal.
In addition, Rocky Point business owners and civics turned back a Walmart proposal in recent years.
Vision Long Island opposed both Long Island applications.
Learn more about the Black Friday protests in Newsday or News 12 (subscription required).
Positive Feedback For Valley Stream Mixed-Use Project
Public comments were accepted by the Valley Stream Village Board this week about a proposed mixed-use development.
Applicant Kay Development Group of Manhattan would need a zoning change to build 36 two-bedroom apartments on the site.
As proposed, the Promenade would be located on North Central Avenue and house a 4,400 square-feet of retail on the ground floor and apartments on four stories above. If approved, it would occupy 11,350 square-feet, including an empty lot where the former Party Boutique closed after a fire in February; the developer has since purchased the property.
An attorney for the developer previously described the board as a luxury development with amenities like balconies with plantings, a lounge, gym and laundry room on each floor and a 5,000-square-foot roof garden. The building would also feature around-the-clock valet parking and an attended lobby, which Sullivan said would make the location safer for residents.
The development would also include 20 underground parking spaces and be within walking distance of the LIRR station.
The developer’s legal counsel also said Kay Development founder Bill Kefalas is a Valley Stream resident who has operated in the village for the past two decades.
According to published reports, Village Board assistant Vinny Ang said the Promenade would move Valley Stream in a positive direction. “You have to build high-density housing in your downtown areas,” Ang said, also citing Patchogue as an example of such success.
The board is slated to vote on recommending the zoning change to allow the mixed-use development on Dec. 15. If approved, the project’s next step would be a meeting with the Zoning Board of Appeals.
For more on this story, check out Herald Community Newspapers.
Promotion For Acting North Hempstead Building Boss
Don’t expect much change in the North Hempstead Building Department.
Acting Deputy Building Commissioner John Niewender was formally appointed as the town’s new building commissioner last week. The promotion takes effect Dec. 10.
“The town’s Building Department requires the leadership of a knowledgeable and dedicated Commissioner who is well-respected in his field and that person is John Niewender,” Supervisor Judi Bosworth said. “John has been working so diligently to implement my administration’s goal of providing exemplary customer service to the residents and professional contractors who use our services.”
Niewender has almost 11 years with the department. He’s handled a variety of duties since coming on board in 2004, including building safety inspection and illegal housing investigation. In his new role, the commissioner will be responsible for overseeing the administration of state and town codes.
“I am appreciative of Supervisor Bosworth’s confidence in me to direct the Building Department and its 45 employees,” he said. “I am looking forward to continuing to improve service and efficiency as we serve the residents of North Hempstead.”
He replaces Acting Commissioner Michael Levine.
The department had been the subject of a scandal, with four indicted in 2008 for accepting bribes. For more on the allegations and Niewender’s appointment, read this piece in The Island Now.
Find A Beautiful Holiday Gift Made By Local Artists
Shop locally this holiday season.
Check out the Holiday Gift Boutique at the East End Arts Gallery for a variety of unique and artsy gifts. The shop opens for business from Nov. 15 through Dec. 23 with hours every day except Monday.
Peruse handmade ornaments, one-of-a-kind jewelry, unique home goods and more. Every piece of product is made by more than 38 local artists.
East End Arts members receive a 15 percent discount on all purchases.
For more information about the Holiday Gift Boutique, check them out online.
Step Into A Charles Dickens-Era Port Jefferson
In early December, the streets of Port Jefferson transform into something special.
When the 19th annual Charles Dickens Festival takes place Dec. 5-7, characters like Father Christmas, Scrooge, the Town Crier and the Dickens Mayor will wander about. East Main Street will become Dickens Alley and the live music on traditional instruments will return in Fezziwig's Ball. An impressive model train display will be featured in Harbor Square Mall and, special readings by Mother Goose will take place at the Port Jefferson free library. Horse and carriage rides and the new Port Jeff Jitney bus will help transport visitors to the various venues throughout the village for the entire weekend.
Theater Three’s Jeffrey Sanzel has been named the honoree of the 19th Annual Charles Dickens Festival. His accomplishments will be recognized at the Opening Ceremony and before the Christmas Carol production the evening of Dec. 5 at the theater.
Building on the renowned festival, the Port Jefferson-Northern Brookhaven Arts Council will join the Village of Port Jefferson for a Festival of Trees event with a theme from the film “Frozen” deputing on Friday night. Children will be able to decorate their own Gingerbread houses and cookies.
Ice skating will also return at Village Center, with performances by musicians, a cappella groups and magicians. Santa Claus and his elves will be working in Santa’s Workshop on Nov. 30, Dec. 6-7, Dec. 13 and Dec. 20.
The event is open to the public and most attractions are free. Visit the event’s website for a full schedule of the Dickens Festival.
Meanwhile, the Victorian Walking Lanternlight House Tour will return on the evening of Dec. 6 from 4:30-8:30 p.m. Tickets for the tour are $25. The tour, plus ‘Seasonal Cheer Gathering’ is $45, which starts gathering at Oldfields Restaurant at 3:30 p.m. Call the chamber at 631-473-1414 for tickets.
Rockville Tudor Apartments Celebrating 85 Years
The Rockville Tudor was one of the first four-story apartment buildings on Long Island, and definitely the first in the Village of Rockville Centre.
And on Dec. 12, Village officials will celebrate the building’s 85th anniversary. The anniversary and proclamation event begins at 1 p.m. with an address by Mayor Francis Murray before an historical presentation and open house.
Throughout its 85-year history, the Rockville Tudor has been home to prominent individuals and events, including World War II command and operations.
The Rockville Tudor Corporation embarked on a full scale capital improvement plan to preserve and restore the historic integrity of the building for all shareholders and the village, including the replacement of the roof and windows, restoration of the Tudor facade and, installation of new stained glass windows. They finished the $1.5 million in improvements with lobby enhancements and furniture that captures the historic period significance.
For more on the Rockville Tudor, check them out online.
Get Building With Gingerbread For 2nd Annual LI Contest
Check the calendar, Christmas is 20 days away. That’s less than three weeks away.
Now is the time to sign up for Chocolate Duck’s 2nd annual Long Island Gingerbread House Competition. The Farmingdale-based cake-supply store is hosting the contest on Dec. 13 in the store.
Any gingerbread structure is eligible, not just houses, but it should be inspired by the Gold Coast Era.
Private judging will take place in the morning, with the show opened to the public at noon. Winners can compete for cash prizes, a 32-inch flat screen television and gift certificates.
Registration is open from now until Nov. 25. Adults will be charged a $25 fee and youths 17 and under will be charged a $5 fee. Registration forms can be found on the store’s website or the Village of Farmingdale’s website. For more information, contact Christine Bisbee via email.
EPA Opens $3.75 Mil Grants To Protect Freshwater
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is now accepting proposals to fund freshwater protection projects.
The Healthy Watersheds Consortium Grant is used to accelerate and expand the strategic protection of healthy freshwater ecosystems and their watersheds across the country. The EPA expects to issue a cooperative agreement to fund a single grantee to manage the Healthy Watersheds Consortium grant program and issue subawards on a competitive basis.
Applicants can be nonprofit organizations, non-governmental organizations, interstate agencies and inter-tribal consortia which are capable of undertaking activities that advance healthy watershed programs on a national basis.
Eligible entities for the subawards include public and private nonprofit institutions/organizations, federally recognized Indian tribal governments, states, local governments, U.S. territories or possessions, and interstate agencies. Anticipated federal funding under the competition is approximately $3.75 million over six years.
Proposals are due Jan. 5. For more information about the RFP and this grant, visit the EPA online.
Save Even More On Solar Photovoltaic Installations
Homeowners having solar panels placed on their roof can trim a few bucks off the bill, as well as their carbon footprint.
Public benefit corporation NYSERDA is offering incentives for solar photovoltaic systems at residential and small commercial across the state through their NY-Sun Incentive program.
Kicking in Aug. 13, the program provides rebates for up to 24 kilowatts at homes and 200 kilowatts on small commercial sites. Incentives are distributed via a Megawatt (MW) Block incentive structure that allocates MWs to specific regions of the State.
Systems may also qualify for tax credits: up to 30 percent of the system cost for federal and 25 percent of the system cost (up to $5,000 for a primary residence) for New York State.
Check out NY-Sun Incentive for more on this assistance.
NYSERDA also offers financing through Green Jobs – Green New York.
Residential customers can acquire loans up to $13,000, or $25,000 with higher cost-effectiveness standards, over 5, 10 or 15 years. The current interest rate is 3.49 percent.
Small businesses with 100 employees or less and not-for-profit organizations, can borrow up to $100,000 at half the market interest rate and On-Bill Recovery loans of up to $50,000 at 3 percent interest over 10 years.
Find a contractor on NYSERDA’s website to get started.
Grants Specialist Opening With Glen Cove CDA
League of Conservation Voters Seeking Comm. Director
Nassau Conservation District Needs Intern For Film
Intern with Vision Long Island!
What's happening on your Main Street this weekend?
The YMCA Boulton Center
37 West Main Street, Bay Shore
Tickets and more information available here
Cold Spring Harbor
The John W. Engeman Theater
250 Main Street, Northport
A Christmas Story - The Musical - Friday, Dec. 5 at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 6 at 3 and 8 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 7 at 2 and 7 p.m.
Frosty - Saturday, Dec. 6 at 11 a.m. and Sunday, Dec. 7 at 10:30 a.m.
Tickets and more information available here
9 Railroad Avenue, Patchogue
45 RPM with guest DRIVE - Friday, Dec. 5 at 8 p.m.
Saturday Night Dance Party - Saturday, Dec. 6 at 10 p.m.
Tantric - Sunday, Dec. 7 at 7 p.m.
Tickets and more information available here
Bay Street Theater
The Long Wharf, Sag Harbor
Hamptons Take 2 Documentary Film Festival - Thursday, Dec. 4 through Sunday, Dec. 7
Tickets and more information available here
Building NYC's Own 'Treasure Island'
Once a launching point for ocean liners, Manhattan's Pier 54 is sinking into the Hudson River. But an over-the-top island of open space and performance venues could come to life.
British designer Thomas Heatherwick
is designing a 10,000 square foot Pier 55, also known as Treasure Island, on the west side of the city. With media mogul Barry Diller and fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg committing $113 million of the $130 million price tag, plans call for a 700-seat, open-air ampitheater and no shortage of parkland atop 300 mushroom-shaped concrete supports. Construction is slated to begin 2016, with the park expected to open in 2019.
Newsletter Editor: Mike Koehler, Communications Director
Contributors: Tawaun Weber, Assistant Director; Elissa Kyle, Sustainability Director; Chris Kyle, Administrative Director
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