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Governor Paterson Comes to Long Island

477.LI Lobby Day group shot

Unique meeting with Small Businesses, Union leaders, Human Service Groups, Environmentalists, Smart Growth and others.

On Thursday, October 8, 2009, Governor Paterson met with a new Long Island Coalition that includes unions, small businesses, AARP, Smart Growth, and transportation organizations, environmentalists and human service groups. Participants discussed pressing Long Island issues including: the allocation of stimulus funds, sewage needs, energy, transportation, small business needs, economic development and universal design.

The Governor arrived ready to get down to business. He spent over an hour with the group, sticking to the well-thought out, poignant agenda. The coalition covered many topics including transportation, universal design, off-shore wind, reducing the LIPA debt, downtown revitalization, and sewer infrastructure. For transportation, Tri-State Transportation Campaign took the lead and thanked the Governor for the Safe Seniors program: the LI pilot program was a success and should continue. We need more money for Long Island Bus, which is currently facing a 25% cut from Nassau County. There was a “very instructive” talk on how people who ride the bus are often lower income residents who do not have a loud voice and are not well represented in Albany. The coalition seeks a better long-term solution, such as a regional bus system. Gov.Paterson seemed to have a hard time identifying any opponents of the regional bus idea, which was initially laid out as part of the Ravitch Commission report on the MTA’s finances. The group would like to see a Complete Streets policy that emphasizes walking and biking and not just cars, to which the Hempstead-raised Governor replied, ?I?m glad I didn’t grow up on Long Island now- I would have gotten killed in the process!? The group also wants to see a fix-it-first policy for roads and bridges. Everyone agreed that they need to see a transit component worked into the Lighthouse project. Paterson agreed that the Lighthouse project needs to move forward and has promised private conversations with Hemstead Supervisor Kate Murray and Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi.

(Top row: Chris Murray, Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce, Larry Kushnick, Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce, Michael Harrison, Office of Governor David Paterson, Tawaun Weber, Vision Long Island, Kate Slevin, Ryan Lynch, Tri-State Transportation Campaign, Maureen Murphy, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Roger Clayman, John Durso, LI Federation of Labor, Judy Panullo, Suffolk Community Council. Bottom row: Eric Alexander, Vision Long Island, NYS Governor David Paterson, Adrienne Esposito, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Will Stoner, AARP)

The “universal design” discussion explained the concept and advocated for statewide implementation of this progressive idea that has worked on a local level. People want to age in their own homes and those with disabilities or are older need to be able to continue living in their homes. By simple methods such as stepless entrances, wider doorways, and bedrooms on the first floor, we can make our homes safer and allow people to live in them longer. Suffolk Community Council and AARP-LI explained these poloicies, highlighting three action steps: tax incentive legislation, amended building codes to allow these standards and requirements that any new housing built with public affordable housing dollars will have to be built using universal design.

Next was one of the Governor’s favorite topics: energy. He has done some great work and now we want to focus on the need for large-scale off-shore wind. Many Long Islanders want this now and do not want to fall behind the pace of other states. Paterson is “totally in favor” of an off-shore wind project somewhere along the South Shore.

The economic development part of the agenda focused on the crippling LIPA debt that affects every individual’s and small business o…