Reusing space for solar is oddly hard

Newsday’s editorial board recently advocated for solar cells on already developed land, such as parking lots, landfills and roofs, and wondered why no one had compiled a list of such host spaces, citing a lack of leadership on Long Island [“Save land and harness the sun,” Editorial, July 18].

Suffolk County a few years ago compiled such a list/inventory of its municipally owned lands and buildings. Unfortunately, Suffolk discovered enormous engineering and cost difficulties in retrofitting roofs or building solar arrays in the oceans of parking lots. Costs, for example, of putting solar in parking lots are nearly 75 percent or more than building on virgin land. The engineering, curiously, is very tough, which is why the Suffolk County parking lot solar systems have not been replicated and why private developers don’t consider retrofitting their lots.

Landfills have been proposed in the past for adaptive reuse, but public fears of piercing caps or releasing buried toxins have stopped such projects, for example in Port Washington.

Suffolk has been in the forefront of making solar easier to build countywide. The Suffolk County Planning Commission developed the nationally recognized residential permitting solar code, used in all 10 towns, and developed a model code for industrial scale solar to make siting easier.

Michael Kaufman, Nissequogue

Editor’s note: The writer is a member of the Suffolk County Planning Commission.

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LIRR neighbors know the score

In response to “LI steps boldly into the future” [Editorial, July 20], let me offer a perspective from a NIMBY.

I live a half block from the Long Island Rail Road tracks. The LIRR we deal with is a poorly run system and could care less about the people who live nearby.

My neighbors have had metal parts from moving trains land in their yards or hit their front doors. Jungle-like overgrowth, consisting of poison ivy and who knows what else, is almost never cut until a neighbor threatens to go to the media. There is a rumor that Agent Orange was used in the past to control vegetation, yet as the third-track project moves on, officials have offered no definitive response to this question, such as taking soil borings next to the rails.

Yes, we all knew when we moved here the railroad was here first. But years of dealing with the LIRR reflects our attitude about the third-track project.

I’m sick of the media telling us that it is our NIMBY attitude that is halting progress on Long Island. We no longer trust our elected officials or the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. We have no faith that this project will be completed on time, and face three to six years of construction and noise next to our houses.

The people who pushed this project live nowhere nearby. It’s clearly NITBY: not in their backyard.

Diane Fairben, Floral Park

Medicare works, why not replicate it?

Obamacare was a disaster and is not the answer [“Health care: bad politics and policy,” Letters, July 23]. Plans put forward by Republicans also do not look like good options.

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I consider myself a moderate Republican and I thank God every day for Medicare. My wife and I have been enrolled in Medicare for more than 10 years. We are in a Medicare Advantage program with Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield. It’s not perfect, but we are satisfied.

Why not create a single-payer medical plan for all and run it similar to Medicare? Insurance companies make money from Medicare Advantage, and Medicare is affordable for the people who are covered. We need to stop putting down ideas just because they originated with the other political party.

Republicans blasted President Franklin D. Roosevelt when he proposed Social Security. They also were against Medicare. When President George W. Bush added drug coverage, he was criticized.

If not for Social Security, and Medicare with drug coverage, I have no doubt I would have been in my grave long before now. Stop all the fighting, come together and support programs that work, regardless of whose idea it was.

Bob Southard, South Setauket