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Opinion

It's true: City residents are taking refuge on Long Island

Packages wait to be sorted in a Post

Packages wait to be sorted in a Post Office in Atlanta. Credit: AP

Daily Point

Reverse commute

There have been the anecdotal real-estate stories, the interviews with parents about their kids reclaiming childhood bedrooms, and some data on higher electricity usage out East, all indicating that New York City residents are reacting to the coronavirus pandemic by fleeing to Long Island’s greener and more spacious pastures. Now postal data, acquired by The Point through a Freedom of Information request, shows a rather dramatic data set for the exodus so far.

In total, the United States Postal Service logged close to 25,000 permanent or temporary change-of-address requests from NYC individuals, families, or businesses to Long Island, March through June. 

The numbers are a big jump. Each March for the last few years, there have been just a few dozen temporary New York City changes-of-address to Suffolk County  – an average of just under 50 each March in 2017, 2018, and 2019. 

Click here to see how many change-of-address requests were processed in March 2020.

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Talking Point

Superblock hearing needs a supersized space 

A few weeks ago, members of the Long Beach City Council asked the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency to slow down on its deal to grant $52 million in tax breaks for a deal to build oceanfront luxury housing, retail space and a parking garage at the city’s Superblock site. 

Now Nassau IDA board Chairman Richard Kessel says he’s trying to move forward to schedule meetings where the public can really weigh in, with the city council’s approval, but the process is tough, and other negotiations may have begun beyond what he’s involved with.

“I’ve scheduled two hearings on this deal, for Aug. 6 at 6 p.m. and Aug. 7 at 10 a.m.,” Kessel said, “but those are both on Zoom. Now what I’m trying to do, with the help of the city, is find some place [where] we can have an in-person hearing, with people properly distanced but able to weigh in.”

Developer Engel Burman plans to build 200 condos and 238 apartments on the site, along with first-floor retail space and structured parking for 1,000 cars. The company’s quest for the $52 million break was first presented to the public via Zoom early in July.

Kessel said he’s working with Long Beach Council President John Bendo, who early in July had worried the deal might not pay Long Beach as much as it costs the city to provide the development with services. Now Kessel says, “I won’t say the city supports the deal, but they don’t oppose it,” and said officials are also talking to the developer about getting certain items, whether it be a community benefit plan or an acceleration of tax payments early in return for lower taxes later, that might make the deal an easier sell for the strapped city.

This is the third try in five years to build on the Superblock site. The first two involved a company called iStar, which was granted height variances to build 522 luxury apartments, then claimed it absolutely could not go forward without $129 million in tax breaks. When that plan failed thanks to a public outcry over granting tax breaks for luxury oceanfront apartments, iStar came back with a new plan, saying it could not go forward without $109 million in breaks.

Now Engel Burman says it needs tax breaks to proceed, too, but has from the start tried hard to get the community behind its plan. 

And while some community members oppose the tax breaks, the kind of vitriol that accompanied the past two attempts has been nowhere in sight. 

Of course, neither have the residents who oppose the deal, which could change if Kessel can find a venue to host them.

—Lane Filler @lanefiller

Pencil Point

Another bankruptcy

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Quick Points

  • President Donald Trump says the prevalence of mail-in balloting in November will produce a rigged election. Former Vice President Joe Biden says foreign meddling, including from Russia, could taint the election. Finally, they agree on something: This election is in trouble.
  • Northrop Grumman and Navy officials have characterized the $585 million state plan to contain the Grumman plume as a response to public complaints and not based on sound science. But it’s largely the same plan for cleaning many of the same contaminants that has worked to contain another plume at Brookhaven National Lab – you know, a place where hundreds of scientists do very sound science.
  • President Donald Trump tweeted that he will not be able to throw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium on Aug. 15 – because he will be having meetings on coronavirus vaccines and the economy. Since when does he know about meetings three weeks away? 
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is among GOP lawmakers saying that they might break for the August recess without having a stimulus bill. With the economy in dire shape, local governments in financial shambles, unemployment payments ending, and schools facing major budget cuts, why are they even talking about an August recess?
  • The White House is eager now to show President Donald Trump’s “renewed focus” on COVID-19. Which implies, of course, that his focus had been lacking.
  • Olivia de Havilland was nominated five times and won two acting Oscars, starred in “Gone With the Wind,” and was the last link to Hollywood’s old studio system before she died, but her most important achievement was transforming the way those powerful studios controlled actors like her. Kudos to a well-lived life of 104 years, on and off the screen.
  • The hardest-working man in show biz has completed his worldly gig, chatting his way through six decades of humor and humble humanity. RIP, Regis.

—Michael Dobie @mwdobie

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