Sustainable Long Island
November 2012  
Sustainable Long Island Newsletter
The one-stop-shop...
For all Sustainable Long Island news! 
In This Issue
Hurricane Sandy Update
An Evening of Song and Celebration
The Brownfield Blues (LIBN)
Downtown Bethpage Public Workshop
Food Equity Advisory Committee
Energy Efficent Holiday Tips
EPA Water Quality Update
Donate today!
Board of Directors

Ruth Negr
ˇn-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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Hurricane Sandy Update  

   
Since Hurricane Sandy came ashore one month ago, many things have changed. There is a renewed focus on Long Island infrastructure, energy, power, and sustainability. Faced with a major set back, we as a region now move forward. We'd like to take this time to thank all of those who have played such a crucial role in the recovery process, which is far from over. Sustainable Long Island will continue to work with our community partners to give them the support they need to recover and are refocusing our efforts on making the region as a whole more sustainable in the future.

Below are some links to important resources that we hope you will find useful during this time of recovery:

An Evening of Song and Celebration  

December 11, 2012 at OHEKA Castle
  
I think we can all agree that Superstorm Sandy demonstrated just how unsustainable and vulnerable Long Island is to such events. In the aftermath of the storm, our efforts are as strong as ever; making the region more sustainable in the future. With that said, we have chosen to move forward with our holiday event. Your support will go a long way toward helping revitalize safer, stronger, more vibrant downtowns, redevelop brownfields across Nassau and Suffolk Counties, and making healthy food affordable and accessible to families Island-wide.

Sustainable Long Island invites you to join us for an evening of song and celebration on Tuesday, December 11, 2012 from 5:00pm - 7:00pm at OHEKA Castle. This holiday season event, featuring renowned opera singer Daniel Klein, will celebrate the organization's commitment to Long Island's communities and all of their residents; our environment, our economy, and the preservation of our natural resources.  

 

Tickets and sponsorship opportunities are available and highlighted below. For further details visit our event homepage or contact Tammy Severino at tseverino@sustainableli.org today!

 

Tickets

$100 per person

  

 

The Brownfield Blues  

Time is running out on environmental cleanup incentives
   

The latest edition of the Long Island Business News features an informative article on brownfield redevelopment on Long Island. Sustainable Long Island served as a resource to reporter Bernadette Starzee and Executive Director Amy Engel is quoted throughout the piece. 

Vacant gas stations that sit on many Long Island streets are going to remain idle for a while.

 

That's because these sites fall into the category of brownfields - properties whose reuse or redevelopment may be complicated by contamination or potential contamination. Redeveloping a brownfield is an endeavor fraught with multiple challenges.

 

Roughly 6,800 properties on Long Island are or potentially may be brownfields, according to a 2008 count, the most recent available, made by Sustainable Long Island, a Farmingdale-based organization concerned with economic development and environmental sustainability. Brownfields include shuttered gas stations, dry cleaners, industrial facilities or any property that may have been contaminated.

 

Benefits of greening brownfields

Cleaning up brownfields has economic as well as environmental benefits, said Amy Engel, executive director of Sustainable Long Island.

 

"It's a win-win for the region," she said.

 

Public investment in brownfields leverages private investment and creates jobs, Engel added.

 

"For every $1 of public investment in brownfields, you get $8 in total investment," she said, citing the publication Brownfields Policy Research. Redevelopment of eyesores will also get them back on the tax rolls, Engel added.

 

Further, redeveloping one brownfield serves a catalytic purpose, raising property values around it and creating more interest in redeveloping other properties.

 

"If you could redevelop one closed auto dealership in a visible location, it would help the community by raising surrounding property values and spurring additional cleanups," Engel said.

 

Contaminants on brownfield sites not only present hazards for the site, but may impact the region's drinking water, as well. And redeveloping a brownfield allows the developer to take advantage of existing infrastructure, rather than taking over pristine farmland, Engel added.

 

What's the holdup?

In a weak economy, redevelopment of brownfields is particularly challenging.

 

"Other sites are available at low prices, so sites requiring remediation are left to sit," said John Cameron, managing partner of Cameron Engineering & Associates in Woodbury. Cameron sits on the New York State Brownfields Advisory Board.

 

"From a developer's standpoint, why go through the regulatory process and other aggravation to remediate a property and potentially take on future liability?"

Adding to the woes is the tight lending environment and lenders' hesitancy to get involved with properties that could lead to liability.

 

"The state has tried to insulate lenders and developers who were not at fault, but there are still some issues that they're concerned about," Cameron said.

 

To clean up a brownfield, the investigation phase typically takes one to two years and the remediation phase takes another year or two, said Michael Posillico, principal of Farmingdale-based engineering firm Posillico Inc., which has redeveloped several brownfield sites.

 

"That time frame may not fit into the financial plans of many developers," said James Rhodes, senior vice president of P.W. Grosser Consulting, a Bohemia-based engineering and environmental services firm that has served as Suffolk County's brownfield consultant since 2006.

 

Further complicating matters is the high cost of cleanup, particularly for significant contamination.

 

A typical Long Island Brownfield Cleanup Program remedial investigation may range from $30,000 to $150,000, including the administrative requirements, work plans, consulting, contractor, analytical and reporting costs, said Kris Almskog, vice president of P.W. Grosser Consulting. The remediation costs are even less predictable.

 

"I have seen remediation projects on Long Island requiring soil removal and disposal and/or groundwater treatment that cost between $200,000 and $5 million," Almskog added.

"Many property owners who want to do the right thing don't have the resources," Engel said. "If the state pushes too hard, the company may go bankrupt, and the state will get nothing. It behooves the state to work with the property owner."

 

Programs and projects

Several government programs provide tax credits or other incentives to private companies or local municipalities to remediate sites.

 

The New York State Brownfield Cleanup Program, which was started in 2003 and revamped in 2008, encourages a cooperative approach among the state Department of Environmental Conservation, current property owners, lenders, developers and prospective purchasers to investigate and/or remediate contaminated sites and return these sites to productive use. This program provides brownfield investment incentives, including business and personal tax credits for remediation and development costs, real property taxes and environmental insurance premiums.

 

Currently, 15 Long Island properties are part of the program, according to the DEC. The program's first certificate of completion was awarded last year for the site of AvalonBay Communities' two-building apartment complex in Rockville Centre, according to Rhodes, whose firm worked on the remediation of the former industrial site.

 

Posillico purchased Battery at Harbor Isle in the Town of Hempstead out of bankruptcy more than a decade ago. The 12-acre site formerly housed a fuel depot that held 17 million gallons of home heating oil. Posillico has gotten the property rezoned and approved for 172 units of multifamily housing.

"We have finished the investigation and are working with the DEC on final remediation," Posillico said. The company hopes to finish cleanup and start construction by 2014.

 

Posillico is also a partner in RXR Glen Isle, a 52-acre mixed-use brownfield redevelopment project on the Glen Cove waterfront. About 90 percent of the remediation has been done, Posillico said, and the partners have submitted the site plan.

 

Another state program, the Environmental Restoration Program, reimburses municipalities for a portion of site investigation and remediation through a grant. According to the DEC, there are currently nine sites in this program.

P.W. Grosser has been involved in investigating and remediating a handful of ERP projects in which Suffolk County acquired brownfields due to tax arrears. The site of a former gas station in Bellport has been completed and is ready for development, Rhodes said.

 

P.W. Grosser has also remediated a 58-acre parcel at Gabreski Airport, also owned by Suffolk. The state DEC approved the final engineering report, allowing a lease to go forward for the once-blighted site, Rhodes said.

 

The state Superfund program involves identifying, investigating and cleaning up sites where hazardous waste poses a significant threat to human health or the environment. When parties responsible for the contamination are known, the goal is to get these parties to pay for the investigation. When the parties can't be located or can't pay, the state pays upfront using money from the 1986 Environmental Quality Bond Act and tries to recover the costs after the investigation and cleanup are complete. Currently, 211 properties are enrolled in this program in Nassau and Suffolk and the state has spent more than $215 million to date, according to the DEC.

 

What the future holds

The Brownfield Cleanup Program has a sunset date of December 2015.

 

"A project has to receive a certificate of completion by that date to receive incentives," Rhodes said.

 

That will be a problem for many developers going forward.

"The next wave of projects will be in jeopardy," Posillico said, who added that the state needs to look at long-term solutions. "It's difficult enough to deal with a brownfield site - with the time factor to investigate and remediate the site and the stigma attached. The tax credits are needed to offset that."

 

State programs require multiple reports, which are time-consuming and costly.

 

"The state has attempted to streamline the process, creating templates for reports such as site management plans and environmental easements," Rhodes said.

Some in the industry see positive movement on the state level.

 

"Recently, there seems to be a push to accelerate projects and get more projects into the Brownfield Cleanup Program and move them along, which wasn't the case early in the program," Posillico said.

 

In October, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand traveled to Glen Cove to announce a new bill called the Waterfront Brownfields Revitalization Act, which would award grants to local governments and nonprofits that redevelop abandoned, idled or underused industrial properties on waterfronts, with the goals of spurring economic development while protecting the environment.

 

But that was before Superstorm Sandy.

 

"Brownfields redevelopment won't improve for the foreseeable future because of the immediate needs on Long Island that resulted from the storm," Cameron said. "With the flooding in the low-lying areas, fuel oil and home heating oil tanks were lifted out of the ground and caused to rupture in some cases. Remediation from this contamination will take top priority because of the public health and safety issue."

 

Downtown Bethpage Public Workshop   

First workshop brings concerned citizens to the table 

 

The Downtown Bethpage Retail Market & Revitalization Study project team held its first Public Workshop this past Wednesday, November 28th at the Bethpage High School, continuing the core public engagement component of this exciting project with downtown business owners and residents.

 

Over 50 attendees participated in the workshop, which consisted of a brief presentation and break-out group activity. The presentation touched on background information, results of the resident & business owner survey to-date, descriptions of the technical retail market and parking analysis components of the project, next steps, and participation opportunities along the way. Soon after, attendees broke out into various groups to discuss needs, priorities, and objectives for downtown revitalization in the following topics:

  • Pedestrian Safety/Safe Streets
  • Beautification
  • Downtown Business
  • Parking
  • Recreation.   

Updates on the project will be made available on the project website at www.downtownbethpage.com as it progresses. The Resident and Business Owner survey will remain open through the end of the year. If you have not done so already, please take a few minutes to complete it by clicking the link Resident and Business Owner survey. Stay tuned for more updates as the project moves forward!

 

Food Equity Advisory Committee  

Next meeting on December 7, 2012
   

Sustainable Long Island's Food Equity Advisory Committee has worked to identify issues in food access on Long Islandand think through project strategies. The Committee's next meeting will be held on December 7, 2012. The meetings have helped spark cross-sector dialogue and solutions and brought essential context to our policy and advocacy work. Topics of discussion for this next meeting are:

  • An update on the final development stages of our Food System Report Card; an ambitious indicator project that assess' the state of Long Island's food system. The Report Card will inform recommendations for a safe, fair, and sustainable food system and serve as the platform for subsequent community discussions about policy and program development.
  • The success and wrap-up of the 2012 Farmers' Markets season. This year Sustainable Long Island provided technical assistance to five different markets in Roosevelt, Bellport, New Cassel, Flanders, and Wyandanch; all of whom use the Sustainable Long Island project model of community-based, youth staffed markets that offer locally grown produce at an affordable price.
  • Three new food equity projects, made possible by a $65,000 grant from the William E. & Maude S. Pritchard Charitable Trust, which will continue to make fresh, healthy, and local foods accessible to all communities through research, local and regional planning processes, and project implementation. Details on the three new projects can be found on Sustainable Long Island's blog.

 

Have an Energy Efficient Holiday Season 

Give yourself a gift of energy savings with these holiday savings tips from NYSERDA

Whether you're hosting holiday gatherings, decking the halls with festive lighting or running countless holiday errands, the holiday season doesn't have to run up your energy bills. To reduce energy use during the holidays, follow these tips from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

Give the gift of savings 
  • Give your family the gift of energy savings with ENERGY STAR« qualified electronics such as computers, printers, televisions, battery chargers, Blu-RayTM players, DVD players and cordless phones. These products use less energy than products without the ENERGY STAR label.   
  • Include rechargeable batteries for additional savings. Although these batteries have a higher initial cost, they can be recharged and used many times, and therefore have lower environmental impact than disposable batteries.
  • Don't forget advanced power strips.  These strips eliminate standby or "phantom" power from electronics that still continue to draw power after they are turned off.  

Decorate with ENERGY STAR lighting 

  • Decorating your home for the holidays can be costly, but many energy-efficient options are available that can help save money. When purchasing lights, look for the ENERGY STAR label, and always remember to use an automatic timer to turn your decorative lights on and off.
  • Consider ENERGY STAR qualified decorative light strings featuring light-emitting diodes or LED technology. These decorative light strings consume 70 percent less energy than conventional incandescent light strands, can last up to 10 times longer, are cool to the touch, reduce the risk of fire in your home, and if a single bulb burns out, the rest of the LED string will stay lit. 

Combine Trips  

  • Plan your shopping trips carefully. Several short trips can use twice as much fuel as a longer one that covers the same distance. Stop by the store on your way home from work to conserve.
  • Be sure to drive sensibly and defensively as traffic increases around the holidays. Aggressive driving wastes gas and can lower your mileage by as much as 33 percent on the highway and 5 percent around town.  

No Peeking

  • Whether preparing holiday feasts or simply doing some baking, don't be tempted to open the oven door.  Every time you do, the temperature goes down 25 degrees, forcing your oven to work harder and use more energy.  
  • Heat multiple items in the oven together when preparing holiday meals and treats. Turn the oven off 10 to15 minutes early to let residual heat finish the job.   
Protecting the Nation's Water Quality
EPA announces revised guidelines and new toolkit 
 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced two updates concerning coordination and partnership with USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to protect the nation's water quality.

 

Clean Water Act Section 319 Nonpoint Source Pollution Guidelines Highlight USDA  

 

The EPA released a draft revision of Clean Water Act Section 319 Nonpoint Source Pollution (NPS) Program and Grants Guidelines for States and Territories. The draft Guidelines emphasize that states should work closely with NRCS to address water pollution from agricultural sources. They flag partnership opportunities in Farm Bill conservation programs including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Conservation Reserve Program, Conservation Stewardship Program, and Wetlands Reserve Program.

 

NRCS has launched a National Water Quality Initiative that provides for coordinated use of state and EPA resources with NRCS conservation program resources to address agriculture-related nutrient and sediment impairments in 154 watersheds. Funds can be used for activities that complement Farm Bill funding, including monitoring instream water quality, development of watershed-base plans to reduce pollutant loading, and funding watershed coordinators and technical assistance providers to work with local communities to promote the adoption of conservation practices.

 

Source Water Collaborative's New Toolkit for Drinking Water Source Protection

 

The Source Water Collaborative is an organization that focuses on protecting the nation's drinking water resources. The organization includes 23 federal, state and local organizations, including EPA and USDA's Farm Service Agency. The Collaborative recently launched an  online toolkit that provides steps that source water protection professionals and others working at the state level can take to build partnerships with NRCS to get more agricultural conservation practices on the ground to protect sources of drinking water. The Collaborative is now working with the National Association of Conservation Districts to develop a locally-focused supplement to the toolkit to provide a step-by-step process for collaborating with conservation districts.


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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