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
Bethpage is in Business!
Farmers' Market Season Heating Up
Agri-Park to Broaden LI Farmers' Reach
Fortune 52 Networking Event
Blueprint for a Greener Long Island
Long Island's Last Stand
EPA Environmental Justice Milestone
Donate today!
Board of Directors

Ruth Negr
n-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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Dr. Calvin O. Butts, III
SUNY College at Old Westbury    

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Dr. Miriam K. Deitsch

Farmingdale State College, State University of New York 

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Pat Edwards

Citi Community Development     
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Amy Hagedorn
Hagedorn Foundation   

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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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Empty Car Lots Hard to Revamp
Long Island Business News highlights Sustainable LI study 

 

Sustainable Long Island is featured in the Long Island Business News (LIBN) on our study which found strict zoning, overlapping governments and environmental challenges as the biggest obstacles to transform closed car dealerships. Read the full article below:  

Kathy Eiseman and Amy Engel

(via LIBN) - After years of consolidation in the automobile business, Long Island's commercial landscape has been littered with vacant dealerships, and many communities have struggled to reinvent the properties.

 

Farmingdale-based Sustainable Long Island conducted a study of such sites in four low- to moderate-income areas - the Village of Hempstead, Inwood, East Patchogue and Riverside - each with abandoned auto lots embodying rotting showrooms and long stretches of cracked asphalt.

 

Among its findings: Strict zoning, overlapping layers of government and environmental challenges are the biggest obstacles to transform closed car dealerships.

 

Though many dealerships are zoned for general business, some are specifically limited for an auto sales and service use. That's because car dealers generate more tax revenue than other types of retail, and local governments "may be reluctant to rezone" the properties, the study said.

 

Kathy Eiseman, a partner at Nelson Pope & Voorhis in Melville and a consultant on the study that was funded with a $45,000 grant from the Citi Foundation, said any reuse of the car lots has to consider the peculiarities of each site.

 

"Each is a unique location and each gives a unique opportunity," she said.

 

In the four areas, 10 abandoned dealerships were examined. According to the study, these sites are often "very visible, on major corridors and in entryways to communities," and when left vacant, they detract from the neighborhood, adding to blight. Fast-tracking blight. Fast-tracking their redevelopment would help stabilize these lower-income communities and spur economic development.

 

The process has already begun in some places. The former Inwood home of Five Towns Kia became a kitchen and bath store. One former dealership, Millennium Honda in the Village of Hempstead, ended up as a charter school; another, the former home of Hempstead Ford, is being turned into 166 rental apartments by Mill Creek Residential.

 

Rental housing is also the plan for the old Ramp Chevrolet/Hummer dealership in Port Jefferson Station. The 8-acre site on Route 112 has attracted graffiti, garbage and vagrants since Ramp pulled out in 2009. Hauppauge-based Northwind Group has proposed building 96 workforce rental apartments on the property. The project, called Jefferson Meadows, was the first to be advanced through the Town of Brookhaven's Blight-to-Light program, which fast-tracks rezoning for transformative redevelopment.

 

Brookhaven paid about $1 million for the former Nessenger Chevrolet dealership in East Patchogue last November and is using another $1 million in federal funds to turn the 3.4-acre property into a park. The town also bought the former Cassel GMC dealership in 2010 and is using it as a mechanics shop to repair town vehicles.

 

Though the town can't buy them all, as Brookhaven Supervisor Mark Lesko readily acknowledged, its program can grease the wheels when it comes to rezoning abandoned sites.

 

"I think our Blight-to-Light strategy is a very effective approach in terms of streamlining the process, providing certainty when it relates to the zoning and communicating to developers exactly what we want to see, especially when replacing abandoned car dealerships," Lesko said. "It knocks out a bunch of hurdles to redeveloping these sites."

 

Amy Engel, executive director of Sustainable Long Island, said some of these former dealership sites have languished on the market because of environmental hurdles, since most car dealerships are likely to contain storage tanks for waste oil and petroleum, and developers may be scared off by the huge cleanup costs.

 

But the good news there, she said, are the more than half a dozen government-sponsored programs designed to assist in the remediation of tainted properties in preparation for redevelopment, including the state's Brownfield Cleanup Program and the federal Environmental Protection Agency's new Multi-Purpose Pilot Grant program.

 

The study recommends that redevelopment of car dealerships should complement existing or previous plans, follow local visions for an area and ultimately meet community needs. Eiseman said the most suggested reuses from residents surveyed included housing, retail, medical/health services, space for startup businesses and entertainment facilities.

 

What's certain is what most of the shuttered car lots won't become: another car dealership. Though U.S. sales have risen 15 percent in the first half of the year, the number of car dealerships continues to decline. There are 17,540 auto dealerships nationwide, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association. That's 15.5 percent fewer than the 20,770 dealerships in 2008. The 63-year trend of declining dealerships isn't expected to reverse course anytime soon. Except for small blips in 1951, 1965 and 1987, the number of car dealerships in the United States has declined every year since its 49,200 peak in 1949, the NADA reports.

 

And while redevelopment of closed auto dealerships may currently be hampered by a slow economic recovery, especially in low- to moderate-income areas, Engel said now is the best time to lay the groundwork for when the investment climate improves.

 

"We really feel there's tremendous potential," she said. "We're excited and happy to try to move the ball forward."

 

Bethpage is in Business!
Downtown Bethpage Retail Market and Revitalization Analysis

Bethpage is undergoing an exciting downtown revitalization project. The key goal of this Nassau County project is to provide the community of Bethpage with the tools to attract and maintain economically viable businesses in the downtown. The project core is the input to be received from key stakeholders in the community as well as from commuters that utilize the Bethpage station and local officials.

The market study will identify the strengths of the community to build upon and in doing so, a niche that can be developed and implemented. As parking is a dominant feature of the landscape, and yet complaints of limited parking are common, a parking study is included to understand how the parking is used in the study area, where underutilized parking may be improved and how parking may be better managed to support economic growth in the downtown.


The product of these efforts will be recommendations for the community to pursue in improving connections and parking availability for customers, improved pedestrian safety, and a plan for realizing the goal of creating a successful and vital downtown area.

 

The steering committee undertaking the project consists of Nassau County; Nelson, Pope & Voorhis; Nelson & Pope, Engineers & Land Surveyors; and Sustainable Long Island. Stay tuned for additional details on the project, including the downtown Bethpage revitalization website coming soon!

 

Farmers' Market Season Heating Up
New Cassel Grand Re-opening set for August 4th 

 

 

Sustainable Long Island is proud to continue assisting the numerous farmers' markets operating under our project model launched in 2010, including those in Roosevelt, Bellport, Flanders, New Cassel, and Wyandanch. The model emphasizes the sale of locally grown food, youth-staff, and community leadership with market managers hired from the communities in which they are located. Long Islanders continue to show their demand and need for affordable access to fresh, local fruit and vegetables by supporting these markets. 

 

We're excited to announce that The New Cassel Farmers' Market will be hosting its grand re-opening on Saturday, August 4th at 12pm at 212 Garden Street (Parking lot of First Baptist Cathedral) in Westbury. In addition to healthy, affordable produce there will be new vendors, a kid's corner of face painting, balloon animals, crafts, etc., and a live cooking demo and food tasting by Chef Roberto Herrera of La Casa Latina Restaurant.

 

Riverhead Agri-Park to Broaden
LI Farmers' Reach
Regional Council funds project to expand farming, wineries and fisheries industry

Amy Engel and Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy at the announcement in Riverhead

(via Long Island Press) - East End-grown produce, wines and seafood will be opened up to new markets beyond Long Island thanks to a new "agri-park" processing plant established in Riverhead.

 

The facility is a public-private partnership between local farmers, wineries, commercial fishing companies and J. Kings Inc., a food shipping company. It came to fruition after a $500,000 seed grant from New York State's regional economic development initiative.

 

This project will help local family farmers expand their operations while providing neighboring businesses with locally grown produce. J. Kings will develop a food manufacturing operation in the 100,000-square-foot building while sub-dividing a more than 30,000-square-foot section for the Long Island Farm Bureau.

 

The facility will provide cooling and storage of regional vegetables, fruit and wine. As a result, such products will have a longer shelf life, allowing for shipment to more markets. Many small farms and wineries lack specialized processing, packaging and cold storage facilities, officials said. It is also expected to save local farmers some overhead costs.

   

Fortune 52 Networking Event
Amy Engel among "extraordinary women" honorees  
From L to R: Board President Ruth Negron-Gaines, Amy Engel, and Community Planner Janice Moynihan at the Fortune 52 event

Hundreds of Long Island business and non-profit leaders, professionals and entrepreneurs came together at Tanger Outlets at The Arches in Deer Park last week to celebrate the accomplishments of the newest Fortune 52 honorees.

 

The networking event was held to honor and acknowledge local women who have made a significant and unique contribution to their community or workplace.  

 

Amy Engel was honored for her role as Executive Director of Sustainable Long Island; highlighted at the event as the premier planning organization on Long Island. Read the original Fortune 52 article about Amy Engel and Sustainable Long Island on our blog.

 

Blueprint for a Greener Long Island
New York League of Conservation Voters releases manual 

 

The New York League of Conservation Voters(NYLCV) - one of the state's largest environmental organizations - recently unveiled its 2012-2013 Blueprint for a Greener Long Island. Encompassing dozens of specific policy recommendations, the Blueprint offers step-by-step guidance to help elected officials and policy makers transition to a more sustainable, innovation-based economy.  

 

 

 

"A healthy environment and strong economy are the keys to Long Island's future," said NYLCV President Marcia Bystryn. "By implementing the recommendations in our Blueprint for a Greener Long Island, local officials can take steps now to help guide Nassau and Suffolk Counties toward a more sustainable future and help improve the local economy for the long haul."

 

Developed by NYLCV's Long Island Chapter, the Blueprint for a Greener Long Island sets the bar for progress in five broad areas: sustainable economic development, climate adaptation, natural-resource protection, cleaner energy and water quality. The recommendations in these areas will yield significant environmental benefits while also controlling costs.

 

Find out more about the NYLCV and to download the Blueprint for a Greener Long Island, click here

 

Long Island's Last Stand
The Nature Conservancy of LI releases annual report 

 

The Nature Conservancy of Long Island has released its annual "Long Island's Last Stand" report detailing conservation efforts and for the first time focusing on protecting groundwater and saltwater harbors, bays and marine areas.

 

Long Island's Last Stand is a coalition of over 100 concerned environmental, civic and business associations that supports a ten-year action plan to save the most significant remaining open spaces and farmland and to restore and protect our harbors, bays and public parklands.

Without significant increases in the rates of land and water preservation, in ten years currently unprotected open spaces, and watersheds will be completely developed or too fragmented to significantly contribute to environmental goals. The continued loss of farmland may end our sustainable agricultural economy.
 

 

In a recent Newsday article about the report, Sustainable Long Island Vice President of the Board Kevin McDonald said "residents have to be made aware of the problem and that the cause of the problem is manageable."

 

McDonald, conservation finance and policy director for The Nature Conservancy on Long Island, also added "there is a clear vision for success for a healthy environment on Long Island. Enhancement and protection of Long Island's harbors and bays, and drinking water quality must become a top priority from a two pronged approach: new funding sources for land conservation need to be established as well as a new groundwater purity standard for Long Island's sole source aquifer."   

 

To read more on the Last Stand report click here

 

EPA: Environmental Justice (EJ) Milestone
EPA's office commemorates 20th Anniversary of EJ work
     
EPA 20th Anniversary Environmental Justice Video Series: Susana Almanza
EPA 20th Anniversary Environmental Justice Video Series: Susana Almanza

EPA's Office of Environmental Justice has officially launched a 20th Anniversary Video Series. These videos feature federal and local government officials, non-profit leaders and students who tell stories about the lessons that they have learned over their time working on environmental justice. 

 

Environmental justice has always been a significant underlying component of Sustainable Long Island's efforts, with our projects and programs designed to promote social equity for all Long Islanders

 

As communities across Long Island are making great strides in implementing their community plans, now is the ideal time to reiterate the importance of environmental justice, and to reinforce the positive impact local community organizations can have on their communities in the future by advocating environmentally just planning, development, and policies.

EPA 20th Anniversary Environmental Justice Video Series: Sue Briggum
EPA 20th Anniversary Environmental Justice Video Series: Sue Briggum

We want to hear you stories, experiences, thoughts and ideas about environmental justice awareness, issues, and projects moving forward. Email us your response at info@sustainableli.org and you may be featured in an upcoming newsletter!

 

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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.

 

Please consider making a tax-deductible gift to Sustainable Long Island that will help support our ongoing, and future work within your Long Island communities; while helping advance economic development, environmental health, and social equity!

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Sincerely,

The Board and Staff of Sustainable Long Island