Vision Long Island held its 22nd annual Smart Growth Summit on Dec. 1.
The day-long event, held at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury, featured over 100 speakers across 50 Long Island communities to discuss challenges facing residents and potential solutions across political and physical boundaries.
Alongside panels and workshops held throughout the day, the event featured a luncheon featuring keynote speaker and Suffolk County executive-elect Ed Romaine (R). Romaine stressed his vision for the county, regardless of affiliations.
“We need to build a better county government, and we need to work across party lines and across geographic lines,” Romaine said.
The afternoon panel featured other speakers across state government, including Suffolk County Presiding Officer Kevin McCaffrey (R) and Senators Monica Martinez (D), Jack Martins (R) and Kevin Thomas (D). All of them provided their perspectives on the ongoing infrastructural issues that Long Island faces today.
In her comments, Martinez specifically named transportation development, housing and water quality as some of the difficulties that residents are facing. On water quality, she said, “Unfortunately this year it was not on the ballot, but I know that next year we’re going to work, again, bipartisanly, to make sure that this gets on the 2024 ballot.”
Romaine supported Martinez’s comments in his keynote speech, stating, “I’m all in support of this. We need this, we need sewers in my county. 70% of my county is unsewered,” adding it’s important for both water quality and economic growth.
Martins made remarks on developing downtown areas, which was a major platform in his time as Mineola Mayor. He said developing these areas can solve various issues, such as housing. “We all understand we need housing in our downtowns,” Martins said. “We understand that we have separate communities, but we also understand that we don’t have a ‘one size fits all’ approach to housing on Long Island.”
McCaffrey supported Martins’ goal of downtown growth and used his time as a legislator of Suffolk County’s 14th District, which includes Lindenhurst. He attributed the growth of the town to transportation reform, stating, “Every successful downtown started with putting transportation-oriented development in that downtown.”
Other panel discussions include small business assistance and Long Island road revitalization.
With various items to address as 2024 begins, the speakers stressed that collaboration is the key for Long Island to thrive next year. “
Through the various crises we’ve faced over the last few years, the folks in this room have always come together to work collectively to tackle unique, Long Island challenges,” Thomas said.