Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Tumbleweeds Loom Larger On Long Island's Horizon

"Exit" Poll Finds LI's "Under 40s" Primed To Flee

Maybe it's the lack of affordable housing, or the dearth of jobs that provide a living wage. Perhaps the over-the-top property taxes are the cue, or the diminishing return on one's investment. Could be the general decline in Long Island's quality of life that's driving Generation Next away from here, or the spector of "downtowns" that are perennially depressed, "Main Streets" that are little more than open sewers, and those lofty visions of the suburban dream that have faded into memory, leaving only a nightmarish presence as defined by the ugliness of the Turnpike and the aloofness of local government.

Whatever the reasons -- and they are, to be sure, many and varied -- the young are poised to leave Long Island, in droves, further eroding the tax base, devastating the local economy, and leaving behind those who, by dint of their stubbornness or foolishness, must stay behind to foot the bills.

We watch the tides roll in and roll out on our Long Island. Day after day. Year after year. What washes ashore, aside from the occasional body or discarded tampon, is a mass of toxic seaweed that threatens, in its wake, to overrun the beach head.

Further inland, at places like the Nassau Hub, the tumbleweed gather outside the Coliseum like so many Tribbles, unruly masses ready to roll down the Turnpike, smothering everything in their path.

Maybe it's not simply the taxes, the housing shortage, the egregious cost of living, the jobs, the sheer magnitude of the down and out in our towns and hamlets. Maybe it's that local government, rarely proactive, and, of recent vintage, barely able to react with even so much as a knee jerk, has all but abandoned efforts to renew, revitalize, re-energize, or so much as read the writing on the crumbling walls of blighted brownfields.

And when reports and studies issue declaring, with admonishment, "Long Island's young people are leaving," populace and politicos alike, as if amused by Henny Penny's cry of "the sky is falling," do little more than shrug.

Guess what? The sky is falling!

Where opportunity knocks, local officials hide under the bed, never answering the door. Where big ideas are proposed, our local politicos think small. In lieu of future design, there is the default of resignation. Actions supplanted by words delivered on colorful leaflets in residents' mailboxes. Master Plans shelved. Citizens' visioning dismissed.

Projects ill-conceived. Plans left to turn to dust on the drafting board. Proposals rejected. Promises and artists' renderings regurgitated, rehashed, and recycled, but nary a shovel taken to the street.

"A better burb is coming." Yes, and so is the Messiah.

Even where there is progress, it is, at best, nominal, coming too late and costing too much. The "one step forward, two steps back" approach to everything from reclaiming downtrodden downtowns to reducing property taxes that are out of control.

Sad, we think, where the only quantifiable measure of progress is a township's disingenuous claim of having advanced the cause of transit-oriented development, when, truth be told (though who will be left to tell it?), town government did absolutely everything within its power to derail redevelopment.

The folks at Long Island Index aren't telling us anything new, really. We've heard it all before. Last year. The year before that. A decade ago.

And maybe that's the problem. Nothing changes. Not for the better, anyway. Mired in the past. Clueless about the future. We refuse to adapt. We choose not to evolve. We have truly become the town where time stood still.
- - -
From Newsday:

Report says rentals are key to keeping LI's young


Adapt or watch a generation of young professionals flee.

That's the message to municipalities from this year's Long Island Index report, which is to be released Thursday. It again focuses on underutilized downtowns. With few exceptions, the 13 towns, two cities and 22 villages that participated have been slow to embrace smart growth, the report concludes.

Outdated master plans and zoning codes hurt, but the report lays most blame on restrictions for developing high-density rental housing that typically anchors downtown redevelopment and attracts young adults.

Of the Long Island residents age 18 to 34 who participated in an Index survey, 64 percent said they plan to leave in the next five years. Three-quarters of the total 807 Long Island residents polled said the loss of younger residents is a serious problem, compared with 40 percent of those in suburban New Jersey who also participated in the 8th annual report, "Getting It Done: Aligning Long Island's Development Processes with Sustainable Economic Growth."

"All my nieces and nephews are moving away. And all my old friends, they're gone," said Mira Garland, 33, a Mastic stay-at-home mom and survey respondent. "They complain they can't afford to live here."

Nancy Rauch Douzinas, president of the Rauch foundation, a Garden City charity that funds various family and environment programs as well as the Long Island Index, said, "it's obvious we have not kept pace." Last year, the index identified 8,300 acres with development potential in 150 Long Island downtowns.

Hicksville was one such area. The Town of Oyster Bay, which includes the large hamlet, didn't participate in the index's land use planning survey, but town officials have opposed increased density.

"This bigger-is-better, or denser-is-better, approach, where one size fits all, we don't believe in that," Hal Mayer, Oyster Bay's environmental consultant to the supervisor, said Wednesday. "Each community knows what's best for itself."

The index acknowledged some progress. It cited Patchogue, Amityville and Mineola villages and Babylon, Islip, Brookhaven, Riverhead and Hempstead towns as trying to reshape their downtowns.

But only Hempstead, Long Island's most-populated town, has undertaken a transit-oriented development. The district around West Hempstead's LIRR station is to include a 150-unit apartment complex within walking distance of the station, a town spokesman said.

The index concluded other towns mostly ignore potential around the Long Island Rail Road, creating "isolated station(s) in a sea of parking."

The Huntington Town Board in September rejected the transit-oriented Avalon Bay housing development in Huntington Station. Critics claimed the project would have overburdened the community while supporters called it key to revitalization.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What Number Please?

Important Winter Telephone Numbers from Nassau County Exec Ed Mangano

Never mind that by the time you wade through the litany of numbers it will likely be spring. Nothing beats having "local control" over that snow plow and salt spreader, right? Just imagine, for a moment, if the simple public service of snow removal was to be consolidated into a single, county-wide command. Nah. What fun would that be, especially for those of us who so enjoy paying more to play in the snow...

Dear Neighbor:

Winter is upon us in full force! In preparation of another snowy season, I want to provide you with important contact information for emergency services that you may need:

To report power outages or downed power lines:
•LIPA Hotline: (800) 490-0075
•Freeport Electric: 378-0146 (Village of Freeport residents only)
•Rockville Centre Electric: 766-5800 (Village of Rockville Centre residents only)

Information on mass transit service:
•LI Bus travel information: 228-4000
•LIRR 24 hour travel information center: 718-217-5477
•MTA/LIRR/LI Bus online:
•NYC Transit travel information: 718-330-1234

Up to the minute information about traffic conditions on Nassau County's major roads:
•NYS Department of Transportation's 511 service: or by calling 5-1-1.

To Report snow plowing issues:

City Maintained Roads
•City of Glen Cove: 676-4402
•City of Long Beach: 431-1000 EXT. 7232

Town Maintained Roads
•Town of Hempstead: 489-5000, 538-1900 (after hours)
•Town of North Hempstead: 311 /869-6311
•Town of Oyster Bay: 677-5757

Village Maintained Roads
•Village of Atlantic Beach: 371-4600
•Village of Baxter Estates: 767-0096
•Village of Bayville: 628-1439
•Village of Bellrose: 354-1000
•Village of Brookville: 626-0973
•Village of Cedarhurst: 295-5770
•Village of Centre Island: 922-0606
•Village of Cove Neck: 922-1885
•Village of East Hills: 621-5600
•Village of East Rockaway: 887-6316
•Village of East Williston: 746-0782
•Village of Farmingdale: 249-0111
•Village of Floral Park: 326-6321
•Village of Floral Park South: 352-8047
•Village of Flower Hill: 627-2253
•Village of Freeport: 377-2289
•Village of Garden City: 465-4001
•Village of Great Neck Estates:482-0083
•Village of Great Neck Plaza: 482-4500 EXT. 115
•Village of Great Neck: 482-0019
•Village of Hewlett Bay Park: 295-1400
•Village of Hewlett Harbor: 374-3806
•Village of Hewlett Neck: 295-1400
•Village of Island Park: 431-0187
•Village of Kensington: 482-4409
•Village of Kings Point: 482-7830
•Village of Lake Success: 482-2559
•Village of Lattingtown: 676-6920
•Village of Laurel Hollow: 692-8105
•Village of Lawrence: 239-5149
•Village of Lynbrook: 599-8838
•Village of Malverne: 599-1200 EXT. 6
•Village of Manorhaven: 883-7000
•Village of Massapequa Park: 798-0244 EXT. 38
•Village of Matinecock: 759-7021
•Village of Mill Neck: 922-5440
•Village of Mineola: 746-0750
•Village of Munsey Park: 365-7790
•Village of Muttontown: 364-3476
•Village of New Hyde Park: 354-0064
•Village of North Hills: 627-3451
•Village of Old Brookville: 671-4664
•Village of Old Westbury: 626-0800
•Village of Oyster Bay Cove: 922-1016
•Village of Plandome Heights: 627-1136
•Village of Plandome Manor: 627-3701
•Village of Plandome: 365-2757
•Village of Port Washington N: 883-5900
•Village of Rockville Centre: 678-9288
•Village of Roslyn Estates: 621-3541
•Village of Roslyn Harbor: 621-0368
•Village of Roslyn: 621-1961
•Village of Russell Gardens: 482-8246
•Village of Saddle Rock: 482-9400
•Village of Sands Point: 883-3044
•Village of Sea Cliff: 671-0468
•Village of Stewart Manor: 354-1800
•Village of Thomaston: 482-3110
•Village of Upper Brookville: 759-7522
•Village of Valley Stream: 825-8494
•Village of Westbury: 334-0062
•Village of Williston Park: 746-2193
•Village of Woodsburgh: 295-1400

County Maintained Roads
•Nassau County: 888-684-4274

State Maintained Roads
•NYS Department of Transportation: 631-904-3059

As always, you can also contact my office at 571-3131 should you have any questions or need additional assistance.


Edward P. Mangano
Nassau County Executive