Sustainable Long Island
September 2010
Sustainable Long Island Newsletter
The one-stop-shop...
For all Sustainable Long Island news!
In This Issue
New York Times Column
Edible East End Feature
Food Equity Resource Guide
Long Island Business News Editorial
AvalonBay at Huntington Station
MTA Public Hearing
Two Roads Diverged On Long Island
Brownfields to Greenfield$
News and Notes
Board of Directors
Ruth Negron-Gaines- President
---------------

Kevin McDonald - Vice President

The Nature Conservancy
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Charlotte Biblow, Esq. - Secretary

Farrell Fritz, P.C.
---------------

Lauren Furst - Treasurer

---------------

Russ Albanese

Albanese Organization Inc.

---------------

Lennard Axinn

Island Estates

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Robert Bernard

Capital One Bank
---------------

Peter Bogan

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

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Dr. Miriam K. Deitsch

State University at Farmingdale

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Michelle DiBenedetto

Long Island Housing Partnership

---------------

Pat Edwards

Citibank

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Donald J. Fiore

IBEW, Local 25

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Richard Grafer

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Amy Hagedorn
Hagedorn Foundation

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David Kapell

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Jeff Kraut

North Shore - LIJ Health System

---------------

George O'Neill

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Mitchell H. Pally

Weber Law Group, LLP

---------------

Dr. Robert A. Scott

Adelphi University

---------------

Ron Shiffman

Pratt Institute

---------------

Robert Wieboldt

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Greetings!

An exciting month for Sustainable Long Island this September as leaves begin to change and summer turns to fall. In this newsletter, check out the inspiring New York Times column on the Roosevelt Farmers' Market and an informative op-ed in the Long Island Business News on supermarket closings. Also we're excited to tell you that our website is currently being redesigned and scheduled to re-launch later this fall. Until then check out your one-stop-shop for all Sustainable Long Island news below!


SLI

Fresh Vegetables Where Fast Food Reigns
New York Times Column by Peter Applebome

NY Times

At 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, Kevin Freeland drives a white Ford van into the parking lot at the Freeport-Roosevelt Health Center in one of Long Island's poorest communities. Lettered on the side are the words Vets Transportation, and the van's 14 seats have been removed. Inside are 63 boxes of fresh produce he picked up from four farms on Long Island's East End that morning, after beginning his day at the shelter for homeless veterans where he's staying in Yaphank.

People, mostly women with small children and the elderly, begin to filter into the lot about the same time. They form a line of about 40 people and wait patiently for 10 minutes or so until one of the workers ushers them forward and the Roosevelt Community Farmers' Market opens at 11.

This is not the new omnivore's playland of the Union Square Greenmarket or the ambitious farmers' markets you can find in Port Washington, Huntington or other affluent Long Island communities. There are no artisanal cheeses, heirloom tomatoes, $8 organic breads, grass-fed beef, spinach/goat cheese quiches or local musicians singing James Taylor songs. Instead it is just three tables full of fresh produce: corn, broccoli, eggplant, collard greens, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, cilantro and the rest, neatly arrayed on tables under white Quik Shade canopy tents.

Still, if the bustling farmers' market is today's most coveted suburban amenity, this is one for those pretty much left out of the game. In a world where the slow-food, eat-local, simple-beats-processed gospel of Michael Pollan et al. tends to be the playbook only for those with a little (or a lot) extra to spend, Roosevelt's new market seems to be prospering, a small bit of food equity in a world where eating can be pretty Darwinian, too.

"Honestly, this is a blessing," said Mr. Freeland, a 45-year-old Navy veteran, who does two janitorial jobs, formerly owned a janitorial business in Atlanta and has been homeless since his apartment was flooded out this year. "You get the food direct from the farm - they're still cleaning it off when I get there. You can't get more fresh than that."

The Roosevelt market is one of two on Long Island - the other is in North Bellport - organized by Sustainable Long Island, which works on sustainable agriculture and development projects, and the Long Island Farm Bureau in conjunction with other organizations and local groups, particularly in this case the Roosevelt Community Revitalization Group. The idea is to provide fresh food to communities where obesity, diabetes and high-cholesterol problems are epidemic and where local food options tend more to fast food than healthful ones. In addition to the produce, the market has featured nutritionists and health information.

"There seems to be this perception that low-income communities don't have the same needs and interests when it comes to food, and we do," said Clara Gillens-Eromosele, one of the leaders of the Roosevelt revitalization group. "We're not looking to have more fast food in our community. We're looking to educate people about alternatives."

In its first year, the market has succeeded beyond expectations. Total sales have increased from $260 in the first week to about $1,400 now. Still, the most popular currency is $24 in federal vouchers ($20 for eligible older people) that can be used only at farmers' markets. Whether people will participate after they've used the vouchers - from WIC, the federal nutrition program - isn't entirely clear.

On Sunday, people show up early, having heard that the market sells out each week well before the scheduled 4 p.m. closing time. A few take public transportation, like Constantine Mangos, 61, who took the bus from Hempstead. "The corn last week was so fresh, I couldn't stop eating it," he said. "I come religiously - I should be in church." Most drive, from Roosevelt, Freeport, Uniondale and other nearby towns.

The broccoli, available for the first time, sells out first. Then the tomatoes; then almost everything but the first pumpkins of the season. The market closes down at 3, with whatever is left over given to local food pantries.

It may be a stretch to believe a once-a-week farmers' market will have a huge impact on eating patterns. Tavis Nembhard drove his grandmother, Avril Powell, still in her church dress, who bought three dozen ears of corn for herself and various family members. "The kids want that big M," he said, referring to McDonald's. Still, in the warm sun, everyone happily lugging home burlap bags of corn and boxes of squash, eggplant, lettuce, peppers and the rest, it felt, at the least, like a step in the right direction.

Farmers' Markets to the Rescue
Feature in Edible East End By Eileen M. Duffy

Edible East EndLast year, when the Southold-based food consulting firm Karp Resources convened a group of Long Island food influencers-grocers, farmers, politicians-it presented some daunting data for Nassau and Suffolk Counties: fast food joints per 1000 people, diabetes rates per town, the relative dearth of farms and farm stands especially Upisland. The result, as much in rich as poor communities across America, is that often many people lack access to fresh produce and therefore eat cheap fast food, spend too much on packaged food at corner stores and then suffer the health consequences of such a diet.

So Sustainable Long Island, a nonprofit focused on community development, which commissioned the research from Karp Resources, cut through the despair, and found some hope in a solution that has come to the rescue of many communities lacking in healthy food options: farmers markets.

In mid-July, youth-run farmers markets opened in North Bellport (in western Suffolk County) and Roosevelt (in Nassau County), two areas well-known for being on the short end of the food equity stick. On the first day they sold out of beets and cabbage.

"Some of the kids were having beets for the first time," says Sarah Lansdale, executive director of Sustainable Long Island."They were starting to share recipes."

Created in conjunction with the Long Island Farm Bureau and public and private funds, the markets will run on Sundays through October. This twist on traditional farmers markets-with youth paid to run the stands-relieves the farmers from having to be being present so they can focus instead on growing the food.

"This is a prime example of local people and businesses working together to make their community a better place to live," says Joseph Gergela, Long Island Farm Bureau executive director, "providing opportunities for job growth, improving healthy lifestyles, adding to the viability of the agricultural industry, and reducing the carbon trail."

The produce comes from local farms; that cabbage was grown in Brookhaven at Deer Run Farms, and the beets came from Schmitt & Sons in Riverhead. Homeless veterans are driving the delivery trucks to the markets.

Lansdale believes the project itself will be sustainable and hopes to open more markets next year. Creating jobs for teens, helping farmers bring their goods to market and providing healthy food for the community allows Lansdale to use an oft-cited description with twist-it's a win-win-win.

Food Equity Resource Guide

At a recent Long Island Regional Planning Council meeting, we provided attendees with our Food Equity Resource Guide. This guide is a collection of resources and articles about projects and policies related to food access and community planning. We posted the album on Facebook and encourage you to take a look through this unique gathering of resources.

FE guideFE guideFE guide

Shuttered Supermarkets Hurt Local Biz
Featured in the Long Island Business News (LIBN) - By John Durso, President of The Long Island Federation of Labor and Sarah Lansdale, Executive Director of Sustainable Long Island.

Photo Credit: Groceteria.com
Lately, it seems that at almost every main street corner, a longstanding supermarket is no longer present. Many believe these supermarket closures are a sign of these recessionary times.

It was announced last month that the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. will shut down 25 of its stores located across Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania by the end of this year. Three Long Island locations including a Pathmark in Garden City, and two Waldbaums' - one in Centereach and one in Levittown - would fall victim to the closures.

Shoppers who used the soon-to-be closed locations for their grocery needs will have to find an alternative. Many workers who had stable employment will now begin searching within the unstable job market. Those who are union members may have the option to transfer to other locations, but unfortunately many nonunion employees may not have that alternative. The majority of those laid off will have to scramble for new jobs and unemployment insurance, if eligible. According to the New York State Department of Labor, from July 2009 through July 2010 - just weeks before A&P's announcement - employment within Long Island grocery stores had increased by a few hundred jobs. With this latest news, that trend will surely be reversed.

Despite the fact that these market closings are in areas not considered low-income, access to fresh, affordable food options still remains a top issue. Sustainable Long Island and other organizations continue to address the issue of food equity - working to maintain or establish a variety of food purchasing options on Long Island. The fewer shopping options may not only increase food costs but may decrease the convenience of finding healthy options to buy and eat.

The loss of these neighborhood grocery stores may also decrease property values, shrink the communities' tax base and contribute to stagnant sprawl. As rivals of A&P look on, many wonder if the other supermarket chains will look to purchase the soon to be abandoned real estate. When these stores shut down, blight often begins. The community will suffer from the visual and physical effects of an empty parking lot and vacant building. This blight will not only drive away new residents and community members, but new businesses looking to fill the economic void these closures will bring.

In addition, grocery stores are typically key community spaces that help the overall economy of the neighborhood. These stores could be characterized as "anchor businesses," one major company that is placed next to or in the middle of other smaller shops and strip malls to support the economic development of the surrounding stores. A store like a Pathmark or a Waldbaums brings in the major business to the area while promoting the local community around them. For example, the Waldbaums in Levittown is located within the parking lot of several smaller shops and is directly across the street from a former K-Mart - also a former anchor business now reduced to a neighborhood blemish. When these anchor stores close down, the smaller stores are left to survive on their own.

We are encouraged by Gov. David Paterson's statement last December launching the Healthy Food/Healthy Communities Initiative, which will support the development and expansion of fresh food retailers in urban and rural communities throughout New York. We await the announcement of the program guidelines of this $30 million loan and grant fund that will bring healthy food options and access to fresh food markets to residents across our region.

Perhaps it's just a sign of the times that supermarkets are closing during an era when the lack of access to fresh food has become a national problem; when hundreds of good union jobs may be lost, impacting families financially and personally; where blight slowly creeps into potentially revitalized downtowns. We all must get involved in our communities and support our local business to make sure the long-term effects of these closures do not impact the town where we live, play and work.

AvalonBay at Huntington Station
Will they or won't they?

The AvalonBay project at Huntington Station will finally go to vote at the Town Board's meeting later today, September 21. Both supporters and opponents have been rallying, protesting, and urging all those who will listen to take a stand one way or another. Huntington Supervisor Frank Petrone and numerous Council Members have been bombarded with letters, emails, and phone calls the past few weeks and even an AvalonBay press conference was held on September 7th on the front lawn of Town Hall. Sustainable Long Island was one of the organizations to speak that day and featured below are our comments supporting the project:

Photo Credit: http://avalonhuntingtonstation.com
Avalon

Sustainable Long Island endorses the AvalonBay project and Huntington's redevelopment efforts that embody the very ideas on which Smart Growth is based. It is not only important for other Long Island communities to incorporate similar developments in their own communities, but it is essential for the future growth of Long Island.

The benefits that Huntington would receive as a result of this project would also spread into neighboring communities:

- A transit-oriented development, located near the local train station would promote a vibrant, walkable community.

- With safety one of the major concerns to residents of the area, a safe, lighted walkway leading to the train station would be implemented.

- With traffic issues causing much worry among the public, this project will pay for a new traffic light on Park Avenue, one of the main areas of concern.

- With a predicted 25% rental affordable housing, it offers a range of options for young and old Long Islanders looking for a place to settle down.

- Along with the creation of jobs and the 75% market rate tax base, this project is a positive step for the community.

We have a long way to go to see this project come to fruition, with naysayers remaining loud and persistent, but with your support we will move forward. Sustainable Long Island urges everyone who supports this project to call Supervisor Petrone, write letters to the town board, and  even email council members, to show that AvalonBay is an economic wake-up call for the revitalization of Huntington Station.

MTA Public Hearing - September 16th
Our comments on the MTA cuts to LI Bus

MTAGood evening.Thank you for this opportunity to testify today. Sustainable Long Island is a regional not-for-profit organization whose mission is to promote community and economic development, environmental health, and equity for all Long Islanders now and for generations to come.

We work with communities across the Island, engaging them in community meetings and developing community plans to help build a more sustainable Long Island.  Through our work we know that many Nassau residents use buses for work, school, and their daily routines.  About 8% of Nassau households, who are also from low-income communities, do not have access to cars and depend solely on the bus system.  Long Island buses serve over 32 million riders a year, over 100,000 riders a day and are an integral component in Nassau County's transit system, fostering economic development, reducing congestion and protecting the environment.

 

Discontinuing the Bus service completely would be detrimental to so many including our low-wage workforce, seniors, physically disabled and young folk that do not have access to cars.  The low-wage workers, especially, are at the center of our region's economy-the domestic, department store, convenience store, electronic assembly, garment, hotel, and restaurant workers, the security guards, and the street vendors.  Everything they do-transporting children to and from schools and childcare facilities; going to work; looking for work; attending community colleges; even enjoying modest forms of recreation- depends upon a viable public transportation system.  Cutting the bus system would make it very difficult for these residents to continue their normal daily routines and put their families' well being in jeopardy.   It is important to add that many low-wage workers are from lower-income communities and are historically marginalized populations and people of color.TMTAherefore the Long Island Bus cut would contribute significantly to environmental injustice and indirectly violate Titles III and IV of the Civil Rights Act.  Title III prohibits state and municipal governments from denying access to public facilities on grounds of race, religion, gender, or ethnicity; whereas Title VI, prevents discrimination by government agencies that receive federal funding.  If an agency is found in violation of Title VI, that agency can lose its federal funding. 

Also, the Long Island Bus cut would also significantly affect the economic development of the region and contribute to losses in jobs and businesses, as residents would not be able to travel to, maintain and support them.  In a time when jobs are harder to come by such drastic reductions in transportation service will have a severe negative impact on our communities' economic and environmental health and lead to further congestion and pollution.

The proposed fare hikes and bus cuts burden the very people who should be incentivized to continue to use public transportation.  In fact, Long Island bus ridership increased in the months preceding the major service cuts that took place in late June 2010, and Long Island's bus ridership outpaced the targeted ridership by almost 2%.  This means that more people recognize and prefer to use public transportation, and there is a great opportunity for the MTA to promote further ridership. 

The Long Island bus cut is also sending the wrong message to businesses and developers about where and how the region should grow as they determine where to locate jobs.  By cutting bus service we are making suburbs even more economically segregated. 

 

We need buses on Long Island.  While Nassau County is proposing a privatized bus system, it does not seem feasible that it would be able to operate one with the level of service that is expected, especially considering the current funding it provides the MTA. 

We are also aware that a regional bus study which could put the Long Island Bus on firm financial footing is included in MTA's current capital plan.  The wiser decision would be to wait to receive the study. 

We are not here to lay blame.  We know that MTA faces crushing deficit and recognize the challenges of this dire situation.  There is also a lot more Nassau County, the state and federal governments could do.   

 

We are requesting that the MTA consider increasing tolls, for example at the East River bridge, as well as strongly consider congestion pricing to solve its deficits instead of cutting its services for those who support and use it the most. 

 

We are requesting that Nassau County act in good faith and in the public interest and increase its contribution of funding which is decreasing annually and work with the MTA to identify a sustainable funding stream.   

 

MTAMTA prides itself that it is largely responsible for the fact that energy consumption and CO2 output of New Yorkers is approximately a quarter of the national average.  MTA states, and I quote, "By improving, and expanding these efficiencies, the MTA can serve as a national model and regional platform for sustainable growth in the 21st century."  I ask you, are these service cuts symbols of sustainable growth?  I would say that they are in fact the antithesis of it.

 

Nassau County administration has pledged to bring back economic development and devoted itself to help businesses in the county.  However, by cutting the transportation mode to businesses, how are they to flourish?   

 

MTA is not committing itself to sustainable growth; and Nassau County is not supporting local businesses by cutting bus lines, our blood lines to economic development and environmental health. 

 

Once again, we urge you to make sustainable choices; the current ones including fare hikes, funding cuts and privatization are not acceptable.

 

Thank you.


***These comments were changed during the meeting to reflect others input and already discussed speaking points. This is to be viewed as more of an outline than the exact testimony.
Two Roads Diverged on Long Island...
By Robert Fruedenberg, Long Island Director, RPA



In Nassau County, the Village of Freeport is on the verge of adopting a master plan for its struggling station area and aging North Main Street commercial corridor. The plan - prepared by RPA in association with Moule & Polyzoides and Sustainable Long Island- envisions the transformation of 86 acres of parking fields and underutilized buildings around the train station into a more dense, vibrant, mixed-use downtown community. Infrastructure improvements and a road diet are slated to convert the speedy and barren North Main Street into a walkable, livable community street.


Brownfields to Greenfield$
Updated Version To Be Released This Fall

BrownfieldSustainable Long Island is currently working on updating the Brownfields to Greenfields manual to be released later this month. The programs and initiatives involved with cleanup and redevelopment of brownfields are constantly evolving. The purpose of this manual is to provide an understanding of the brownfield redevelopment process and the opportunities available in New York.It is designed to provide information for local government officials seeking to facilitate brownfield redevelopment in their communities, citizens hoping to understand how the process affects them, developers and investors seeking to participate in this growing marketplace, groups that wish to facilitate the redevelopment process, and end-users of redeveloped property.

The ultimate goal is to facilitate full stakeholder participation in the brownfield process. This manual provides information on: New York State, federal, and private funding and financial incentives; technical assistance and liability protection available for the cleanup and redevelopment of brownfield sites in New York State; and an overview of the various brownfield programs administered by the New York State Department of State (NYSDOS).

 
News and Notes

Here's a quick glance into just a handful of the events and meetings we have been participating in and attending. For a full up-to-the minute list of all the latest happenings follow us on...

 Find us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter

Video posted September 8th to Facebook
Youtube

Sustainable Long Island Heading to the Long Island Regional Planning Council meeting at Molloy College. A packed agenda is on tap including discussions on the AvalonBay Project and the MTA. Sustainable Long Island will be presenting on Food Equity, with recommendations for the LI 2035 Regional Sustainability Plan.

Sustainable Long Island Earlier we attended the HIA-LI 16th Annual Business Achievement Awards, honoring outstanding Long Island Companies. Tonight we're headed to the Middle Country Coalition meeting, discussing updates on projects within Selden and Centereach. We also will be at Kodiak's Restaurant in Farmingdale for the Young Adult Allianc...e Power Pregame - gathering young professionals who help mobilize other young adults on Long Island.

Sustainable Long Island Market Update: Great turn out on Labor Day Weekend where many items were ready for grilling including yellow peppers, corn, and eggplant. We had over 300 Senior and WIC checks used! Cornell Cooperative Extension used one bunch of arugula to demonstrate how it can be used in a salad and as a result it flew off the table...! They will also be providing the students with additional nutrition training in the coming weeks.

Sustainable Long Island At a local farming summit planning meeting discussing the status of faming on Long Island, current programs, and successes here and in other areas. Yesterday we visited Congressman Steve Israel's office to discuss numerous issues of food equity.

Sustainable Long Island Last week we attended Legislator Vivian Viloria Fisher's victory garden task force and attended a meeting held by the NY State Transportation Equity Alliance discussing transportation issues facing Long Island. We are currently preparing the draft visioning plan for North Amityville (along with the town) to be released to the public later this fall.


We'll See You There!

MajoraMajora Carter Lecture at Adelphi University
"The Death of Philanthropy - Why Real Change Can't Come From Charity"
The Thomas Dixon Lovely Ballroom
Wednesday, October 6 - 7:00 PM

Founder of the nonprofit Sustainable South Bronx, Majora Carter is an advocate for urban sustainability and restoration, and green collar jobs. Ms. Carter is the current president of the economic consulting firm, the Majora Carter Group.


Suffolk County Planning Federation Conference - 9/29/10, 1PM to 9:40PM, Berkner Hall, Brookhaven National Lab

The Suffolk County Planning Federation invites you to attend its annual training conference to be held this year on Wednesday, September 29th from 1PM to 9:40PM (see schedule for details) at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, NY. See the schedule below and links for details and registration information. The conference is free, but registration is required. A Suffolk County Planning Federation certificate of completion will be provided to all attendees and may serve as proof of training required, and AICP CM credits have been applied for.

 

The online registration form is available at:

http://www.co.suffolk.ny.us/upload/planning/pdfs2/scpf/2010_pdf/scpf10_regform.pdf

 

For more information about the conference, please visit:

http://www.co.suffolk.ny.us/Home/departments/planning/Suffolk%20County%20Planning%20Federation.aspx

 

Nassau County Planning Federation Conference - 11/9/10, 5PM to 9PM, Nassau Community College

The Nassau County Planning Federation will hold its seventh annual Fall Conference on Tuesday, November 9th from 5PM to 9PM at Nassau Community College, G Building Conference Center.  Six continuing educational credit-eligible workshops will be presented, all focusing on critical issues affecting Long Island: Recent Updates to SEQRA, Planning Case Law, Clean Energy, Affordable Housing, Water and Storm Water, and the Future of Transportation Planning.  A light dinner will be provided.  This event is free. AICP CM credits will be applied for. For more information, contact Lowell F. Wolf at 516-571-0431.


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