Sustainable Long Island
April 2011 
Sustainable Long Island Newsletter
The one-stop-shop...
For all Sustainable Long Island news! 
In This Issue
Long Island Bus Cuts
Carmans River Plan
Earth Day
Heartland Plan in Brentwood
New Avalon Plan
Where the Young Singles Live
Ruth Negrón-Gaines Honored
We'll See You There!
Board of Directors

Ruth Negr
ón-Gaines: President

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Kevin McDonald: Vice President

The Nature Conservancy   
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Charlotte Biblow, Esq: Secretary

Farrell Fritz, P.C.

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Lauren Furst: Treasurer   

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Russ Albanese

Albanese Organization Inc.

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Lennard Axinn

Island Estates

  

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Robert Bernard

Capital One Bank  

  

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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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Pat Edwards

Citibank

  

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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

  

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Mitchell H. Pally

Long Island Builders Institute

 

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Ron Shiffman

Pratt Institute

  

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Robert Wieboldt

  

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Breaking News via Newsday: $8.6M from state could save LI Bus 

 

LI Bus  

Long Island Bus may have been saved until at least the end of the year.

State officials, in a surprise announcement on Friday April 1, said the State Senate has come up with $8.6 million to prevent painful proposed cuts.

 

Those cuts, starting in July, would eliminate service for 16,000 of the Nassau bus system's 100,000 average weekday riders, officials said.

In addition, about 200 users of the Able-Ride paratransit service -- whose riders already were hit hard last year by cutbacks -- would lose service without a financial rescue.

 

It was not immediately clear how the $8.6 million in state funds was secured, or whether lawmakers on the Assembly had to act separately on the deal.

 

Under the deal announced jointly by the Senate, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Nassau Executive Edward Mangano, the MTA will continue to operate LI Bus at full service levels through December.

 

On Jan. 1, the agency will hand over the keys to a private bus operator that Nassau County has said it will select, officials said.

 

Without Friday's agreement, state Sen. Charles Fuschillo said, "A number of communities in Nassau County would have lost bus service entirely, leaving riders who live and work in those communities with no alternative way to get to their homes or jobs." Fuschillo (R-Merrick) is chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee.

 

The MTA had planned to eliminate more than half of LI Bus' 48 lines, blaming inadequate funding from the county -- a matter of dispute for years. While Nassau owns the bus system, it contributed only $9.1 million last year to LI Bus' $140-million operating budget.

 

The MTA has said it cannot continue to operate LI Bus unless the county pays about $25 million more per year. Under the proposed cutbacks, 25 routes were slated for elimination, and service would have been reduced on two others. Mangano, meanwhile, has been pursuing plans to privatize the system.

 

Nearly 100 bus riders gave impassioned testimony at a MTA hearing on March 24, describing in heartbreaking detail how the service cuts would prevent them from getting to work, school and doctors' appointments.

Long Island Bus riders, employees and transit advocates have protested Mangano's plans to privatize the system, saying that will result in service cuts and higher fares.

 

In a statement Friday, Mangano said he will work with the MTA to ensure a smooth transition to a private operator in January.

 

"This public-private partnership will enable us to provide comparable bus routes at a much more affordable rate to Nassau County taxpayers," he said.

 

Read below for highlights of our latest testimony  

before Friday's announcement. 

 

We need every single bus line on Long Island
LI Bus cuts
This photo shows the LI Bus routes that will remain after service reductions. The following routes will be affected: N1, N2, N8, N14, N19, N31, N33, N36, N45, N46, N47, N50, N51, N54, N55, N57, N58, N62, N73, N74, N78, N79, N80, N81, N88.

It is not news that thousands of Nassau residents use bus transportation for work, school, and their daily routines. At the MTA public hearing about LI Bus service cuts on March 23, hundreds of Nassau residents let it be known that cutting over 50 percent of the bus lines would be detrimental to so many including our low-wage workforce, seniors, physically disabled, and young adults that do not have access to cars. We anticipate that as gas prices continue to swell, bus ridership will begin to increase as well. In fact, Long Island bus ridership improved 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%.

 

Cutting the bus service as anticipated would mean loss of jobs, lack of access to education, and everything in-between. Nassau County residents use LI Bus to transport children to and from schools and childcare facilities; to go to work; to look for work; to attend community colleges; to attend local universities; to grocery shop; and to run daily errands. Even enjoying modest forms of recreation depends upon a viable public transportation system. Cutting the bus system would make it extremely difficult for these residents to continue their normal daily routines and put their families' well being in jeopardy. It is important to note that many low-wage workers are from lower-income communities and are historically marginalized populations and people of color. 

Also, the Long Island Bus cuts would 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.

Simply put, we need every single bus line on Long Island. 

Carmans River Plan: A Historic Effort

 

Carmans 

The Carmans River plan was the subject of public hearing this past Tuesday (3/29) where community members came out to comment on the proposal for the first time. Supervisor Mark Lesko called it "a revolutionary way of looking at land use." Sustainable Long Island was in attendance and provided our support - highlighted below:

 

Sustainable Long Island would like to applaud the leadership shown by the developers, stakeholders, and municipalities in spearheading this effort to protect an invaluable resource on Long Island. This plan is about much more than saving one of the largest rivers on Long Island... it's about enhancing and restoring a community and region.

 

This plan supports land use that meets the need of the community and the Town, while promoting environmental health. It will improve water quality within the area, provide open space in and around the river's watershed, and preserve natural species and biodiversity that fill this natural resource. The Carmans River plan has the opportunity to be an outline for future growth across our region.

 

This process will focus development and encourage walkable development near supermarkets, parks, libraries, railroad stations and other community areas; also providing incentives to builders to locate site projects near existing sewage facilities.

 

We hope that the collaborative support of everyone involved with this important initiative, one on par with the Pine Barrens, will serve as a model for future redevelopment and natural resource conservation.

 

We look forward to seeing this sustainable progress continue to move forward.

 

To read Newsday's Patrick Whittle's continuing coverage on the plan and recap of the hearing click here.

Reduce your carbon footprint

 

With Earth Day quickly approaching on April 22, many of us have shown a strong interest and support of environmental issues world-wide. Sustainable Long Island has recently teamed up with Patch.com to bring you an environmentally healthy related column each week leading up to Earth Day. Below is our first piece on reducing your carbon footprint:  

 

Carbon footprint 

 

By now you've probably noticed that the idea of "Going Green" is not just a fad. It seems today, that this movement is everywhere - from community groups advocating for it to newspapers and TV outlets reporting on it, everyone is beginning to take action. Maybe you have decided that you too want to "Go Green" and have made the decision to live more sustainably, but now you're wondering what your next steps are.

 

Well, there are hundreds of things you can do to save energy, save water, save money, and save the environment. You've probably heard many of these ideas before: plant more trees, buy a hybrid car, invest in solar panels; the list goes on and on. These are some big initiatives that would surely make an impact, but what can the average Long Islander do on a daily basis to reduce their carbon footprint?

 

Well here are just a few suggestions:

 

1.    Eating local = Greening local

a.    By dining on locally grown food you can distinctly reduce your carbon footprint. Locally grown produce often has much lower food miles - the distance food travels to the store or stand you bought it from - compared to food from big restaurant chains and food franchises. By eating local you're supporting a process that reduces automobile travel, cutting out added pollution and fuel use, while also helping boost your local economy.

2.    Fondness of your food

a.    Where and how you buy your food isn't the only part of the solution; how you handle that food also plays a big role in lessening your carbon footprint. For starters, try to buy your food in bulk - this will help cut down the trips you make to purchase it. Don't wash food under running tap water for too long and package all leftovers in reusable containers.  Furthermore, try using the microwave more often than stoves and ovens as it is much more energy efficient. If you must use the oven, use the top shelf, or level, as it is always the hottest and cooks food quicker.

3.    We built this city on rock and roll?

a.    Simply put, we've built Long Island for cars. With roadway's packed Long Islanders are looking for alternative ways to get to work, school, and complete daily errands. Transit-oriented developments are a big way communities can decrease their carbon footprint and their dependence on automobiles; by building residential apartment units within walking distance of Long Island Rail Road stations. In the meantime, we can do our best to help by taking public transportation as much as possible, walking or riding bikes around town, and carpooling with friends and family to cut down on pollution.

4.    Save our open spaces

a.    The next time you pass an empty lot or abandoned building on Long Island, consider the businesses and housing that could fill that space. Imagine the revenue and jobs that a new community business would create and the tax dollars that would flow into our schools and towns. Cleaning up brownfields is critical in shrinking our carbon footprint as failure to do so poses a present threat to the quality of our water supply, air, and surrounding soil. Remember, that for every acre of brownfields that we redevelop today, we save three acres of open space tomorrow.

5.    Here come the water works

a.    We're not talking about taking shorter showers or fixing the leaky kitchen faucet (although those are big problems of their own). Instead we bring up Long Island's drinking water - almost all of which is from our groundwater. Our drinking water is frequently at great risk for contamination as Long Island home and business owners dump various toxins into storm sewers and down their drains which can find their way into Long Island aquifers - our solitary provider of drinking water. The development of wastewater infrastructure and water recycling systems remains a must not just for drinking water protection, but for economic development, revitalization of downtowns, affordable housing, new employment, open space preservation, and to help diminish our carbon footprint.

Newsday Reports: Heartland plan gaining in Brentwood

A proposal is moving forward that would transform a wide expanse of fields and oak trees in Brentwood, once the grounds of the state's largest psychiatric hospital, into the site of a $4-billion project that would be among the largest in Long Island history.   

 

Heartland 

 

If developer Gerald Wolkoff can pull it off, the 451-acre Heartland Town Square project he first proposed in 2002 will become a mini-city -- with 8,999 apartments and three office towers, including one 20 stories tall, plus stores, restaurants and landscaped walkways. Approvals from Islip Town and Suffolk County could come as soon as this summer. If they do, Wolkoff will have succeeded in overcoming a difficult financial and political climate for projects as big as Heartland.

 

Unlike other major developments on Long Island -- from the Lighthouse Project in Hempstead to Riverhead Resorts in Calverton -- that have floundered amid political squabbles, community backlash or financing woes, Wolkoff's vision has gained strong support in a community willing to accept density and traffic. The anticipated payoff: tax dollars and thousands of jobs.

 

And in an unusual arrangement, Wolkoff has agreed to build in three phases, giving Islip Town the power to pull the plug if the project causes more traffic than projected or fails to leave enough public space. Phase One alone calls for more than 3,500 apartments, half of the retail and about 20 percent of the office space.

"The stars are aligning for the Heartland project," said Kevin Law, president of the Long Island Association, the region's leading business organization.

 

To be sure, significant hurdles lie ahead. Wolkoff needs to secure financing, for example. And other concerns linger, primarily about Heartland's density: When finished, it would have 40 percent more people per square mile than Queens.

 

Even the project's supporters worry about congestion on Brentwood's busy roads and the impact on its struggling school district. Town and school officials predict the total Heartland project -- completion would take 15 to 20 years -- would add more than 2,200 schoolchildren to a district with 11 of its 17 school buildings already near capacity. In addition, the newest version of the plan includes an entrance and exit onto heavily traveled Commack Road in Huntington Town.

 

The phase-in plan was designed to give the town the right to block further construction if traffic projections and other goals aren't met. Wolkoff must set aside a certain amount of public space and maintain a balance of residential, retail and office space as he builds. And the developer has increased his financial commitment for traffic-easing road improvements from $25 million to nearly $50 million.

 

"To give him carte blanche -- we couldn't do that," Islip Town Supervisor Phil Nolan said. "It's a way for us to reasonably test Wolkoff's theories and Wolkoff's whole dream."

 

Heartland would transform the former grounds of Pilgrim State Hospital, which reached a peak of nearly 14,000 patients in 1954.

 

Read the full article by Newsday's Jennifer Maloney.

Patch.com Reports: Hearing Set for New Avalon Plan

 

AvalonBay 

The revived Avalon Bay plan to build a large number of homes in Huntington Station will come back for a hearing May 16 on a bid for rezoning.

 

Avalon Bay last month submitted a new plan to have the 26-acre site on East Fifth Street rezoned from its current R-7 residence district classification, which would allow construction of 109 single-family homes, to R-3M garden apartment district,. That latter designation would permit the construction of the 379-unit, combination of rental and owner-occupied housing project.

 

Three members of the Town Board--Council members Glenda Jackson and Mark Cuthbertson, plus Town Supervisor Frank Petrone--invited Avalon to resubmit the proposal.

 

A larger plan was turned down by the board in September after considerable community opposition to a plan that also included a transit oriented district that many felt would mean too much high-density zoning to the area.

 

At a recent Town Board meeting, a handful of speakers reiterated their opposition, citing crime, school overcrowding, the need to protect acquifers and traffic before the Town Board voted to set the public hearing.

 

Councilwoman Susan Berland said Tuesday that she voted for the hearing because she had supported public hearings on other contentious issues and thought the matter needed to be discussed.

Response to NY Times Article by Aileen Jacobson

"Where the Young Singles Live"

NY Times
Click to View Original Article

It's no revelation that finding affordable housing on Long Island remains a challenge, especially for young adults. As stated in ("Where the Young Singles Live" by Aileen Jacobson - 3.20.2011), the 2011 Long Island Index report confirmed what many of us had recognized for years: there is a mass exodus occurring of young adults leaving Long Island for the city and other locations further west.

 

The preeminent way to keep our 20-and-30-somethings on the Island is to invigorate the region's downtown business districts by constructing residential apartment units within walking distance of Long Island Rail Road stations. Places such as Mineola and Patchogue have embraced these transit-oriented developments which have provided the opportunity for residents to walk to-and-from businesses, schools, and local transportation hubs within their community.

 

There are thousands of acres across Long Island that sit idle waiting to be redeveloped into a vibrant downtown. All that's needed to turn these areas in to the place "where the young singles live" is determination by the community, support by local government, and the necessary infrastructure to support it.

Sustainable Long Island Board President
Ruth Negr
ón-Gaines Honored 

Ruth 

The Islip Town Board recently honored women who have achieved personal and public success at the annual Women's History Celebration at Town Hall.

 

The ceremony was highlighted when the town board recognized Ruth Negrón-Gaines for demonstrating impressive community service in multiple capacities.

 

"Ruth has been a real inspiration to me professionally," said Sarah Lansdale, Executive Director, Sustainable Long Island. "Under her guidance, Sustainable Long Island has flourished. Sustainable Long Island joins with the Town of Islip in congratulating Ruth for her ongoing leadership and dedication to promoting sustainability."  

 

All honorees received proclamations for their work, including involvement in local civic groups, organizing food pantries and outreach services, volunteering in local fire departments, and serving as exemplary teachers and leaders in the Town of Islip.


We'll See You There!

Brownfields

 

Sustainable Long Island staff will be attending The National Brownfields Conference 2011: "Creating More Sustainable Communities" from April 3rd through April 5th in Philadelphia.The largest, most comprehensive brownfields conference in the nation focuses on environmental revitalization and economic redevelopment with over 100 educational sessions including lively panel sessions, dynamic discussion-based roundtables, energizing public debates, and inspirational screenings.

 

 

APA

 

Sustainable Long Island staff will be attending The National Planning Conference, April 9th through 12th in Boston. The conference includes more than 180 sessions to that educate attendees with everything from day-to-day planning activities to envisioning and implementing the bigger picture. We look forward to learning about many opportunities that can enhance our skills and inform our planning efforts here on LI.

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Sincerely,

Sarah Lansdale, Executive Director

Sustainable Long Island