December 6th - 12th, 2015
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“When you buy local you support local families, promote employment and add to our tax base. Buying locally sustains the unique character and quality of life that exists in Rockville Centre.” - Rockville Centre Mayor Francis X. Murray speaking on the need to shop in downtowns this holiday season
Small Business Administration to Reopen Filing Period for Superstorm Sandy Survivors
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced it has reopened the filing period for survivors in all states affected by Superstorm Sandy on December 2, 2015 to apply for low-interest disaster loans. The new filing deadline for physical damage and economic injury losses is December 1, 2016.
“The additional time for businesses, homeowners and renters to request federal disaster loans will go a long way in continuing to support the rebuilding efforts of the communities affected by Superstorm Sandy,” said SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet. “I want to thank the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate and House Small Business Committees for their leadership on this issue. We look forward to working with them to make sure the needs of small businesses are met.” The recently approved Recovery Improvements for Small Entities (RISE) After Disaster Act of 2015 gives the SBA Administrator the authority to make disaster loans for Superstorm Sandy for a period of one year. Loans for residents will range between 1.688% and 3.375%, with business rates between 4% and 6%.
Friends of Long Island Program Consultant Jon Siebert said that while this is good news, there are some things of concern for residents and businesses to look into. “There is a good potential that residents and businesses could face Duplication of Benefits deductions from their NY Rising award if they are approved for an SBA loan,” said Siebert. Duplication of Benefits (DOB) occur when disaster victims are eligible to receive grants or loans from federal funding sources. “We are currently working with NY Rising and Touro Law Clinic to narrow down what items and activities may be subject to DOB, and how the reopening of the SBA program can assist people get home and back to business”. He suggests that those who are considering reopening a case with SBA to contact Touro for a consultation.You can read more about the SBA reopening here, including SBA contact and application information, and contact Touro Law Center’s free disaster relief legal services at (631) 761-7198.
AARP Celebrate Implentation of CARE Act
Vision joined dozens of AARP volunteers and other advocates for family caregivers celebrated the establishment of a new law last week that will support millions of family caregivers across New York when their loved ones go into the hospital and as they transition home.
The CARE Act was signed into law this fall and takes effect in April. It will ensure hospitals allow patients to designate a family caregiver and offer those caregivers instruction and demonstrations of health-related tasks they will be expected to provide for their loved ones at home, such as administering multiple medications and dressing wounds. The CARE Act is expected to help more New Yorkers age in their own homes – the most cost-effective approach and the one most New Yorkers want.
This common sense bill, Sponsored by State Senator Kemp Hannon, garnered the support of small businesses, labor, environmental and community organizations that comprise the 75 member Long Island Lobby Coalition in the last legislative session. It was also AARP’s top legislative priority for 2015. “We’re enormously thankful to Senator Hannon for recognizing the importance of the CARE Act and demonstrating bold leadership by making it a priority in the Legislature this year,” said Beth Finkel, State Director of AARP in New York State. ”With this bill, the Senator adds to his impressive list of initiatives that have helped New Yorkers and made a dramatic and positive influence on public health in our communities and across the state”.
In 2010 there was a potential pool of 6.6 people aged 45-65 for every person 80 and older who would likely need care at some point. That number will shrink to 4.8 by 2030 and 3.5 by 2050, highlighting the importance of proper assistance from hospitals during the transition back home. You can read more about the passage of this important bill here.
MTA / LIRR and Local Municipalities Tackle Parking
Two LIRR parking lots that the City of Glen Cove pays to maintain will now have reserved parking spaces for city residents after a unanimous 7-0 vote by the city council this week in an attempt to alleviate parking issues at the lots for resident commuters. “It’s important that we take care of our residents first,” said Mayor Reginald Spinello about the move to ban nonresident parking in most of the spaces available.
The new ordinance will reserve 90 spaces at each station which is more than half that are available, with the remaining spots open for anyone. In a recent check of the two lots, the city noted that about 50 of 180 spots were taken up by non-residents causing concern. One resident said that there is a lack of spaces when she has arrived at the station for a midmorning train, with winter having an uptick in usage when the weather makes it difficult for commuters to drive to the city, and when piles cover some of the spaces.
Spinello said that the plan is to allow nonresidents to use the lots on the weekends and starting in the late afternoon on weekdays. Vision Long Island has called on the MTA to bring its resources to areas like Glen Cove, urging for collaboration in both private and publicly-owned commuter parking spaces.
“There is a lot of downtown growth that is happening right now and parking solutions are part of the equation,” Vision director Eric Alexander said in an interview with CBS2. “They really should work together”. Glen Cove is not alone in its need for adequate parking for LIRR commuters. Last week, Islip Township announced that it will begin charging residents and non-residents for permit access to the Bay Shore parking lot, a move Glen Cove may make if the current ordinance and $250 fine for non-compliance does not.
You can read more about the change from CBS.
Three Long Island Villages Suspend Parking Fees for the Holidays
Three Long Island Villages are suspending parking fees in their downtowns in order to bring in more shoppers for their local businesses. Rockville Centre, Port Jefferson and Northport will be cutting the cost to their residents and visitors.
Rockville Centre, with 25 parking fields and on street parking for shoppers will be free on Saturdays in order to encourage more people to shop and browse the various small businesses in their downtowns. “When you buy local you support local families, promote employment and add to our tax base,” said Mayor Francis X. Murray. “Buying locally sustains the unique character and quality of life that exists in Rockville Centre.” Parking is ordinarily free after 4PM at all long-term unmetered parking in the village.
The Village of Port Jefferson announced that they are suspending all parking in the village until March, hoping to bring more shoppers to their unique port-side shopping and dining destinations during the off-season. Last week’s Dicken’s Festival included free parking in designated areas and a free jitney to and from designated free parking areas. The jitney usually operates in the summer months to bring shoppers through the downtown from free parking destinations such as the LIRR station. The program is paid from proceeds from the managed parking fund.
Meanwhile, the Village of Northport has quietly continued the practice of free parking in their downtown this season. In a festive move, all parking meters are wrapped in a festive manner reminiscent of gifts you might find under your tree. An annual tradition for many years, residents and visitors alike are both grateful to be able to do their shopping without having to worry about feeding the meter.
Source the Station Awards First Grant
Source the Station, a crowdsourced placemaking community, awarded their first Short-Term Action for Long-Term Change grant last week at the Fairground Bazaar event in Huntington Station.
The grant was awarded to create a mural at the Tri Community & Youth Agency by those in the community. The purpose of the mural is to document both the history and huge strides forward that Huntington Station is taking; as well as attract new visitors. "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," said artist Lucienne Pereira about the mural project. Once the finishing touches are put on the mural this week, it will be a traveling piece before finding a permanent home in the community.
“We're so excited so many members of the community came out to add their messages to the mural and we can't wait to work with other members of the community who apply for our placemaking grants, so they can also see their ideas become a reality,” said Elisabeth Muehlemann, Source the Station liason. You can check out and vote on some of the upcoming ideas for Huntington Station here.
Port Jefferson Celebrates 20th Annual Dickens Festival
The Village of Port Jefferson’s 20th Annual Dickens Festival was an amazing success last weekend, with over 10,000 people from across Long Island, other states and even other countries attending. The participation level was “off the charts” according to the Mayor’s office, complimented by above average weather and extra events for the 20th Anniversary celebration.
Downtown businesses benefitted greatly from the increased foot traffic, with restaurants packed out and stores reaping the benefits of holiday dollars coming in. Dozens of free events were available for residents and visitors to enjoy, including musical performances, tea parties, crafts for families, horse and buggy rides, and marshmallow roasting. This year, the Let There Be Light presentation at Village Hall drew thousands over the two-day event, with an impressive light show cascaded against Village Hall with those gathered around joining in sing-alongs.
The weekend ended with the Dickens parade, with dozens dressed in character- including chimney sweeps, Father Christmas and Scrooge- marching down Main Street. Mayor Garant wished all in attendance during the parade, throwing “snow” to those watching on the side of Main Street, saying that she “hopes this will be the only snow for December”. The Jitney service ran from the Port Jefferson LIRR Station up to the port every half hour free of charge to bring those from free parking sites provided to the event.
The Mayor’s office would like to remind folks that there are still many holiday events ongoing in the Village, including the festival of trees and Santa’s Workshop. You can check out News 12’s coverage of the annual event here.
A Message from Ken Daly: Investing in the Future of Energy on Long Island
Ken Daly is President of National Grid New York, in the message he speaks on National Grid preparing to file a rate case proposal for Long Island. The message has been formatted to fit our newsletter, but you can read the full statement along with accompanying charts here.
Everything we do begins and ends with the customer.
We provide essential natural gas services to our customers, and in turn we are allowed to recover the costs, plus a return on investment associated with providing those vital services. And we recover our costs every month from our customers in the form of a delivery charge, which is set by the New York State Public Service Commission (NYSPSC). In that monthly bill, the customer also receives a charge for the cost of the commodity – which we pass through without mark-up.
Understanding the breakdown of a customer bill– delivery, commodity & surcharges/taxes
As we know, customers care about the total bill – the combined charges for delivery and supply/commodity, along with taxes and surcharges. On Long Island, we have a good story to tell about customer bills over the past 10 years – especially going into this winter heating season – and the challenges we have as we prepare to file a rate case proposal in January 2016. Let’s begin with our need to reset delivery rates after nearly a decade of delivery rate stability.
Preparing to file a rate case proposal for our KEDLI operating company
National Grid has been making essential investments to modernize and grow a safer and more reliable natural gas system on behalf of our Long Island gas customers. The looming question is how do we continue to fund future investments in our gas system on behalf of the customers we serve?
National Grid delivery rates stable for almost 10 years and natural gas commodity prices are at all-time lows
Gas delivery base rates fund our investments to operate, maintain and modernize our gas system. As you can see from the chart below (adjusted for inflation), these rates have been relatively stable for nearly a decade. The chart also shows that with declining natural gas commodity prices, the total bill has gone down 25 percent in KEDLI.
Delivery rates lower than 1995 levels, while investments continue to rise
As a point of interest, if we adjust for inflation, delivery charges for KEDLI customers have actually gone down since 1995 as indicated in chart “A” below. However, you’ll also notice in charts “B” and “C”, shown on back, that our investments have increased substantially. And while historic return levels have been solid – our forecasted returns will continue to decline, presenting a challenge for us, and eventually for our customers.
An increase in investment is required so we can meet new compliance standards and replace aging infrastructure to provide customers with a safer, more reliable gas system. But our current base delivery rates prevent us from fully recovering the costs of the substantial investments we’ve been making – and need to make in the future. Not having adequate returns will affect our cost of credit and access to the capital markets unless we address it.
Over the past year, the S&P and Fitch rating agencies have downgraded our ratings for KEDLI, citing lower returns and our need to file a new rate case proposal. A stronger financial position will raise our ratings and give us better credit to borrow money at lower interest rates for future investments, ultimately allowing us to pass on savings to our customers.
It is clear that now is the time to reset these delivery rates. As a result, we plan to file a rate case proposal with the NYSPSC for our KEDLI operating company in January 2016, with new rates set to go into effect in January 2017.
Once we file, an 11-month litigated process takes place, with many interested parties providing input and testimony. We will also respond to requests for information from the Staff of the Department of Public Service during this period. New delivery rates will offset the rising cost of service and infrastructure upgrades, and maintain our financial stability by supporting access to the debt capital needed to finance investment in safety, reliability and capacity improvements – all of which will directly benefit our customers.
And while we are close to finalizing the costs we need to address in our rate filing, we anticipate our filing will require a substantial increase to the current delivery charges our customers pay.
Natural gas still has a pricing advantage over competing heating fuels
Let’s take a look at how the drop in commodity charges has lowered the total bill of our customers over the past 10 years and been much more economic than competing fuels. Based on current market forecasts, natural gas bills are expected to be at a 10-year low this winter because natural gas supply prices on the wholesale market continue to decline. Following is a chart illustrating the pricing advantage the natural gas commodity has had in KEDLI and continues to have over heating oil over the past 10 years.
This pricing advantage continues to keep existing customer bills low, attract new customers who wish to convert from oil to gas, and down the road, may help offset any increase to delivery rates as a result of our rate case proposal.
At National Grid, we believe that every plan we make, project we implement, process we improve and dollar we spend is on behalf of our customers – and the cost to achieve that must remain within the delivery rates set by the NYSPSC.
And it is our responsibility, as their energy provider, to manage those costs and submit a delivery base rate proposal that provides our customers with safe and reliable natural gas service. After 10 years of flat rates, this will require a significant increase in delivery base rates. Our challenge is to develop a proposal to meet the natural gas service needs of customers, provide the company with returns required to attract and retain investors, while at the same time, create a framework to help mitigate the total bill impact to our customers.
We remain committed to keeping you informed, and will re-connect with you in early 2016 after we finalize and submit our KEDLI rate case proposal to the NYSPSC.
Accessibility & Elevation Workshop to be held for Suffolk and Nassau Residents on December 14th
Living in an elevated home presents challenges for anyone but is especially difficult for people with disabilities, seniors, and others with access and functional needs. The Suffolk County Office for People with Disabilities is sponsoring an Accessibility & Elevation with NY Rising Workshop for eastern Suffolk and Western Nassau county residents.
The workshop will address design solutions, policies, and equipment that can be used to make homes both resilient and accessible by planning space with accommodations such as elevators or lifts, to assist anyone with or without a disability. On Monday, December 14th, free legal services will be available between 4:30-6:30PM, with the Home Elevation & Accessibility forum to follow from 6:30PM-8PM at the Babylon High School Cafeteria, Babylon Junior-Senior High, 50 Railroad Avenue, Babylon 11702. For questions about accessibility or to request accommodations to this event, please contact Frank Krotschinsky, (631) 853-8333.
Feed the Need South Show to Hold 4th Annual Toy & Hot Meal Giveaway on December 26th
Feed the Need South Shore will be holding its 4th Annual Toy & Hot Meal Giveaway in East Islip this year to help those in need during the holiday season. This year’s event will be held at Teatro YERBABRUJA Arts Center at 63 Carelton Avenue, Central Islip on December 26th from 10am until toys and food run out. This year’s Thanksgiving event fed over 2,250 residents while providing those in need with coats, blankets.
Due to the overwhelming need of the area, donations of toys for all ages and food are still being accepted until December 23rd. Those that are able to donate can email Feed the Need, or call (631) 336-6427. Cash donations which help the program operate can be donated via Paypal.
To volunteer for the event, you or a team can sign up starting Monday December 14th here. The cut-off date to sign up to volunteer will be December 21st. Due to the overwhelming generosity of volunteers during the holiday season, registration is required.
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.
FEMA Accepting Applications for Assistance to Firefighters Grant
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has announced that applications are being accepted for the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) for fiscal year 2015. Approximately 2500 grants will be awarded; this year’s total funding for the program will be $306 million.
The primary goal of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) is to meet the firefighting and emergency response needs of fire departments and nonaffiliated emergency medical service organizations. Since 2001, AFG has helped firefighters and other first responders to obtain critically needed equipment, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training, and other resources needed to protect the public and emergency personnel from fire and related hazards.
The deadline to apply for the AFG grant is January 15th, 2015 at 5PM EST. Live webinars are available between Monday, December 14th to Thursday, December 17th to aide in the grant process. You can find webinar information here. For more information or to apply, click here.
Intern with Vision Long Island!
What's happening on your Main Street this weekend?
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Garvies Point Museum and Preserve
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Bow Tie Port Washington
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Cold Spring Harbor
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Downtown Retail Shopping Should be on Your List this Year
As the Holiday season kicks into high gear and we move past the time of screaming crowds wrestling toys from each other's arms in the name of the almighty deal, it's important to remember local retailers can provide good deals with a lot less of the headache involved in fighting the crowd. Mom and Pop stores in your downtown are open and ready to help you with all your Holiday shopping, so don't forget to head on down and see what kind of deals you can find. You might just be able to find that one special deal or item that you couldn't find anywhere, and you'll help your neighbors in the process!