Jun 05, 2018

Ward: Unlocking Long Island’s potential starts with comprehensive analysis

Suffolk County IDA helped New Village at Patchogue with property tax abatements and sales & mortgage recording tax exemptions. (Photo courtesy of Suffolk County IDA)

In 2012, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced his regional economic development plan, Connect Long Island. Central to this plan was the creation or enhancement of vibrant, walkable, transit-oriented downtowns.

While communities across the Island recognize the latent potential their downtowns possess, many don’t have the in-house technical or planning capacities to make them a reality. That is why, beginning in 2014, the Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency partnered with the Regional Plan Association (RPA) to offer jurisdictions across Suffolk the assistance they need to begin realizing their community’s potential.

The initiative sees  interested communities work with RPA to create individualized “opportunity analyses” that provide a roadmap for revitalization by reimagining underutilized spaces, trouble-shooting dangerous intersections or even recommending zoning changes that could unlock a community’s potential. To date, six such analyses have been completed – Amityville, Lindenhurst, Kings Park & Smithtown, Route 110, West Babylon and Hauppauge Industrial Park –  and the results are impressive.

RPA’s work with the Town of Smithtown netted $40 million in state infrastructure funding and more than half a million dollars in county planning grants.

Amityville’s work leveraged $80,000 in downtown revitalization funds and the village is on the cusp of adopting a new Transit Zone that would create more rental apartments downtown.

As a direct result of its collaboration with RPA, Lindenhurst has already adopted a new downtown development zone, received $200,000 in implementation funds and is currently considering the approval of a 260-unit rental development directly across from its train station.

When it comes to change, Long Island is too often seen as the land of “no,” but RPA’s work shows it doesn’t need to be that way. When communities ready to embrace the future are provided with the resources they need to achieve their goals, change can happen. Sometimes quite quickly.

While Bellone’s economic development plan is regional in nature, he fully recognizes that much of the implementation will be local in scale. With the help of some visionary community leaders, RPA and the Suffolk IDA, that vision for tomorrow is becoming a reality today.

To learn more about Suffolk IDAs work with RPA, visit www.SuffolkIDA.org


Theresa Ward is Deputy County Executive / Commissioner of Suffolk County Economic Development and Planning & Chair of the Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency.