I'm writing concerning "Will Long Island ... Grow together, or grow apart?" [Editorial, July 17]. Newsday is calling upon policy-makers and the private sector to think regionally, which should be commended. However, it is important for the future regional effort to not get caught up in the political or special-interest milieu that weighed down the Long Island Regional Planning Council.

What once was a group detached from -- and many times ran counter to -- the political realities of the time, was turned into a group that is a shell of what it used to be, and is vulnerable to outsider interests and agendas.

Planners, and the plans that they produce, must conform to the economic and, unfortunately, political realities of the time. This conforming must take place in the final plan's implementation phase, and not during the crafting of the initial plan.

Regional planning, which is contingent upon cooperation and financial support from both counties, is essential for Long Island's future growth. Long Island's concerns are not confined to village, town or county lines.

As Long Islanders, we must realize that as flawed as the Regional Planning Council's approach was, there must be an entity to conduct the very important work of regional planning on Long Island.

If the council does go under, we should press our elected officials for a new regional entity. Too much is at stake to not think about Long Island's bigger picture.

Rich Murdocco, Setauket

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Editor's note: The writer is a project coordinator for the Long Island Pine Barrens Society.