Sustainable Long Island
October 2012  
Sustainable Long Island Newsletter
The one-stop-shop...
For all Sustainable Long Island news! 
In This Issue
Strategies for Long Island's Future
Waterfront Brownfield Revitalization Act
New Director of Programs
Volunteer at Local Farmers' Markets
Sustainable Backyards
American Clean Energy Agenda
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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Strategies for Long Island's Future 

Sustainable Long Island's latest Networking Magazine column

       

As sure as the sun rises over the scenic East End of Long Island and sets just past the New York City skyline, leaders from across the region work together on a daily basis to develop strategies for Long Island's Future. They focus on business plans, government projects, local nonprofits' goals, and communities' visions. These leaders, and all Long Islanders, now must turn their focus toward answering a simple question: what's next?  

 

We need strategies to pull this leadership together, generate support for key ideas from the bottom-up, and collaborate on a host of projects, programs, and plans. It's time to come out of our silos of independent focus and combine talent, time, energy, and resources in order to collectively address the important challenges we as a region face moving forward. We must ask: what strategies for the future of Long Island will make sense from a sustainability perspective? Here is just a handful of what should be at the top of that list when planning for our future:

 

Water

Given the fact Long Island sits atop a sole source aquifer for its water supply, making a commitment toward not taking that supply and its quality for granted is a must. You can start small: taking shorter showers, fixing the leaky kitchen faucet, not throwing your unused medicine, paint, automotive oil, and grease down the drain; and even cleaning the driveway with a broom, not a hose. On a larger scale, it is our duty to participate in forums to learn more about conservation practices; encourage local leaders to invest in rain gardens and bio swales; and advocate for the development, research, and funding for sewers in our downtowns.

 

Open Space

Compared to decades past, Long Island suddenly has a finite supply of open space and more must be done to protect the remaining 25,000 acres we are currently graced with. The threat of over-development is a serious challenge to our future quality of life. Inefficiently-planned development leads to higher taxes, increases traffic congestion, and negatively impacts natural space and working farms. The relationship between clean land, water, and air is interwoven and hinges on careful, smart planning. We must urge our leaders to pursue additional conservation initiatives and keep our open space clean, clear, and unspoiled.

 

Brownfields

At the same time, many engaged Long Islanders realize our region is home to nearly 7,000 brownfields; bringing possible contamination to our neighborhoods and blight to our main streets. A recent study by Sustainable Long Island found dozens of these brownfield sites present in corridors of closed or vacant auto dealerships throughout various low-to-moderate income (LMI) communities. Obstacles such as underground storage tanks and left-behind automotive chemicals often pose cleanup concerns, but once redeveloped these properties can restore vibrancy to communities, jump-start revitalization, and serve as an economic generator for the surrounding areas. It is crucial that Long Island leaders address the regulatory, legal and financial barriers that are impediments to this kind of redevelopment and stay dedicated to making change like this a reality.

 

Food Equity

If grades were given out, Long Island as a region wouldn't be on the honor roll when it comes to food equity Island-wide. A lack of access to grocery stores, those left hungry each day, and the decline in the number of farms and fishing on Long Island are significant. The good news is that countless leaders in the food industry have been convening over the last few years on Sustainable Long Island's Food Equity Advisory Committee to formulate plans and create projects that will improve agriculture, increase accessibility and reduce food insecurity on Long Island. On a smaller scale, you can help by shopping locally, buying locally grown produce, stopping at your local farmer's market and east end farms, and looking for the Long Island HomeGrown banner in available grocery stores.

 

Transportation

Anyone who has sat in traffic on the Long Island Expressway knows that more must be done to reduce congestion and reliance on single vehicle trips. Our public transportation system is not conducive for intra-island trips via bus or rail. Certainly the Long Island Rail Road and the bus system's in Nassau and Suffolk are excellent ways to commute in a sustainable manner, but we must fresh, innovative projects are need. Utilizing programs, such as the one from 511NY Rideshare that guarantees a free ride home up to four times a year for anyone who commutes but is suddenly left stranded, will allow ridesharing to become more of a reality. Initiatives, such as Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone's "Connect Long Island" will promote north-south rapid-transit bus routes and link several transit-oriented development projects and downtowns together.

 

Energy and Electricity

Don't forget to flip the switch. Renewable energy, energy efficiency, and offshore wind development cannot be overlooked and must be seriously considered. According to a new study by Renewable Energy Long Island, by the end of this decade, we could meet 100% of residential electricity needs from clean, renewable power sources. Large amounts of wind, solar and other renewable energy sources need to be manufactured to substitute old, ineffective fossil-fueled power sources. Moving in this direction would lower carbon emissions and pollution, as well as foster local economic development.

 

These strategies are a worthy starting point for a region reliant on its natural resources. What's next? Building partnerships, linking resources, and working from the bottom-up. We must all come together - residents, business owners, government officials, community members - and break down the barriers that deter us from moving toward a sustainable future as one.

 

 

Senator Gillibrand Announces Federal Brownfield Redevelopment Legislation  

Waterfront Brownfields Revitalization Act to award grants to local municipalities and organizations
Photo Credit: Newsday  
Glen Cove Mayor Ralph Suozzi and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand at Monday's press conference.

Earlier this week, Sustainable Long Island was on hand at the Glen Cove Ferry Terminal and Boat Basin, as U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Glen Cove Mayor Ralph Suozzi, and a host of local officials announced legislation to revitalize inactive industrial sites through the Waterfront Brownfields Revitalization Act. 

 

The Waterfront Brownfields Revitalization Act would award grants to local government and nonprofits that redevelop abandoned, idled or underused industrial properties on waterfronts. Brownfields frequently include inactive facilities where expansion is often complicated by environmental contamination. The grants authorized in the legislation would spur economic development and protect the environment by cleaning up and developing dormant industrial facilities and converting them into new hubs of economic activity.

 

If approved by Congress and signed by the president, this legislation would designate $220 million of existing federal brownfields funds each fiscal year from 2013 to 2017 to provide grants to local government and nonprofits to redevelop abandoned or underused industrial properties along the shoreline. Additionally, the legislation would establish a task force to examine existing and potential funding, methods to coordinate waterfront brownfields revitalization, and identify barriers to solutions and technical assistance.

 

Read below to see excerpts from Sustainable Long Island's comments on the story, press conference, and legislation:

 

Brownfield contamination on Long Island has been a problem for a number of years with blighted, abandoned, and polluted properties filling our Towns, Villages, and communities. These sites often present a threat to our quality of water, air, and surrounding soil. If left untreated, brownfields can blight an entire neighborhood; bringing its economy and the community down.

 

Luckily there are many leaders like Senator Gillibrand and Mayor Suozzi, as well as organizations like Sustainable Long Island, working to advance the cleanup of these sites; realizing they are the key to future economic growth on Long Island.

 

Over the past 14 years, Sustainable Long Island studies show there are thousands of potential brownfields across the region that, if redeveloped, would generate 60,000 full-time jobs, $6.8 billion in business revenue, and $340 million in tax revenue.

 

Inactive waterfront sites specifically are prime catalysts for redevelopment as they offer multiple economic, environmental, and community benefits.

 

By providing grants to communities in need of brownfield renewal, the Waterfront Brownfield Revitalization Act will:

  • Provide hundreds of new jobs and the attraction of dozens of new business with each potential project
  • Deliver a boost to the local economy through renewed tourism, reduced infrastructure costs, and the added value to surrounding commercial and residential properties
  • Offer private returns through developers and prospective buyers of waterfront properties/areas

 The Waterfront Brownfield Revitalization Act will also:

  • Protect the health and safety of the natural environment
  • Safeguard and restore the surrounding habitat, including land conservation, water quality, and the connection between nearby residents and the environment
  • Increase visitors to the future restored greenfields, open spaces, or development projects
  • Encourage recreation and connectivity through available activities, such as walking, hiking, biking, or just relaxing and enjoying the scenery
  • Improve quality of life with scenic beauty, neighborhood appeal, and community pride

 

Sustainable Long Island Selects New Director of Programs  

Sustainable Long Island is proud to announce it has selected Fernando Tirado as its new Director of Programs; responsible for managing the organization's programs including but not limited to: brownfield redevelopment, food equity, environmental justice, community revitalization, and the high school fellowship.

 

Fernando is an energetic, team-oriented individual. As Director of Programs, he will manage an experienced, self-directed program staff and help shape the direction and focus of Sustainable Long Island's policy and program agenda.

  

Fernando previously worked as a District Manager on the Bronx Community Board 7 in Bronx, NY, collaborating with various organizations to address specific needs of the district on issues such as economic development, quality of life, and neighborhood revitalization. He managed the office's personnel, consultants, contracts, volunteers, budget, and day-to-day operations, while working with city, state, and federal elected officials and agencies to resolve local issues and advocate for investment in the community.

 

Fernando's professional and educational background includes a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and an Associates in Applied Science in Biomedical Engineering Technology, from Farmingdale State College, State University of New York.

 

Volunteer at Local Farmers' Markets

Sustainable Long Island seeking volunteers

 

Sustainable Long Island is looking for volunteers to donate their time for a few hours on upcoming Saturdays and Sundays; helping faciliatate a survey at local farmers' markets across Long Island.
  
Volunteers will speak with and interview customers at each market - reading survey questions aloud and recording responses on paper surveys. These surveys are designed to help the markets evaluate their progress, including how customers are using the market, if the market is meeting customer needs, etc. The survey also offers opportunities for customers to emphasize what they enjoy most about the markets and what they can do to improve.
  
Sustainable Long Island will help conduct the surveys, compile, summarize, and share the results with project partners. The results will be used to advocate for farmers' markets in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, seek future support for similar projects, and document the impact these initiatives have on surrounding communities.

 

The days/times vary by each market (see below). Those interested can call Sustainable Long Island at 516-873-0230 and ask to speak with Erin or Janice. You may also email your interest in volunteering to info@sustainableli.org.

 

Volunteers needed:

 

Flanders | 10am-2pm | Saturdays through October 13th

Freeport | 11am-3pm | Saturdays through October 27th

Wyandanch | 1pm-4pm | Saturdays through October 27th

North Bellport | 11am-4pm | Saturdays through October 27th

Roosevelt | 11am-3pm | Sundays through October 28th

New Cassel | 11am-3pm | Saturdays through November 17th

 

Cleaning the Urban Environment with "Sustainable Backyards"

Blogger Kaid Benfield details Chicago's new program

 

(Via Switchboard - Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Staff Blog) - Chicago has a new program to help residents join the city in reducing stormwater pollution cleaning the air, cooling "heat islands," and improving public health. It's called Sustainable Backyards, and it's educational, participatory, and effective at the same time. 

 

The city provides financial assistance in the form of rebates that reimburse citizens for up to 50 percent of the cost of installing trees, native plants, compost bins, and/or rain barrels. There are reasonable limits based on the value of the ecosystem services provided by each product: you can get a rebate for up to $100 for planting a tree, for example, or up to $40 for installing a rain barrel.

 

The value of a tree can be substantial: The net cooling effect of a young, healthy tree is said to be equivalent to ten room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day. They also absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, among many other functions. Plantings and rain barrels can help stave off runoff that occurs when rainfall runs into overburdened sewers and receiving rivers, streams, and lakes, picking up pollutants along the way. 

 

Chicago was one of the cities profiled in NRDC's study of water pollution and green infrastructure solutions, Rooftops to Rivers II. The Chicago-based Center for Neighborhood Technology has been selected by the city to manage the Sustainable Backyards program. In a press release, the Center explains some of the benefits

 

"The program was created to alleviate basement and neighborhood flooding and reduce the flow of polluted water... using green infrastructure. Green infrastructure, as opposed to gray infrastructure (such as pipes), uses natural processes in order to infiltrate, evaporate, and/or reuse stormwater. Many of the green infrastructure practices encouraged have a multitude of benefits, from providing wildlife habitat to cooling the air and fostering a sense of community."

 

Check out the below video for a great introduction

to the issue and to this innovative program:

Neighbors Fight Stormwater Pollution by Building Rain Gardens
Neighbors Fight Stormwater Pollution
by Building Rain Gardens

American Clean Energy Agenda

A call for a renewable energy future    


A new effort to promote a truly clean energy agenda has emerged from the collaborative efforts of grassroots organizations all around the country. Initiated by the Civil Society Institute and the Environmental Working Group, and endorsed by 38 organizations (and counting) around the country representing over 1.5 million Americans, the American Clean Energy Agenda calls for a number of bold steps to move the United States toward a clean, safe energy future.

The American Clean Energy Agenda is available online.

The American Clean Energy Agenda calls for a number
of bold steps, including: phasing out nuclear power, natural gas, coal and industrial biomass in favor of efficient use of renewable, non-polluting resources; opposition to a "clean energy standard" that includes coal, nuclear, oil, gas and unsustainable biomass; retooling federal "loan guarantees" to make smarter investments in renewable energy; greater emphasis on renewable energy and energy efficiency
programs; and avoiding a future in which Americans suffer the consequences of mountaintop mining for coal and fracking of shale gas that is then exported for use in other nations.

To find out additional information on this new agenda and pushing the next Administration and Congress to adopt an energy policy that protects Americans from the dangers of fossil fuels and nuclear power and promotes prosperity by investing in energy efficiency and renewables,email Jen Filiault at jennifer@americancleanenergyagenda.org 

 

Shop Smart. Do Good!

Shop all day while supporting Sustainable Long Island

 

   

Lord & Taylor will be hosting Shop Smart. Do Good! - an exclusive day filled with special savings at their Garden City (Tuesday, October 30th) stores. As part of the celebration, Lord & Taylor is giving Sustainable Long Island an opportunity to raise thousands of dollars toward advancing sustainability across Nassau and Suffolk Counties.

 

Sustainable Long Island is one of several non-profit groups participating in the sale of $5 admission tickets to Lord & Taylor's Shop Smart. Do Good! event. Sustainable Long Island retains all the proceeds from our ticket sales. With each purchase of a ticket, you receive:

  • Two 25% bonus coupons!
  • A 15% savings pass to be used all day long on regular and sale-priced merchandise store-wide!
  • Opportunity to win great prizes!
  • Also, if you sign up for a new Lord & Taylor credit account, you will receive an additional 15% off all of the day's purchases, on top of the coupon or savings pass savings!
  • Current cardholders will receive an additional 10% off all day long!

The top three organizations with the highest ticket sales will receive a bonus donation from Lord & Taylor. In addition, the top organization with most overall online ticket sales will receive an EXTRA bonus donation in the amount of $500.  


To order tickets to the Shop Smart. Do Good! event, visit the event webpage (Garden City) and click Sustainable Long Island from the drop down menu as the organization you are supporting when purchasing a ticket. You can also contact Tammy Severino at 516-873-0230 or by email: tseverino@sustainableli.org to purchase a ticket and help advance economic development, environmental health, and social equity for all Long Islanders.

 

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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 donation 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