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Opinion

Changes coming to MTA board

Kevin Law, president and CEO, during a meeting

Kevin Law, president and CEO, during a meeting of the Long Island Association in Melville on Feb. 14, 2018. Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

Daily Point

Cuomo taps Kevin Law for MTA board

Long Island is making quite a showing at the MTA Friday.

Suffolk County will have a new representative on the board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, The Point has learned. Kevin Law, president of the Long Island Association, will replace Mitch Pally who held the high-profile seat for 14 years.

Law, a St. James resident who is a relentless cheerleader for Long Island, is expected to work closely with new MTA board chair Pat Foye of Port Washington. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Foye’s nomination Friday afternoon.

Pally was a holdover appointee since 2016 and was seeking to be reappointed to the board, which guides the massive regional transportation agency. Cuomo initially sought to gain more control of the MTA board, which has 17 voting members, by adding more seats. However, the legislation that will enshrine a new congestion pricing plan to raise billions in capital investment for city transit and regional rails will not include such an expansion.

Pally, head of the Long Island Builders Institute who is active in business and civic affairs on Long Island, sought to delay a 4 percent planned fare and toll increase in January until after the state budget to see whether there was an alternative to new revenue.

Pally said in an email said it was “an honor and a privilege” to serve on the board. “I wish my successor and friend the best success he can have for our region,” he wrote. 

Rita Ciolli

Talking Point

The winds of change

Wind is coming, and Long Island needs to get ready. And most likely you won’t see massive turbines from the shoreline.

That was the message conveyed Friday by representatives from three of the four companies bidding for state contracts for big offshore wind farms. They spoke at a Friday morning meeting in Melville of the Long Island Association.

Jobs were a prime topic, with Clint Plummer of the Danish giant Orsted citing a projection that 40,000 people will be working in offshore wind in the geographic area between Washington and Boston by 2030.

“No state in America has a much potential as New York. We sit literally at the epicenter of this industry,” said Plummer, whose company is pitching the Sunrise wind farm of up to 800 megawatts 30 miles off Montauk. “The Long Island community, which is the tip of the spear of this market, should be thinking about the opportunities.”

Lars Pederson, of Liberty Wind, said the company’s 1,200-megawatt project 85 miles off Montauk would mean 2,500 new jobs for New Yorkers, about 40 percent of them on Long Island. Though most of those would be in construction and the like, he and others said a possible permanent operations and maintenance base on Long Island would mean 100 longtime direct jobs.

“We’re scrambling to get people in who know anything about offshore wind,” Pederson added. “This is a great opportunity for new students to get into this industry, from the guy on the flatbed truck to help with construction to someone with a PhD. in marine biology.”

To that end, all three representatives talked about partnering with local schools on job training programs.

Pederson said Liberty Wind is ready to spend $20 million on research and development and on job training in association with institutions like Stony Brook University, SUNY Maritime College, community colleges and vocational schools.

Shortly after Friday’s meeting, Orsted announced $10 million in funding for a workforce training center for renewable energy jobs at Suffolk County Community College, money contingent on Orsted winning one of the state contracts.

Jonathan Forde of Empire Wind, a project from Norwegian giant Equinor in the New York Bight that could be as close as 14 miles from Nassau County, said his company is partnering with Farmingdale State College and SUNY Maritime on starting a training program, and with Stony Brook University on research and wind resource assessment.

As for Long Island logistics, neither the Liberty Wind nor Sunrise Wind projects will be visible from land. For Empire Wind, Forde said, “The visual impact will be minimal.”

Liberty Wind’s cables would come ashore under Jones Beach, parallel the existing Neptune cable up a portion of the Wantagh Parkway, then veer off and plug into an existing substation in Melville on Ruland Road. Sunrise Wind has several possible landing spots in Suffolk County, Plummer said, while Empire Wind could come ashore in New York City or Nassau, according to Forde.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, which put out the solicitation for 800 megawatts of offshore wind, is scheduled to make awards by the end of April. There could be one or more contracts given, and they could exceed 800 megawatts.

Michael Dobie

Pencil Point

Gobble Gobble

For more cartoons, visit www.newsday.com/opinion

Reference Point

Holding the bag -- again

The prologue for a Nassau County drama, as written by Newsday’s editorial board:

“Taxpayers throughout the county have long known that that matter of assessments in Nassau was not a dormant problem. Too many people are affected; too many people have complained.”

In Act I, a new assessment system intended to equalize valuations and make them fairer is devised.

In Act 2, the first tax bills are sent out and “residents discovered that in the great number of cases the equalizing was upward; few valuations had been reduced.”

In Act 3, homeowners grieve, some on their own, some hiring attorneys for “a fee equal to one-half the amount saved in one year’s tax bill.” The most successful are the wealthiest homeowners, for whom “one case after another was settled at great savings to the large landowner.”

The play was published by the board — on March 26, 1941.

Yes, Nassau struggled with its assessment system even then. The county executive was J. Russel Sprague and there were other intrigues in play — like controversy over a state bill that sought to establish boards of assessment review around the state, and the indictment of the head of an organization helping small homeowners with their certiorari cases for illegally practicing law — but the epilogue written by the editorial board 78 years ago this week makes that decades-old play timeless:

“...the problem of the small homeowner is still far from settled.”

Michael Dobie

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