Sustainable Long Island
August 10, 2010
Sustainable Long Island News Brief
In This Issue
Federal, Local officials discuss Long Island Revitalization
Live from Briarcliffe College
Finally, Suburban Problems Noticed
Board of Directors
Ruth Negron-Gaines- President

Kevin McDonald - Vice President

The Nature Conservancy 

Charlotte Biblow, Esq. - Secretary

Farrell Fritz, P.C.

Lauren Furst - Treasurer

Russ Albanese

Albanese Organization Inc.

Lennard Axinn

Island Estates

Peter Bogan

Dr. Calvin O. Butts, III
SUNY College at Old Westbury

Dr. Miriam K. Deitsch

State University at Farmingdale

Michelle DiBenedetto

Long Island Housing Partnership

Pat Edwards


Donald J. Fiore

IBEW, Local 25

Richard Grafer

Amy Hagedorn
Hagedorn Foundation

David Kapell

Jeff Kraut

North Shore - LIJ Health System

George O'Neill

Mitchell H. Pally

Weber Law Group, LLP

Dr. Robert A. Scott

Adelphi University

Ron Shiffman

Pratt Institute

Robert Wieboldt

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Yesterday, August 9, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer opened a meeting with high-level officials of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Transportation (DOT), and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), all members of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, to discuss and better understand the needs, obstacles and red tape experienced by localities as they seek to revitalize downtown cores and promote sustainable development. The meeting comes on the heels of Schumer's call this past May that federal agencies assist local communities in navigate the bureaucracy that often bogs down local development plans. In the meeting, the partnership mapped out areas of coordination in downtown housing, environmental, and transportation planning to promote sustainable development methods to revitalize local economies in the area.

Schumer joined with local sustainability advocates on Long Island including Sustainable Long Island and Vision Long Island as well as the Hofstra University Center for Suburban Studies in an effort to promote downtown revitalization and sustainable development throughout the area.

Federal, Local officials discuss Long Island Revitalization


Last June, EPA, DOT, and HUD formed the Partnership for Sustainable Communities to promote the coordination of downtown housing, transportation and environmental investments at the local planning level. Over 20 Long Island town and village officials met directly with federal agency staff to present downtown visions and describe their implementation challenges and needs.  This is the first official meeting of the new federal partnership in America's suburbs.

Schumer believes that this initiative has the potential to transform metropolitan areas by bringing back economic competitiveness, increased access to employment opportunities, and the greater availability for transit options.

In May, Schumer and local partners asked for members of the Sustainable Partnership to hold a public meeting and work session with local government officials and planning advocates. Schumer called on Partnership to plan a visit to Long Island to learn about some of the initiatives in both Nassau and Suffolk counties that embrace ideals like transit-oriented development that will help revitalize and rebuild downtowns and walkable communities.

"Finally, suburban problems are getting noticed," said Sarah Lansdale, Executive Director of Sustainable Long Island. "Long Island's downtown revitalization and transit-oriented development plans need more than just local officials and community planners fighting for them; these plans need federal assistance.  Long Island has the ingredients to become the epitome of what the suburbs should be, but it is much easier said than done. Senator Schumer and The Partnership for Sustainable Communities have taken a tremendous step forward in identifying which communities haven't received a fair share of the limited resources available."

"This event connects Long Island's main streets to Washington. The smallest municipalities are connecting to Federal agencies, which has not happened in a coordinated fashion, not just on Long Island but any suburban area in the nation.  The strength of Long Island resides in its many downtowns. This new Federal partnership could provide the resources necessary to assist the revitalization of our downtowns and support needed sewer and transit infrastructure," said Eric Alexander, Executive Director of Vision Long Island.
"These are not your mother and father's suburbs," said Lawrence Levy, Executive Director of the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University.  "Demographic change, economic dysfunction, environmental degradation and other challenges have transformed the suburbs in ways that demand a new federal approach that helps us solve our problems. Too many people in Washington and elsewhere still believe the myths of suburban wealth and wellness. I hope that what the federal officials learn during their visit will help change attitudes and inspire change in Washington and Long Island. Thank you Senator Schumer for bringing us together."

The Partnership defines sustainability to include economic competitiveness, environmental health and equity, and access to jobs and transit, to help determine which projects are funded. Nassau and Suffolk Counties offer a variety of opportunities to use the Partnership's principles to transform communities and blighted downtown areas with new housing, retail, and public transportation centers.  

The latest Census notes that more than 50% of the US population now lives in the suburbs.  As the oldest suburb, Long Island is a laboratory for what works and doesn't work for these communities. In anticipation of a public meeting, Schumer will solicit the participation of local elected officials, planners, and community advocates regarding sustainability projects that have interest or business before the 3 federal agencies.


Live from Briarcliffe College in Patchogue
Followers get to attend the event through cyber-space


As one of the participating organization in the event we wanted to give our followers, who have a vested interest in the issue, a first-hand account of some of the days exciting moments. Members of our online community were able to follow along live on Twitter and Facebook and here is a quick glance and what they got to experience:

Lots of attendees starting to file in to Briarcliffe Patchogue awaiting Senator Schumer and the EPA, HUD, and DOT officials. Very exciting! about

Our table for the day. Others include Environmental Facilities Corp., EPA, Hofstra, Vision LI.

"(Long Island) is not your mothers' or fathers' suburbs... not even your childrens' suburbs." - Larry Levy, Hofstra University

"We are working on Smart Growth Technical Assistance, Brownfields Projects, and much more." - John Frece EPA


"This grant is for communities who really want to do the redevelopment... need the resources... and have a plan." - Shelley Poticha, HUD

John Frece EPA emphasizing on GHG's and how smart growth is important to our success!

Senator Charles Schumer has arrived to address the crowd.

"This meeting involves our future. If suburbs are going to grow and evolve, we're going to have to figure out HOW." - Senator Schumer

"I am committed and looking forward to working with you on the future of Long Island in the 21st century." - Senator Schumer

"If (downtown revitalization) is going to happen, then it's going to happen here first!" - Senator Schumer

"We need to put the needs of Long Island downtowns in front of federal agencies and that is just what is happening today." - Senator Schumer

"We can really make sure the next generation will stay here. Having (affrd) housing options, and revitalizing downtowns is key." - Senator Schumer

"Long Island has to figure out how to reinvigorate suburban life. In the end, we want to young raised on Long Island to stay here as adults."

For more great updates on today's meeting follow @mdorn and @Jimmy_Cotocon

Shelley Poticha says funds from grant programs can be used towards the real mechanics on how to put together a strategy on implementation.

Attendees continually asking panel how we can cut through the red tape.

Supervisor of Town of Riverhead begging on his knees (in jest) about the EPA auditing them. Crowd loves it!

Money to build sewer treatment plants comes from the EPA and we pass it to NYS-there is a waiting list, not nearly enough money. - Judith Enck

During Q+A Panel, Attendee makes point that if Long Island were a nation we would be third in population density.

"Focusing on low-income neighborhoods, we solve this issue neighborhood by neighborhood." - Judith Enck

This partnership extends out to every facet of American life, outside of sustainable development it focuses on regional+economic strategies.


Breakout sessions are underway. Steve Bellone discussing potential project in Wyandanch.

Rockville Centere revitalization presentation.

Hon. Phil Nolan of Islip presenting the towns presentation to the federal agencies.

Kelly Morris, ExecDir Community Dev. Agency of Glen Cove, presents development of a waterfont in the town; used as industrial center.

Town of Brookhaven sharing their idea on creating an efficent bicycle friendly road way on Middle Country Road.

A who's who of municipal presentations: Hon. Ralph Suozzi, Hon. Mark Lesko, Hon. Dan Panico, Hon. Anna Throne Holst, Hon. Jack Martins.....

Hon. Steve Bellone, Hon. Connie Kepert, Hon. Sean Walter, Hon. James Wooten, Hon. Dorothy Goosby, Hon. Chuck Joyce, Hon. George Starkie.....

Hon. Don Barbieri, Hon. Gina Demeri, Hon. Margo Grant, Hon. Paul Pontieri, Hon. Frank Petrone, John Giordano, Kevin Mulligan, Michael Levine

All present or represented during presentations to the partnership! NYS SmartGrowth Cabinet member and LIRPC members also set to speak.

Finally, Suburban Problems Noticed
February 2010 Newsday article first discusses initiative

As you may know, this "game-changing" meeting was first announced at Sustainable Long Island's 4th Annual Sustainability Conference on June 4, focused on the Green Economy. Senator Schumer was a keynote speaker at the conference and specifically mentioned our February 2010 op-ed in Newsday as a key part of this initiative. If you haven't already had the chance to check it out, read on below:


By Sarah Lansdale - Executive Director of Sustainable Long Island
Deeohn Ferris - President of Sustainable Community Development Group

Ever wondered how governments make decisions? On the local, state or federal level, who decides which projects are funded and in what order? How much for each project?

The answers to these questions become even more critical when all communities across the country are vying for limited dollars to stimulate their local economies through projects like road repairs, revitalizing blighted properties or installing much-needed sewers.

Distributing resources for these competing projects becomes a matter of prioritizing. In the past, this has usually meant that Long Island - and particularly Long Island's communities of color - haven't received a fair share of resources; our two counties are often perceived as uniformly wealthy. But recent changes through a federal initiative have the potential to reverse those trends.

Last June, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency joined together to form the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. This unprecedented initiative coordinates federal housing, transportation and environmental investments; protects public health and the environment; promotes equitable development; and helps address the challenges of climate change.

This initiative is a potential game-changer for Long Island. For one thing, the suburbs are a specific target for the partnership's resources. For years, federal and state policies and programs have focused on central cities, and to some extent rural areas, with a blind spot for the suburbs.

Long Island and other suburbs are often mistaken as places with little need and an abundance of resources to take care of things themselves. But as Long Islanders have known for years - and the recent economic downturn has accentuated - there are deep pockets of poverty here, and resources are stretched thin to cover budget cuts and increasing needs.

The new partnership's focus on sustainable development is also encouraging. The term "sustainability" is thrown around a lot, meaning a variety of green things. The partnership defines it to include economic competitiveness, environmental health and equity - access to opportunities for things like jobs and transit for minority communities - to help determine which projects are funded. The inclusion of equity is critical to undo years of neglect and to ameliorate disinvestment from these communities. Only when there is a purposeful directing of dollars to communities of color can we hope to create a region where your ZIP code and/or school district doesn't dictate the value of your home and your future prospects.

We've all experienced the feeling that government agencies work in silos. The Partnership for Sustainable Communities is a critical initiative to enable HUD, DOT and EPA to work in a purposefully coordinated way. As a part of this, a number of pilot programs are in the works. Earlier this month, the Clean Water State Revolving Fund Pilot was announced. New York is one of three states selected to receive assistance to ensure that water infrastructure investments are coordinated with transportation projects so roads don't need to be torn up twice. It's an important opportunity for Long Island, which needs sewers to revitalize downtowns throughout Suffolk County.

While hardly a cure-all for suburban ailments, the Partnership for Sustainable Communities has the potential to increase resources and support to Long Island's most distressed communities. As areas across the country compete for funds, that's good news for our too-long overlooked neighbors.
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Sarah Lansdale, Executive Director
ainable Long Island