Repurpose school buildings to reduce class size. Make Long Island more attractive to city dwellers looking to relocate and boost the region’s growth. Embrace solar and offshore wind energy projects to create more good-paying jobs to help Long Island rebuild its economy. Improve responsiveness and leadership in government but leave everything else alone.
Those are some of the interesting suggestions the editorial board received after it asked readers to offer ideas about changes that should be made in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. We asked you to think about all aspects of our society, and you did. Now we want to hear from more of you.
We’d like you to join fellow Long Islanders like Robin Brandvein of Baldwin, who focused on education. Brandvein’s plan includes continuing distance learning for students in middle and high school, using those buildings to create more elementary school classrooms to make classes smaller and safer, and bringing middle and high school students back on weekends for labs and tests. John Vadnais of North Merrick suggested the same could be accomplished by reopening shuttered junior high schools and religious schools, and by splitting school days in two.
Continuing to revitalize Long Island’s downtowns was a priority for Steve Bard of Central Islip. Business growth requires a strong labor force, wrote Bard, president of the arts nonprofit Teatro Yerbabruja, so strengthening the region’s cultural environment — what he called its “vibrant and creative arts centers, performing arts venues, visual arts museums and galleries, street festivals and parades” — and increasing its stock of affordable housing are essential to attract the workers who will help fuel Long Island’s recovery.
Other readers tackled other challenges, ranging from the necessity that organizers of road races and marathons be innovative in planning safe events for large numbers of entrants, to an argument that big investments in clean energy would be transformative in addressing the related crises of the COVID-19-devastated economy, climate change and extreme economic inequality.
Another school of thought was represented by Ken Vicino of Hicksville, who wrote that the only thing that needs to change is government.
“I don’t see a reason to alter our lives, and our way of living just because a very small amount of people who we put into positions of trust dropped the ball ... They failed, not us,” Vicino wrote. “We the people did our part for the better part of the group. We did it for each other. We don’t need to fix anything, the government needs to.”
We invite you to join this debate. If you have research that can inform us, please send it along. The more voices that speak up, the more ideas that are offered from people of different communities, occupations and life experiences, the richer the conversation and the better the chances that together we can find ways to help us emerge stronger from this pandemic. Please post your thoughts at newsday.com/FutureVisionLI.
Together we can create a more resilient Long Island.
— The editorial board