How Hochul can deliver for LI
As co-chairs of the LI Regional Economic Development Council, we have worked with new Gov. Kathy Hochul for the past seven years and need her to work with our county, town and village officials to re-imagine our region.
First, the state has already made a significant investment in Nassau Coliseum and the "Hub," and it is critical that the governor maintain the commitment in infrastructure for parking structures and pedestrian bridges. The governor should work with Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin to redevelop the property and make the long-imagined plans a reality. Hochul’s collaborative style can help ensure the county and town approve a transformative plan for the Nassau Hub, and break ground. In light of the development of Belmont Park, the governor can help the town, county and developer come up with a plan as well as resources to repurpose or possibly retrofit the Coliseum, to complement Belmont rather than compete, and move the redevelopment of the entire area forward.
Next, the Islip portion of the Ronkonkoma Hub and the proposed Midway project envisions a mixed-use sports/entertainment and convention center as well as a new plane terminal better connecting MacArthur Airport to the Ronkonkoma train station. The governor should work with Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter to meet Suffolk’s growing commercial, transportation and travel needs. This can be accomplished if the state would financially support the relocation of the existing airport terminal to the north, adjacent to Ronkonkoma station, to make it the only real train-to-plane experience in the region. And while Hochul is working with Bellone and Carpenter, she should direct the state Department of Transportation to widen and expand the Sagtikos Parkway, a roadway that is the site of some of the Island’s worst traffic jams. An expansion would accommodate the future development of the Pilgrim State property.
Third, the governor should direct the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to work with Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine as well as Bellone in finding a new location for the Yaphank LIRR station to provide rail access to Brookhaven National Laboratory, which will generate new economic activity in Brookhaven. At the same time, Hochul should encourage the LIRR to pursue electrification of, or to make battery storage improvements on, the Port Jefferson branch to reduce the commute for Suffolk residents east of Huntington. The governor’s leadership can move the MTA and Town of Oyster Bay’s redevelopment of Hicksville forward, while ensuring MTA officials, and the new appointments she will likely make to the board, complete the Third Track and East Side Access projects next year and that new Penn Station plans consider Long Island commuters.
A partnership with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and the local congressional delegation is critical to improve our infrastructure. Gov. Hochul needs to make sure Long Island receives its fair share of new federal infrastructure dollars. This past winter created lasting damage to our state roads and the Long Island Expressway, and our state parkways need to be resurfaced. The governor should direct the state DOT to accelerate resumption of the widening and reconstruction of Route 347 in Smithtown and Brookhaven, and initiate the environmental impact study for Sunrise Highway at the Oakdale merge in Islip, as well as accelerate the study for the Southern State/ Meadowbrook Parkway interchange improvements. Key to Long Island’s smart-growth planning, struggling downtowns cannot grow without providing more sewers, the governor already knows, so infrastructure dollars should also be directed to expand downtown sewer capacity.
Just as critical is the state’s commitment to the growing knowledge economy on Long Island. The governor should continue state investment in our colleges, universities and health care institutions as we continue to create an innovation economy and the research corridor on Long Island. Hochul already has been a champion of expanding childcare in the state and realizes it is an important economic development issue and thus we need her to direct more state and federal dollars to our region to create more affordable child care slots here.
The new administration should continue to support efforts to protect Long Island’s ground and surface waters and to make Long Island the renewable energy capital of our state with our leading solar and burgeoning offshore wind industries. Investment in workforce development, including technical and management competency training at regional institutions of higher education, can prepare Long Island’s manufacturing sector to become part of the offshore wind supply chain. And a new industry provides new career and workforce opportunities for New Yorkers at every education level and ability, helping to kick-start an equity economy on Long Island.
And when it comes to the structure of the Long Island Power Authority, the governor should independently evaluate all options of whether LIPA should be municipalized, privatized or remain a public-private model, supporting whatever option makes the most sense for ratepayers and the Long Island economy.
A new governor may provide the momentum to address some old challenges. Long Islanders stand ready to partner with Gov. Hochul to help the Island thrive.
This guest essay reflects the views of former Long Island Association president Kevin Law and former Hofstra University president Stuart Rabinowitz, the co-chairs of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council.