Sustainable Long Island
January 2011
Sustainable Long Island Newsletter
The one-stop-shop...
For all Sustainable Long Island news!
In This Issue
Our 5th Annual Conference
Long Island's Need For Sewers
Food Access Mapping
Long Island Index 2011
Nassau County Master Plan Update
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




Robert Bernard

Capital One Bank



Peter Bogan



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



Dr. Miriam K. Deitsch

State University at Farmingdale



Pat Edwards




Richard Grafer


Amy Hagedorn
Hagedorn Foundation



David Kapell



Jeff Kraut

North Shore - LIJ Health System



George O'Neill



Mitchell H. Pally

Long Island Builders Institute



Ron Shiffman

Pratt Institute



Robert Wieboldt
















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Time flies doesn't it? We are less than a month away from our Annual Conference on March 4th and we couldn't be more excited. I hope you have had the chance to take a look at some of the planned activities in our previous newsletter invite and we look forward to seeing you there. Below is some more information on what's going on with Sustainable Long Island as we head into February!

Click here to make a secure online donation via Sustainable Long Island's brand new website!
Our 5th Annual Sustainability Conference:
"The Rally for Resources"


Our 5th Annual Sustainability Conference will be held on Friday, March 4, 2011 at the Carlyle on the Green in Bethpage, NY. "The Rally for Resources" will focus on discovering where your community can find funding opportunities for local projects and plans. You will have the chance to find out who's moving beyond the talk toward implementation and finally "getting it done."


Click here for our recent enewsletter invite to the conference.

The conference will feature keynote speaker Woody Tasch, President of Slow Money - which has been voted one of the top 10 ideas for change in America by Also set to return is the popular networking lunch featuring a taste from dozens of Long Island's premier restaurants, the Hall of Sustainable Exhibitors, a Community Bus Tour through Nassau County, and interactive workshops on a range of topics featuring brownfield redevelopment, community project implementation, food project financing, and much more!

Register today for early discount pricing
or attend just for lunch!

Last year's conference provided an opportunity for attendees to learn how the region can use the green economy to provide opportunity and access for all Long Islanders to create a healthier environment and a stable economy. Community members and activists, government officials, architects, builders, and other stakeholders were among the 400 plus attendees gathered for the daylong event, which also honored May Newburger and featured keynote speaker Senator Charles Schumer. What will be in store this year? Find out March 4th!

*We also would like to ask you to consider donating any unused airline miles you may have obtained via traveling. With these donated miles, we will be able to better accommodate our keynote speakers, panelists, and moderators travel needs. 
Long Island's Need For Sewers

Below is Sustainable Long Island's column in this month's issue of Networking Magazine discussing the impact of sewers on Long Island, specifically focusing on Suffolk County and Wyandanch:


It wasn't too long ago when, then candidate and now New York Governor-elect, Andrew Cuomo visited Long Island to discuss his NY Works Agenda, an all-inclusive business development and job creation plan for New York. Cuomo believes that the state government should provide business with the "resources" they need to thrive, but many are now wondering what exactly these "resources" are?

Here on Long Island there is one major resource that many businesses (or lack-thereof), specifically in Suffolk County, have waited patiently for and are now hoping to finally receive: sewers.

Yes, sewers are many communities pipeline to progress - helping bring development and jobs to downtowns as well as collecting, protecting, and disposing groundwater from homes and businesses. While surrounding counties utilize sewers, Long Island's need for sewers is reaching a critical status. Waste water management is vital in preparing for the future of Long Island. According to the National Environmental Services Center, Nassau and Suffolk County has considerably fewer sewers than its neighboring regions such as New York City (99% utilized) and Westchester/Rockland Counties (88% utilized). With sewers often being such a decisive element of redevelopment plans, it comes as somewhat as shock that only 59% of total Long Island households utilize them. However, town officials and community leaders are beginning to come together on initiatives to bring sewer lines to communities that need them the most.

Waste water management is a critical need in preparing for Long Island's future.  Years ago, Supervisor Steve Bellone at the Town of Babylon engaged hundreds of Wyandanch community members to re-think, rebuild, and renew Straight Path - what was apparent back then, as it is now, is that sewers are the critical element of the plan to move forward.  The high water table in Wyandanch makes it extremely difficult to effectively develop with septic systems and the small irregular-shaped parcels along with the high water table make it difficult to accommodate on-site waste water treatment systems.   Multiple town board meetings and public hearings have brought out community members in favor of sewer lines in what once as labeled "the most economically distressed community in Suffolk County."

Investing in sewers makes economic sense. In fact, a study by the 2008 US Conference of Mayors, Mayors Water Council, indicates that for every dollar of water and sewer infrastructure investment, long-term private GDP output increases by $6.35, over a 9% return on investment. Additionally, every job in sewers and water creates 3.85 jobs in the national economy. Making the $18 million investment in Wyandanch has tremendous economic benefits for the community - local businesses will be able to employ local residents, create revenue for the local economy, and boost tax revenue.

Sewers in Wyandanch, and in Suffolk County for that matter, will help in reducing further sprawl by attracting development, allowing the building of additional housing that's desired to meet the town's needs, and bring in new businesses to spur the local economy.

So what's the hold up? The resistance to sewers deals with numerous issues, one of which is the cost. Cost for implementation needs to be addressed as well as the maintenance and usage fees that come along with it. Recent discussions between community leaders and elected officials about consolidating special districts as a means to reduce taxes have brought up questions about the justification of potentially increasing costs to residents if sewers are added in their community.  We must examine the cost of adding sewers or replacing septic systems in comparison to the long-term economic benefits.



These issues must be overcome so Wyandanch, and Suffolk County as a whole, can finally bring jobs and local businesses to the area. There are signs of promise however, such as the recent $14.7 million in federal money from the state's Environmental Facilities Corp, which will be allocated to sewer lines in the community; the county's pledge to waive $10 million in sewer hook-up fees for five years to make business development more affordable; and the transfer of two land parcels worth about $1 million for the Wyandanch Rising project. Recently Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy held a second Suffolk County Sewer Summit where Government agencies, stakeholder organizations, and members of the public participated in identifying Suffolk's future sewage infrastructure needs and potential funding sources. Babylon Supervisor Steve Bellone also held a Wyandanch Rising Sewer Project Groundbreaking, where Sustainable Long Island had the chance to speak and highlight the Town of Babylon's leadership in bringing sewers to Wyandanch and mention our partnership with the town from the beginning.

As many elected officials and Long Island residents are beginning to see - the resource most businesses and Long Islanders need is becoming ever more clear. The development of wastewater infrastructure remains a must for economic development, revitalization of downtowns, affordable housing, new employment, drinking water protection, and open space preservation.

Food Access Mapping: A snapshot of supermarket availability
Click to view map

As part of our Food Equity Program, Sustainable Long Island has conducted research and examined data looking at the availability of fresh food in various retail locations (stores, farmers markets', farm stands) and explored multiple solutions for bringing fresh food into currently underserved communities.

In partnership with the Long Island Index, Sustainable Long Island's Food Access Map project makes information available about Long Island's existing food retail environment in an effort to bring attention and problem-solving ideas to the issue of food equity. This is the first time this invaluable information has been made available for the public.


The food access map project shows locations of supermarkets across Long Island as a way to paint a picture of the availability of fresh, healthy, affordable food. The map shows where supermarkets and large grocery stores exist throughout Long Island and where there are gaps in, or areas without, the availability of these types of stores. Click here for more information about the this exciting new project.

Long Island Index 2011: The Clock is STILL Ticking


Long Island Index

At this year's Long Island Index Launch, a great emphasis was put on the idea of working with community residents to redevelop their downtowns, which is a staple here at Sustainable Long Island. We're glad to see the tremendous will by Long Islanders to improve our communities and bring different perspectives together. Below are the top 10 research findings from the 2011 report:

10: No two municipalities function the same.

There is tremendous variability between Long Island's municipalities-different rules, different processes, different staffing levels. This is a result of the complex structure of incorporated and unincorporated villages, towns, cities and counties that we have on Long Island.

9: Technology? What's that?

We provide little to no technology either to manage the process or accept payments. Only three of the surveyed municipalities accepted online applications. And over 80% of Long Island jurisdictions accept only cash or check for fees-no credit cards. Only one jurisdiction accepts payments online.

8: How long will it take to move through the process? Who knows?

70% of jurisdictions surveyed do not set target dates for when planning reviews will be conducted. No one knows how long it takes to complete an approval process. Three-quarters of jurisdictions do not track review times by staff.

7: We build our downtowns for cars.

Almost 75% of the jurisdictions surveyed said that their on-site parking requirements were one of the biggest impediments to downtown development. Yet communities off Long Island that have successfully re-energized their downtowns have limited parking rather than maximized it. The goal was to encourage walkability thus increasing the likelihood of retail success and creating a greater sense of place and identity.

6: We add to the cost of construction.

Less than 50% of villages and only one town offer next-day building inspections. Once construction begins, timely inspections are essential to keep projects on schedule and reduce construction costs.

5: Up-to-date comprehensive plans are essential. Unfortunately, we don't have many of them.

On Long Island, almost 50% of villages don't have a comprehensive plan at all and 50% of the towns and cities have an outdated plan. Comprehensive plans are essential to planners and government officials seeking to define what type of development a community wants. Without them, it's nearly impossible to plan for the future of a community.

4: Up-to-date zoning codes go hand-in-hand with updated comprehensive plans. We could use more of them.

Nearly 50% of the jurisdictions surveyed have not comprehensively updated their zoning codes in at least ten years. Our communities are changing-through demographic shifts, economic tides, the emergence of new building practices. Without updated zoning codes, it is harder to plan for the impact of change on the community.

3: Long Island has the lowest rate of rentals in our region. No surprise since our codes make it hard or downright impossible to build them.

In 45% of the villages, rental units cannot be built without a special permit or cannot be built at all. In 70% of the villages, accessory housing is not allowed.

2: On Long Island, we worry that we'll build too much. But we should be worrying that we don't build enough.

We use density caps to focus on "how much is too much" but fail to recognize that without setting minimums of what we must have, we fail to achieve what we set out to create. Minimums and maximums need to be defined. Retail will not flourish in a downtown if you don't have a large enough population to utilize those services. Not determining the minimum requirement means jeopardizing the vibrancy and economic success that you are striving for.

1: With a little here and a little there, we will realize only a fraction of the potential of our downtowns.

On Long Island, we tend to do things in a piecemeal fashion. Individual projects don't relate to each other, and can't reach the critical mass of housing and jobs that Long Island needs. We need a concerted, integrated plan that considers the needs of the community from a variety of perspectives-residents' wishes, needs for future generations, creating an economically viable region. Without that, we're going to end up with a new apartment building here, a new business over there, and parking everywhere.

For more information, visit the Long Island Index website. 

Nassau County Master Plan Update

Nassau County On Thursday, October 28, 2010, the Nassau County Planning Commission voted to commence the public comment period on the DRAFT 2010 Nassau County Master Plan. Please take some time to review the draft chapters, which can be downloaded by visiting the county's website.


The Planning Commission will be hosting a second public hearing on the draft Plan on February 3, 2011, beginning at 10:00am. The hearing will take place at the Theodore Roosevelt Executive & Legislative Building (Legislative Chamber), 1550 Franklin Avenue, Mineola, N.Y.

Draft 2010 Master Plan - Chapters


         Chapter 1 - People & Housing

         Chapter 2 - The Economy: Support and Promote Investment and Job Creation

         Chapter 3 - Land Use: Sustainable Development

         Chapter 4 - Infrastructure: Retrofitting Nassau

         Chapter 5 - The Action Plan

         The Action Plan Matrix

         Appendix A - Downtown Growth Analysis

         Appendix B - Downtown Fiscal Impact Analysis

         Appendix C - Historic and Cultural Assets

Take a look at Sustainable Long Island's Master Plan comments here.

Congratulations to founding member of Sustainable Long Island: Marge Rogatz

Marge Rogatz of Port Washington was recently named a 2010 Local Hero by Bank of America for her leadership and community service. She proudly designated her $5,000 award to ERASE Racism for their service in increasing racial equity.

She is president and chief executive of Community Advocates, a Roslyn Heights-based group that helps people obtain entitlements from agencies, and directs the State of New York Mortgage Agency. She's a Long Island Community Foundation board member and a founder and former officer of Nassau-Suffolk Coalition for the Homeless and of course, founding member of Sustainable Long Island.

Want community updates on various planning projects? Exciting tidbits on events, meetings, and engagements in your neighborhood? Exclusive information and the latest feedback about everything Long Island?

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Sarah Lansdale, Executive Director

Sustainable Long Island