Sustainable Long Island
July 2012  
Sustainable Long Island Newsletter
The one-stop-shop...
For all Sustainable Long Island news! 
In This Issue
Redeveloping Closed Auto Dealerships
Turning Blight into Park
Wincorm Commons
News and Updates
Cleanup Action Continues
What Does the Built Environment Mean to the Well-Being of a City?
Huntington Station BOA
Brownfield Opportunity Area Updates
Brownfield Opportunity Area Updates
Donate today!
Board of Directors

Ruth Negr
ón-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 

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


Dr. Miriam K. Deitsch

Farmingdale State College, State University of New York 


Pat Edwards

Citi Community Development     
Amy Hagedorn
Hagedorn Foundation   


Jeff Kraut

North Shore - LIJ Health System


Mitchell H. Pally

Long Island Builders Institute


Ron Shiffman

Pratt Institute


Robert Wieboldt  
















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Redeveloping Closed Auto Dealerships
Grant-funded study produces unique insight

Car Dealership With support from the Citi Foundation, Sustainable Long Island conducted a study looking at the challenges and opportunities for redeveloping corridors of closed or vacant car dealerships in low-to-moderate-income communities across Long Island to set the stage for, or spur, future redevelopment.  


This useful tool, one of the first of its kind, can be utilized by potential developers looking to revitalize a specific site and area, but wanting to say within the vision of the surrounding community residents. It can also be used at similar sites, not yet identified, as a blueprint and guideline to redevelopment for closed or vacant car dealership in Nassau and Suffolk Counties.


Having identified specific sites in the Village of Hempstead, Inwood, Patchogue and Riverside, Sustainable Long Island conducted a scan of regulatory barriers to redevelopment; hired an environmental consultant to conduct site investigations and help identify preliminary environmental challenges; examined agencies needed and possible funding for redevelopment; and engaged local stakeholders to understand community priorities for possible future redevelopment of these sites.


Here is what we learned:

  • Zoning can be a challenge
    1. Local governments have a number of different ways of accommodating car dealerships - some are zoned for general business, while others are included in light industrial uses, and still others have special designations for auto sales and service.
    2. Research shows that because car sales generate significant sales tax revenue, many local governments may be reluctant to rezone car dealerships and are willing to hold out for new dealerships to re-occupy these properties.
  • Layers of government pose challenges working across boundaries
    1. Procedures vary widely, process is inconsistent/unpredictable.
    2. Agencies that regulate sites differ from county to county, state to state.
    3. Layers of local government in a home-rule state make the redevelopment process difficult to navigate. Many potential developers prefer more predictability and consistent processes.
    4. On Long Island, Nassau & Suffolk counties handle underground storage tanks differently. Whereas in Suffolk County they're regulated by the Department of Health Services, in Nassau County the Department of Health requires permits for storage of some toxic and hazardous materials, but highly flammable chemicals and fuel for internal combustion engines fall under the jurisdiction of the Fire Marshall.
  • Possible environmental issues
    1. Most car dealerships also include auto service facilities and therefore are likely to have on-site storage tanks for waste oil, petroleum, etc.
    2. Many sites required to report to EPA because of materials they handle.
    3. Based on previous/historical use for car repair & service, Phase I Environmental Site Assessments are recommended for most former dealerships prior to redevelopment.
    4. Start by checking state environmental agencies for listings of regulated facilities that report either to those agencies or to the EPA.
  • Numerous programs can help cover or offset clean-up and redevelopment costs
    1. New York State Department of State's Brownfield Opportunity Area program
    2. New York's Brownfield Cleanup Program
    3. EPA's revolving loans and grant programs
    4. In 2012 the EPA initiated the Multi-Purpose Pilot Grant Program, offering grants to eligible entities for both assessment and cleanup work at a specific brownfield site owned by the applicant
  • Many former dealership sites provide unique branding opportunities or can serve as visual markers of transitions and 'gateways' or entry-ways into communities.
    1. While posing challenges, often former car dealership sites are situated in visible locations offering redevelopers unique opportunities to showcase their properties or to take advantage of existing assets.
  • On Long Island there are a few former dealerships that are in the process or have already been transformed - 1 into market-rate apartments and condos (former Ford site - Hempstead) while another became a charter school.  

Recommendations to Jumpstart Redevelopment

  • As with many vacant commercial properties, closed auto dealerships should be viewed as opportunities to help stabilize communities and spur economic development
  • Strategies to redevelop these sites should be developed to complement or in concert with existing comprehensive or community plans and should follow a community's vision
  • Community engagement is key - the most successful reuse projects are ones that meet the needs of the local community and that are developed in consultation with community members

Community Priorities

  • Housing
  • Commercial uses
    • Medical/health service
    • Space for start-up businesses
    • Retail
    • Entertainment facilities (i.e. movies, arcade, basketball, paintball)
  • Mixed use - housing & commercial/retail
  • Recreation/open space
  • Community facilities
  • Schools
A report summary on the study, including a full overview, methodology, findings, and recommendations, can be viewed on the project page on Sustainable Long Island's website.


East Patchogue Turning Blight into Park
Newsday discusses site identified in Sustainable LI study


The long-blighted Nessenger Chevrolet building in East Patchogue was one of the numerous sites Sustainable Long Island identified for potential redevelopment in its auto-dealership study.  


Working with our project consultant, Nelson, Pope & Voorhis, we learned that the Town of Brookhaven had purchased the site and had plans for turning it into a passive park. We included the site in the study because it represented an interesting example of adaptive reuse; turning an underutilized site into something that the community needs, wants, and is in line with area plans.  


This week Newsday wrote a piece about the development and how the Town of Brookhaven has planned to turn the property into a brand-new park. 

(via Newsday) - In the late 1970s, when George Nesenger opened his Chevrolet dealership in East Patchogue, the surrounding stretch of highway was a busy commercial corridor packed with car dealerships, recalled his son, Bruce Nesenger.


By the late 1990s, though, traffic patterns had shifted, and "things were going downhill," said Bruce Nesenger, 64. He moved the business to Medford in 1998 and sold the building, which languished for the past decade until the Town of Brookhaven purchased it last year.


For the past two weeks, a construction company has been tearing down the blight of a building on Montauk Highway -- the latest step in revitalizing this section of East Patchogue along the Swan River by turning the property into a town park.


Town officials plan to use the approximately $1 Million in federal funding to turn the property into green space. They've submitted a state grant application for additional funding and hope to put in walking trails and a kayak launch.

Community advocates have enlisted county government to try to acquire an adjacent parcel on Montauk Highway, on the other side of the river from the former Nesenger property.


Town Considers Wincoram Commons
Proposed project highlights smart growth redevelopment 

The Brookhaven Town Planning Board is reviewing whether a Rochester-based company with designs on constructing a $55 million mixed-use development at the former United Artists theater in Coram qualifies for the town's Blight to Light program.


The proposed Wincoram Commons development, expected to consist of 182 residential units, would anchor the site. The project is expected to generate 319 construction jobs and 112 permanent jobs.  


The project's design has been driven by the Middle Country Road Land Use Plan, which was adopted in 2006 and calls for components including a walkable community with an internal main street, multifamily residential and retail uses, and opportunities for public gatherings. Read more here... 


Sustainable Long Island expresses its support for this transformative redevelopment. Wincoram Commons is an example of smart growth redevelopment at a site that has been vacant and blighted for the past decade. The mix of residential, retail and community uses organized around the concepts of walkability, attractive community spaces and a unique architectural and streetscape character is just what is needed to revitalize the heart of Coram. This project, and those similar, represent important opportunities to redevelop and revitalize our communities; returning them to vibrant, thriving spaces all community members can enjoy.  


Promoting Sustainability Islandwide
Sustainable Long Island news and updates

From L to R: NYS Assemblyman Robert Sweeney; Sustainable Long Island's Amy Engel; Suffolk County Legislator DuWayne Gregory; Captain Timothy Huss, DEC; NYSDEC Regional Director Peter Scully

Sustainable Long Island was in attendance as the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) announced the statewide launch of an innovative new initiative called Operation ECO-Quality.  


This ground-breaking pollution prevention and environmental community policing program focuses on improving the environmental health and quality of life of Environmental Justice communities by raising awareness of and increasing compliance with environmental laws amongst small and mid-sized regulated facilities/operations (with an emphasis on education and community engagement). The NYSDEC Region One Operation ECO-Quality effort will focus on the Wyandanch area.  



Read more here about the project here...   


Renaissance Downtowns Huntington Station, the master developer hired by the town last summer to revitalize the area, officially opened its offices on July 18th at 1266 New York Ave. The offices will be open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., as well as some night and Saturday hours. Residents are encouraged to come and speak to representatives about redevelopment plans for the New York Avenue corridor.


Sustainable Long Island commends Renaissance Downtowns for opening this local office and looks forward to continued collaboration on the Huntington Station Brownfield Opportunity Area Project (update below). Sustainable Long Island and Renaissance Downtowns have been working closely over the past few months to ensure clear communication and to prevent duplication of efforts.   


Sustainable Long Island was delighted to attend East Islip High School's unveiling of a new 3,500 Watt Photovoltaic Solar System installed in the school's courtyard. The system will be used to educate students as to how solar power is generated and helps reduce the use of fossil fuel. We are thrilled to be partnering with East Islip High School in the fall to provide internship opportunities for their students. 



Cleanup Action Continues at
Voluntary Cleanup Site
Contamination at Floral Park to be Cleaned 

Action is about to begin that will address the contamination related to Floral Park (LIRR) located at Plainfield Avenue & Terrace Avenue, Floral Park, Nassau County under New York State's Voluntary Cleanup Program. 


The cleanup activities will be performed by Long Island Rail Road (volunteer) with oversight provided by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC). The cleanup action for the site includes excavating soils from the site that contain significant levels of contamination (mercury and lead) and capping the site with clean fill. 


The goal of the cleanup action for the site is to achieve cleanup levels that protect public health and the environment for the site's proposed use (industrial). 


Soil will be excavated from areas around the substation structure. These areas are entirely within Long Island Rail Road property boundaries. The Remedial Action Work Plan describes the actions that will be taken to remove contaminated soil from this site. Approximately 700 cubic yards of contaminated soil are to be removed from the site.  


Following the excavation, end point samples will
be collected and analyzed to ensure the soil cleanup objectives have been met. These end point samples will be compared to industrial soil cleanup objectives to determine if the contamination has been fully excavated. If necessary, additional soils may be excavated to reach the soil cleanup
objectives. This action will remove the source of contamination from the site and reduce or eliminate exposure to receptors. The current on-site building will remain and continue to be utilized by the LIRR. For more information visit the NYSDEC's website


What Does the Built Environment Mean to the Well-Being of a City?
Blog post from by Emily Williams 


Michael Kimmelman of the New York Times reported on the strong ties that exist between the economic and social well-being of a city and its architecture, infrastructure and public spaces, as evinced in Bogotá, Colombia.


Designers, architects and city planners have the ever open-ended task of creating working environments that serve their populations. But if not carefully evaluated and looked after, civil infrastructure, which acts as the skeleton of a city, can become a hindrance. As is the case in the city of Bogotá, whose own infrastructure has seen its ups and downs as proper maintenance waned and promises for expanded transit routes were left unfulfilled. As a result, residents were left with pieces of a city and no sustaining leadership in which to pull it all together.


So what happened in Bogotá, the city celebrated for the transformations led by two pioneering mayors - Antanas Mockus and Enrique Peñalosa - and now finds optimism at its lowest point in 15 years?


"The worst thing for a Latin man is to find himself raising another man's child," stated Mockus, the former mayor and university professor. As Kimmelman explains, this statement describes the, "refusal by many Colombian politicians to adopt plans their predecessors conceived, instead preferring to invent their own."


The built environment, Kimmelman writes, has an incredible ability to instill and restore a city's sense of optimism and civic self-esteem. Bogota hosts a wealth of builders who hold this belief, and buildings like the El Tintal Public Library and the Jardín el Porvenir kindergarten have imbued a feeling of positive well-being in the community despite the city's recent steps backward.


Urban planner Lorenzo Castro speaks of the need for hope in Bogotá and the healing power of such buildings as the El Tintal Public Library: "People in the neighborhood live in a room with five people in a small house with three other families, but they go there and see the space, the construction, the comfort and safety. And suddenly, maybe for the first time, they feel included in society, in the city. They can dream."

Ongoing Efforts: Huntington Station BOA 

The Town of Huntington continues to advance Huntington Station's Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA) project; a New York State Department of State funded program.


During Step II of the Huntington Station BOA, the consultant team is developing planning and redevelopment programs that incorporate community input received during the process. The team is conducting environmental site assessments and economic and financial analyses, and continuing to facilitate public participation.  


This BOA project has been and will continue to be driven by residents' desires and opinions and all parties involved are committed to an openand transparent process.   


Along with Sustainable Long Island, the team is conducting small group meetings with community stakeholders. These meetings are vitally important to the BOA process to gather public input about redevelopment opportunities for the BOA designated area. These small group meetings will be followed up with a public meeting in the fall to facilitate public input.


Past meetings have been attended by representatives of:

  • The Huntington Chamber of Commerce
  • The Huntington Station Business Improvement District
  • Suffolk County Police Department Second Precinct
  • NAACP-Huntington Chapter
  • Greater Huntington Civic Group

Future meetings are in the process of being scheduled with:

  • Huntington Chamber of Commerce
  • Porter-Trejo Action Network
  • Huntington Station Latin Quarter
  • Hispanic Task Force
  • Huntington School Board
  • Visioning Group
  • Youth from Huntington Station

If you are interested in participating in the process, please contact Sustainable Long Island at    


Ongoing Efforts: Northwest Hicksville BOA

Northwest Hicksville

The Northwest Hicksville BOA Step 1 Program is currently in the Step I Pre-Nomination Study, with the first steering committee meeting being held last month.  


This exciting kickoff meeting was held by the steering committee partners, which is comprised of dozens of representatives from the Town, State, County, Community, as well as private developers and businesses - all showing a commitment to this vital project:  


Town: Water District; Fire Department & District; Town Board; Economic Development Office; Intergovernmental Affairs; Environmental Resources; Planning and Development Office


State and County: Environmental Conservation; Department of State - Division of Coastal Resources; Environmental Remediation; Transportation; Long Island Rail Road; County Police Department; County Executive  


Community: Northwest Civic Association; Duffy Park Civic Association; Jericho Gardens Civic Association; Hicksville Community Council; Hicksville School District


Private Developers and Businesses: Chamber of Commerce     

The Pre-Nomination Study provides a preliminary analysis of the area affected by potential brownfield sites. This Step I process consists of the following components:

  • Identifying and describing a manageable study area
  • Initiating community outreach and participation process
  • Completing a preliminary inventory and analysis of the study area that identifies compelling opportunities for revitalization
  • Creating a common vision that describes the area's potential for revitalization and realistic goals and objectives that will serve as a framework to guide the revitalization


Sustainable Long Island is working with the project team (Town of Oyster Bay, H2M, Nelson, Pope & Voorhis) on an ongoing, in-depth community participation plan; working with area residents and business owners on the project and providing opportunities for them to participate; helping shape the vision, goals, objectives, and ultimately the plan.


Ongoing Efforts: Southeast Hicksville BOA

The steering committee kickoff meeting for the Southeast Hicksville BOA Step 2 Program was held June 26, 2012 and through the public participation process, the Southeast Hicksville BOA consultant team continues to provide professional insights and analyses about the project area and hear input from the Southeast Hicksville community to embrace the community vision for recommended planning and redevelopment scenarios.


The steering committee partners for this project is comprised of dozens of representatives from the Town, State, County, Community, as well as private developers and businesses - all showing a commitment to this vital project:  


Town: Water District; Fire Department & District; Town Board; Economic Development Office; Intergovernmental Affairs; Public Information; Environmental Resources; Planning and Development Office


State and County: Environmental Conservation; Department of State - Division of Coastal Resources; Environmental Remediation; Transportation; Assembly; Senate; Long Island Rail Road; LIPA; County Police Department; County Executive  


Community: Hicksville Gardens Civic Association; Hicksville Community Council; Hicksville School District


Private Developers and Businesses: Chamber of Commerce


During the Step II phase, the consultant team is:

  • Working with the community to refine the goals for redevelopment of underutilized properties
  • Conducting a market study to quantify the need for housing types and commercial uses
  • Conducting analysis of site conditions to understand degree of environmental constraints
  • Developing planning and redevelopment recommendations consistent with the community goals
  • Facilitating public participation (including maintaining a website page to share information)


Sustainable Long Island is conducting small group meetings with community stakeholders. The focus of these meetings is to provide information about the BOA Program, the Southeast Hicksville BOA, and to gather community input regarding the potential redevelopment opportunities within the BOA. These meetings help us engage a wide range of community members who represent the many different perspectives found within Southeast Hicksville. 


Together we can build a more
sustainable Long Island


These challenging economic times have magnified the problems we Long Islanders face each and every day. With our leaders warning us of tougher times to come, thinking regionally and acting locally is urgent. It is in all of our best interests to stay engaged and do what we can together to build a more sustainable Long Island.


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The Board and Staff of Sustainable Long Island