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Thread: In Middle Age, the Suburbs of Long Island Show Wear

  1. #1

    Default In Middle Age, the Suburbs of Long Island Show Wear

    February 12, 2004

    In Middle Age, the Suburbs of Long Island Show Wear

    By BRUCE LAMBERT


    Levittown, N.Y., which rose from Long Island's vast potato fields after World War II. Today, there is little land left to develop on the island, according to a new study.

    Long Island, where post-World War II suburbia was born, is in a midlife crisis and battling some disturbing social and economic trends that provide a window into issues that suburbs around the nation may face, according to a 15-month study sponsored by a nonprofit group.

    Average pay from Long Island employers has dropped in recent years, little land is left to develop, taxes are high, cars are multiplying faster than people, commuting times are longer and people are being priced out of the housing market, the report said. And an increasing minority population is coinciding with persistent segregation.

    Perhaps most striking is that a region long synonymous with families and children is losing part of its younger generation, and the median age of residents is steadily rising. In the 1990's, the number of people age 18 to 34 shrank by 143,184, or 20 percent, in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, the census showed.

    That age group also declined nationwide, reflecting the "baby bust" that followed the baby boom. But the island's drop was five times the national decrease of 4 percent.

    The report, titled Long Island Index 2004: Coming Together for Long Island's Future, analyzes the region's strengths and problems and sets goals for improvement. The Rauch Foundation of Garden City sponsored the study in a joint project with an array of government, civic, business and labor groups. Similar efforts are under way in Boston, Chicago and Silicon Valley.

    Long Island, where Levittown sprang from potato fields as an instant community, is now "the nation's first mature suburb," the report said. "Long Island is a case study in how do we reinvent the suburbs," said the study's director, Carrie Meek Gallagher. "Anecdotally, similar dynamics are happening in housing, the economy and transportation around Boston. It's almost post-suburbia. What do we do now?"

    The foundation's president, Dr. Nancy Rauch Douzinas, said, "We're hoping this will be a real tool for action." County Executives Thomas R. Suozzi of Nassau and Steve Levy of Suffolk are to speak at the report's presentation today.

    With 2.8 million people - more than the populations in 19 states - 1 million jobs and a $112 billion annual economy, Long Island remains a premier suburb. Its assets include highly rated schools, health care, parks, beaches and shopping and an educated work force, high employment, low crime and access to New York City.

    But the report found "a growing disparity by income, race and ethnicity that is clear in current housing, educational and health indicators."

    The study called the "brain drain" on the island alarming. "The region is exporting its most valuable product - its talented young people," the report said.

    A survey of young adults found that 53 percent were considering moving out, citing the high cost of living, especially soaring housing prices and burdensome taxes.

    As the young have left and Levittown-era pioneers have lingered into retirement, the island's median age has steadily risen. Now 29 percent of the population is older than 50.

    The sizzling real estate market may be a bonanza for sellers, but a third of Long Islanders spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing, the report said.

    In 1999 the median home price was about 2.5 times the median annual income. By last year, the median price had jumped to four times the median income in Suffolk and nearly 4.5 in Nassau.

    While the median home price, at $363,700, is comparable to those in other New York suburbs, the report said the scarcity of apartments resulted in "some of the highest rents in the metropolitan region."

    As for new housing, government and developers will have to be inventive because "there is very little undeveloped land left on Long Island that is not protected parkland," the report said. About 70 percent of the island is developed - nearly 90 percent in Nassau. By contrast, the report said that suburbs north of the city and in northern New Jersey are about 40 percent developed.

    Despite the fabled luxury of the Gold Coast and the elite Hamptons, the report said that 154,000 Long Islanders, or 5.5 percent, live below the poverty line, and many others are coping with dwindling income.

    From 1990 to 2003, the island lost 29,000 technology manufacturing jobs as most of the remaining aerospace industry - once the local economic engine - vanished. Still, there was a net gain of 80,500 jobs, led by an expansion of 34,000 jobs in health care.

    The catch was that the new jobs generally paid less. Average pay on Long Island peaked in 2000 at $42,875, and during the recession, it gradually slipped 6 percent to $40,329 last year.

    The Long Island paycheck premium is also shrinking, the report said. In 1993 Long Island workers earned an average of $39,385 a year, compared with the national average of $34,272, a difference of $5,113, or about 15 percent. Last year the local average was $40,329, while the national average was $38,636, a difference of only about 5 percent.

    Demographics are taking on new hues. The number of nonwhite residents increased from 16 percent of the population in 1990 to 24 percent in 2000. Hispanics are now the largest minority, making up 10 percent of the population, up from 6 percent in 1990. Next are blacks at 8 percent.

    But the races mostly remain in separate neighborhoods. "Long Island is one of the most racially segregated suburban regions in the nation," the report said.

    Immigrants are changing the island, where 196,255 of them moved between 1995 and 2002, the study said. Domestic migration in those years was led by 122,000 people from Queens and Brooklyn.

    Mass transportation is limited, and, as any local resident can attest, traffic is fierce. Ninety-four percent of households have at least one car; two-thirds have two or more. "From 1980 to 2000, the number of motor vehicles grew by 19 percent, more than three times the rate of population growth," the report said.

    Commutes are longer, too. In the 1990's, the number of workers commuting less than 30 minutes to work declined by nearly 50,000, the census showed. The number of people with longer commutes increased, especially those whose commutes took more than 90 minutes.

    The government that oversees Long Island is large, cumbersome and costly, the report found. "Jurisdictional fragmentation" characterizes the hodgepodge of two counties, 13 towns, two cities, 95 villages, 128 school systems and hundreds of other special districts for libraries, fire departments and other services, the report said.

    Together those governments employ 195,000 workers, more than any industry. Their workers' average pay is a fifth higher than the national average for government workers, a cost born by local taxpayers.

    "Long Island is at a tipping point, facing serious challenges," Dr. Douzinas said, adding that she was optimistic that solutions would be found.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

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    February 17, 2004

    Changes in Suburbia

    To the Editor:

    Re "In Middle Age, L.I. Suburbs Show Wear" (news article, Feb. 12):

    While clearly defining the changing Long Island labor and housing markets, your article understates the effects on Long Island schools. Increasing immigration and a higher birth rate among nonwhites are changing the face of suburban schools. Ethnicity data show a pattern toward greater diversity, especially in those school districts that are adjacent to large cities or have a longstanding minority population.

    The continuing success of suburban schools, and the viability of Long Island as a quality place to live, will depend on the leadership shown by government leaders at all levels in meeting this new challenge.

    MARC F. BERNSTEIN
    Superintendent of Schools, Valley Stream Central High District
    Valley Stream, N.Y., Feb. 12, 2004

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

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    February 21, 2004

    Young Adults Call L.I. a Fine Place to Grow Up, and Leave

    By PATRICK HEALY

    UNIONDALE, N.Y., Feb. 19 - One by one, the children of suburbia are leaving Long Island.

    There is the 24-year-old graduate student who moved to Washington State to study anthropology and found that it was cheaper to live in Seattle than Hempstead. There is the sheriff's investigator, Timothy Ortwein, who left and bought his first house, in West Virginia, at age 23. And there is Emil Soskin, 24, a third-year law student who is fed up with strip malls and subdivisions and longs for an apartment in Greenwich Village.

    New York's suburbs have long struggled to hold on to young adults, but county officials and demographers say the problem is becoming a crisis. In Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester Counties, 18- to 34-year-olds are leaving the suburbs at some of the fastest rates in the nation, moving upstate, to the South and the West and into New York City.

    Long Island, whose Levittown developments are shorthand for postwar suburbia, is a petri dish for the problem, development experts say. The young families and just-marrieds who once flocked here now balk at the soaring housing prices, high taxes and monochrome of suburban life.

    "What is the incentive to stay on Long Island?" asked Ilyssa Lindner, a 23-year-old nursing student who lives in Oceanside. "The cost of living out here is absolutely outrageous. You graduate, you're making good money, and you can't afford anything. It's driving younger people off Long Island."

    In the past decade, the number of Long Islanders between 18 and 34 years old has dropped 20 percent, a rate five times the national average, according to a recent survey of Long Island's population and economy. New York's northern suburbs saw an 18 percent drop in the same population over that time.

    The pattern is gradually reshaping the suburbs, on Long Island in particular, said Carrie Meek Gallagher, who directed the survey, the Long Island Index 2004. As the average age creeps up and birth rates fall, county officials worry that an absence of young workers will cripple the suburbs' growth and economies.

    "You're losing the talent; you're going to start losing businesses," Ms. Gallagher said. "It could change the whole face of the island, the whole face of the place in the next 10 years."

    Some county experts said they have started to notice ripples of that change. Some companies bus in employees from Brooklyn and Queens, while other major Long Island businesses like Grumman or Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory are struggling to attract talented young engineers, Ms. Gallagher said.

    To stem the exodus, county officials said, they have to make Long Island both enticing and affordable - both difficult tasks. The Nassau county executive, Thomas R. Suozzi, said building denser developments and moderately priced housing in downtowns, poorer neighborhoods and old brownfield industrial sites is crucial to keeping younger people on Long Island.

    "If we're going to grow, we're going to have to change our rules from when they were set up, in the 40's and 50's," Mr. Suozzi said.

    For countless people, the cycle of suburbia has been a predictable loop: Grow up, gripe that there is nothing to do, attend college, move to the city, then move back home to raise a family and skate toward middle age. But conversations this week with a dozen young Long Islanders who have left - or want to - suggest that they have little interest in returning.

    Mr. Ortwein, 24, the sheriff's investigator, is one of them. After growing up in Malverne and graduating from Elmira College with a degree in criminal justice, Mr. Ortwein tried to find a job as a police officer so that he could afford to buy a house in Nassau County, where the median home price is $405,000.

    Instead of renting, he got a job with a sheriff's department in Virginia, and he and his wife bought a three-bedroom log cabin nearby, in Jefferson County, W.Va. His property taxes are $600 per year, compared with Long Islanders's taxes that average $3,000 to $4,000.

    "I'm the only kid from our high school class who's actually been able to afford a house," Mr. Ortwein said. "We had to give up Long Island to be able to afford something. We're going to stay. The schools are great down here, and it's a great place to raise kids."

    According to the Long Island survey, 53 percent of young adults in Nassau and Suffolk Counties are thinking of moving away, while only one-third of people in their 20's and 30's in the northern suburbs and New Jersey said they were considering leaving.

    In the survey and interviews, those who want to go say that the cost of living and taxes are too high, that housing is scarce and overpriced, and that the available jobs do not pay enough to support living in the suburbs. Many said they need a car to get around, but do not want to pay high insurance costs and $1.80 for a gallon of gas.

    "The average person 18 to 34 can't afford to live on Long Island," said Jon Teaford, a professor at Purdue University who studies suburban development.

    The exodus happens in drips and spurts. Some go away to college and never return, while others go back to live with families in the suburbs after graduating, either to apply to graduate schools, plot their next move or save money on rent while they work.

    In the upper-income Suffolk County hamlet of Dix Hills, Shelby Tancer, 25, lives with his parents and commutes to Ozone Park, Queens, to teach first grade.

    His friends from high school have all moved, but Mr. Tancer said he hopes to stay."I thought more people would be around," he said, talking at his parents' home. "The money and the costs are just crazy. You can't be fresh-faced out of college and buy a house or rent a condo. It's tough. It's tough to stay around here."

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

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    May 11, 2003

    Long Islanders Say They Are Happier Than New York City Residents

    By DAVID WINZELBERG

    Long Islanders are most concerned about jobs and traffic congestion, but they're happier with where and how they live than residents of New York City or its other suburban regions, according to a poll of Long Islanders that its organizers say is the most comprehensive ever conducted.

    The poll, commissioned by the Rauch Foundation, a Garden City-based philanthropic group, explored the perceptions of 1,387 Long Island residents about their quality of life and issues of concern. For comparison, 600 residents of New York City, 400 in its northern suburbs, and 300 in suburban New Jersey were also sampled, and Long Islanders appeared to be the group most pleased with life in their community.

    While 67 percent of those polled in New Jersey and an equal percentage in the northern suburbs (including Orange, Rockland, Westchester and Fairfield counties) rated their quality of life as good or excellent, 74 percent of Long Islanders rated their quality of life the same way.

    Long Islanders had a more pronounced sense of regional identity than the other groups surveyed, with 86 percent of Long Islanders saying they identified very or fairly strongly with their region. The equivalent figure for New York City residents was only 77 percent.

    Long Island also was the only region of the four sampled where a majority of respondents said that, generally speaking, most people can be trusted.

    But the goal of the Rauch survey, the first of three it plans to conduct, was not to help the Island blow its own horn but to identify community concerns and help foster regional thinking to address them. "If we can put some good information out there, we could be a catalyst for all the other civic groups to solve the problems we face," said Nancy Douzinas, foundation president.

    Edward Blakely, dean of the Milano Institute at the New School University in Manhattan, and a consultant on the Rauch poll, said no previous polling efforts covered quality-of-life policy issues on Long Island in such depth.

    Respondents to the telephone survey, conducted in December and January and released in mid-April, identified jobs as the biggest problem facing all of New York's suburban regions. But more Long Islanders cited traffic than crime as a problem, reversing the ranking in the city and the other suburbs.

    The most serious environmental issue for all three suburban regions was uncontrolled development, although suburban residents also appear to be happy with their parks and beaches, according to poll results. At least 75 percent of Long Islanders rated their police protection, sanitation and public schools good or excellent. But most Long Islanders called their public transportation fair to poor, because it doesn't go where they are headed.

    The poll results were welcomed by Mitchell Pally, a vice president for government affairs for the Long Island Association. "Surveying Long Islanders, having town meetings helps us identify the problems and understand the ramifications of the issues," Mr. Pally said. "It could be very valuable."

    Mr. Pally said he was not surprised that jobs were mentioned most often given the stagnant state of the economy. But he also pointed out that the poll results showed that people are staying here longer. "Most people who have moved to Long Island find it's not only a great place to live, but a great place to stay and retire in," he said.

    Neal Lewis, executive director for the Long Island Neighborhood Network, said the poll would help to bring important concerns to the forefront, and indicated a change in the public's attitudes. "There is a growing agreement on what the priority issues are on Long Island," Mr. Lewis said. "Years ago, you couldn't bring up affordable housing, no politician would touch it. Now even business leaders are talking about it."

    According to the survey, only 5 percent of Long Islanders said housing was the biggest problem facing their community, but 92 percent said "housing for working people" was fairly or very important. The affordability issue, though not labeled specifically, is a thread found throughout the responses, said Eric Alexander, director of Vision Long Island. "Jobs, the economy, and housing are all tied together with affordability," he said.

    The median rent for housing on Long Island ($964 in Nassau and $945 in Suffolk) is the highest of any of the counties within and around New York City, according to foundation statistics. One out of three renters on the Island, and one out of four homeowners, spend more than 35 percent of their household income for a place to live.

    Mr. Alexander said he was not surprised that uncontrolled development made the top of the environmental complaint list. "People don't mind certain kinds of development within our communities," he said. "But when they see new homes taking up a farm field, those become emotional images."

    Mr. Alexander, whose group promotes a re-emphasis on village downtowns as shopping and cultural centers, also suggested that some Long Island respondents took a decidedly rose-colored view of where they live. He scoffed at the survey's finding that 84 percent of Long Islanders agreed that they had a walkable and bikeable community. "That is not matched with our reality," he said.

    Craig Charney of Charney Research Institute in Manhattan, which conducted the poll, said the discrepancy could have come from a misunderstanding of the question or the way it was asked. He defended the general methodology, saying the sampling of Long Islanders closely matched the area's demographics from 2000 census figures.

    But some contend that doesn't include everyone in the community. In his job as a public safety supervisor for the town of Huntington, John Ramirez said the biggest community problem where he works is immigration, which was cited by only 2 percent of respondents to the Rauch survey.

    "They are not counting correctly," he said. "It's not accurate. I know what's there."

    The documented Hispanic population is growing faster than any other group on Long Island, increasing almost 80 percent from the 1990 census to the 2000 census.

    While 72 percent of Long Islanders polled said there was racial diversity in their communities, Long Island is still 76 percent white, and has fewer minorities than the New Jersey or northern suburbs.

    The poll found that 69 percent of Long Islanders said race relations in their community were good or excellent. Surprisingly, black and Hispanic Long Islanders were slightly more likely to have a favorable impression of local race relations. But at the same time, lower-income blacks were the only group on the Island to rank police brutality as one of the three biggest local problems.

    Some people were surprised by what wasn't mentioned in the poll. "I'm surprised that taxes were not considered one of the major problems," said Jeff Lipman, 49, a dentist from Huntington. (He did not participate in the poll; Charney Research did not identify respondents willing to grant followup interviews.)

    Mr. Charney said that although some respondents might have complained about taxes, a perennial Long Island lament, the question was never asked directly. But he suggested that later surveys in the Rauch Foundation series were addressing the issue, saying, "I have seen more recent polling that asks about problems facing government where taxes and budgets came out very high."

    The tax issue shows up in other ways, however. Although Long Island respondents said education ranked sixth on the local problem list, after the economy, traffic, crime, sprawl and housing, Beverly Wayne, 49, from Huntington, said education was the most important issue because "the biggest problem is finding a way to meet the needs of all the students with the limited resources available."

    The poll showed that 86 percent of Long Islanders belong to some kind of organization, like churches, neighborhood associations or labor unions, and 96 percent said a strong sense of community was fairly or very important. But almost none of those questioned said they worked as volunteers and very few were active in civic groups.

    "People are not involved enough in what's going on in their community," said Steven Landis, 56, of Hampton Bays. "They live in ignorant bliss." Mr. Landis said the "threat of the casino being built in the next couple of weeks" was the biggest problem in his neighborhood, an allusion to plans by the Shinnecock Indians to build a gambling hall on tribal lands just west of the Shinnecock Canal.

    Another example of a tendency among Long Islanders to be disconnected from their surroundings was the 21 percent who said they didn't know about the condition of their waterfront. "Many people here aren't aware of the water, which is ironic because we are the largest island contiguous to the U.S. mainland," said Jay Tanski, a marine environmentalist with the New York Sea Grant program at Stony Brook University. Some of the ignorance has to do with lack of access, Mr. Tanski said, since a lot of Long Island waterfront, especially on the North Shore, is private.

    Mr. Tanski agreed with the 54 percent of Long Island respondents who rated their waterfront good or excellent. "Given the level of development in this area, the quality of the waterfront is very high," he said, adding that upland sources of pollution were the newest focus in maintaining a pristine shoreline.

    The next Rauch poll, currently underway, focuses on children and families. The third is to address the economy. The three polls and an accompanying demographic study cost about $350,000, Ms. Douzinas said.

    The Rauch Foundation was founded by Louis and Philip Rauch in 1961. The two brothers made their fortunes in the auto parts business in Brooklyn. Now the foundation helps fund civic, family and environmental causes throughout the Island.

    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

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    March 14, 2004

    Space, the Dwindling Frontier

    By VIVIAN S. TOY

    THE Rottkamp Brothers Farm is a 50-acre oasis in a section of Old Brookville that is solidly built up with suburban homes. The men in suits who drop by every few weeks with offers to buy it are proof of how ripe the spot is for development.

    So it does not surprise or bother Richard Rottkamp that his family's farm has been listed as one of about 40 large properties in Nassau and Suffolk that the Long Island Regional Planning Board wants to see acquired by a government agency or a charitable trust, so that it can be preserved from development. The wish list of properties is part of a just-completed update of the board's islandwide open-space preservation plan.

    Mr. Rottkamp says he and his brother, Ray, aren't selling - to anyone. Besides, given Nassau County's still-precarious finances, the county is not likely to try to buy the property outright. But county officials are interested in pursuing other steps that could be taken to assure that the property will remain farmland in perpetuity. And that's just fine with Mr. Rottkamp, who is 54 and has worked the farm all his life.

    "It doesn't bother me that they take a stand," he said. "We don't want to get rid of it, but we've been thinking about a lot of things as life goes on, and you can't stay the same age your whole life, so we're open for anything that comes along if it's within reason."

    The regional planning board is strictly an advisory agency - it has no powers to act on its own - but its recommendations carry significant weight with county and town governments. It has proposed an aggressive preservation agenda that would protect nearly 45,000 acres of open land in Nassau and Suffolk counties, including 12,500 acres now in private estates, 12,640 acres of private golf courses, 14,000 acres of Suffolk farmland and 5,200 municipally owned acres not designated as parkland.

    County and local officials and conservation groups have embraced the plan, saying that it highlights the need to protect what open space is left on Long Island. Development is consuming land so rapidly on the island that planners and preservationists say unprotected open land could be all but gone in 5 to 10 years.

    Business and farm leaders also support the plan, saying that preservation of open space and farmland is crucial to Long Island's economy and to the quality of life. Developers, on the other hand, say it ignores the growing need for housing.

    "The plan is ambitious, but they hit it on the head that it's now or never when it comes to aggressively pursuing land preservation," said Steve Levy, the Suffolk County executive. "The pressure is greater now than it's ever been, and we have to act to ensure that we win the race against overdevelopment."

    Lee E. Koppelman, the executive director of the regional planning board, said that the private estates on the list were chosen based on environmental and hydrogeological importance, particularly those situated in special groundwater protection areas. The board also emphasized properties that abut existing preserved open space and those that would provide waterfront access.

    In Suffolk County, most of the properties on the list are at least 100 acres, the minimum considered necessary to create a regional park. So little undeveloped land of any size is left in Nassau that the board's choices there are mostly smaller than 100 acres.

    The list includes one property that has been on preservationists' minds for decades: Gardiners Island, the 3,300-acre island between the forks of the East End, owned by the Gardiner family since 1639. Another is the 275-acre Sylvester Manor on Shelter Island, owned by the Sylvester family since 1651.

    Others include Camp Wauwepex, a 551-acre Boy Scout camp in Wading River; the 75-acre Cove Neck estate of Charles B. Wang, the founder of Computer Associates; the 100-acre Phipps estate in Old Westbury; and closest to the city, the 410-acre Whitney estate in Manhasset.

    Town and village officials have already struck deals with owners to protect some of the properties. For example, the Town of North Hempstead has agreed to treat the Whitney estate as if it belonged to a charity - sparing the owners what would otherwise be an immense property tax bill - in exchange for a guarantee that the family will not build on the property and that the town will get a two-year opportunity to arrange to buy the land if the Whitney family ever decides to sell. The family plans to create an international peace center on the estate.

    "Some of the property isn't in imminent danger of being lost," Dr. Koppelman said of the board's islandwide list. "But we've got to keep them on the radar screen, so when they do come up, we're ready to act on it and see that it is preserved." The planning board found that more than 174,000 acres of open land, or nearly 23 percent of Long Island's total land area, already enjoyed some kind of protection, as public parkland or through conservation easements or the purchase of development rights.

    "With that much real estate already in one form of preservation or another," Dr. Koppleman said, "if additional property is put on, then Nassau County and Suffolk County will have an enviable record."

    He said that Long Island voters over the years have approved a variety of land preservation laws and bond issues, demonstrating that they "are willing to put in a sizeable amount of money to save their open space."

    The planning board would like to see municipalities buy any properties on the list that they can, but also would encourage the municipalities to look into legislation that would make open space a priority.

    For example, Dr. Koppelman said, towns can offer reduced property tax assessments to private facilities like golf courses in exchange for long-term agreements not to develop the land for other uses. Towns can require that they be given first refusal when certain properties are put up for sale. Zoning laws can be adapted to encourage clustering homes on one part of a parcel and dedicating the rest as open space.

    Suffolk County has spent about $400 million over the last 30 years to preserve more than 30,000 acres, about half of it farmland, from development, using a farmland preservation fund, a drinking water protection fund and a dedicated share of sales tax receipts.

    But the county's open-space program came under harsh scrutiny two years ago after its director of real estate was accused of brokering a land purchase at an inflated price to benefit a business associate. The legislature responded by prohibiting the county from paying more than 10 percent above the average appraised value for any parcel of land, a rule that preservationists say has brought the program to a standstill.

    Last week, Mr. Levy, the Suffolk County executive, announced plans to revitalize the program by beefing up its legal staff, getting advance approval from the legislature to negotiate with owners and other changes. "We have $100 million available, but the problem is, we haven't had the apparatus in place to buy properties," Mr. Levy said.

    Nassau County has much less open space, but Thomas R. Suozzi, the county executive, has stressed the need to preserve it. Last year the county created its first open-space fund, to be financed with 5 percent of the proceeds from any sales of county-owned real estate; it is expected to get about $5 million in the next few years.

    "It's definitely a challenge, because there are so few large parcels left in Nassau County," said Patricia Bourne, the county planning director. "We hope to get to and save the significant ones."

    Nearly all the Nassau County properties on the planning board's list are in North Hempstead or Oyster Bay. In 2000, voters in both towns approved environmental bond acts that, among other things, will finance purchases of open space; Oyster Bay's program will get $20 million and North Hempstead's, $8 million.

    Jonathan Kaiman, the newly elected supervisor of North Hempstead, said the regional board's plan would be helpful to the town in its preservation efforts. "No one municipality has the funds, the expertise or even the will to put these funds where they need to be put," he said. "The regional planning board gives us context on a larger mission, and that helps us justify to voters why we're spending taxpayer dollars to preserve open space."

    Private nonprofit organizations like the Nature Conservancy and the Peconic Land Trust have been pursuing the same goal for decades, primarily in Suffolk County. According to the planning board inventory, the Nature Conservancy has protected nearly 15,500 acres, and the Peconic Land Trust an additional 3,500 acres. Affiliated groups have been created in the last two years to work in Nassau County - the North Shore Land Alliance and the Nassau Land Trust.

    The North Shore Land Alliance is working on a list of 35 conservation projects, ranging from a half-acre field on Centre Island to a 50-acre estate in Brookville. Lisa Ott, the group's executive director, said she talks to property owners as a neighbor who happens to know about conservation options that their financial advisers may not have considered.

    "Land and property is very private to people, and these are often difficult issues for families to consider," Ms. Ott said. "But property owners have been very open to conservation, because they have their land, because they love it, and it breaks their hearts more than anyone else to see all this development."

    Joseph R. Attonito, a lawyer for Robert David Lion Gardiner, the 93-year-old owner of Gardiners Island, said that "Mr. Gardiner's position is and always has been that the island must be maintained in its pristine state, and he is more than willing to facilitate whatever can be done to assure that." Mr. Attonito said Mr. Gardiner would not oppose turning the island into parkland.

    But Alexandra Creel Goelet, Mr. Gardiner's niece and the family member next in line to inherit the island, has said she opposes government intervention, although she and her family have pledged to preserve the island as a private family home.

    Other property owners on the list said they had no problem with being included on the board's list, because they had no intention of selling or developing their land. Ms. Bourne, the Nassau County planning director, said the county was intent on preserving its 140-acre 4-H camp in Riverhead as it is; though it may be turned over to some other government entity, she said, it will not go to a private developer.

    The Theodore Roosevelt Council of Boy Scouts of America, which operates Camp Wauwepex in Wading River, also has no plans to sell. "If someone came to us to talk about buying development rights, we'd have to listen," said Joe Kalamar, a spokesman for the council. "We wouldn't be opposed to talking about some conservation. We just want to make sure that what scouting uses the camp for stays intact."

    But at least one developer, who has a contract to buy the a 78-acre Pulling estate in Oyster Bay Cove, reacted angrily to seeing the estate on the board's list. The developer, John C. Kean, said that the Pulling family has been trying unsuccessfully to develop the tract for the last 13 years, and that the board's action would be used by village officials as another reason to stall his project.

    The Pulling family originally proposed the kind of clustered housing that conservationists believe would be the least harmful way to develop the land, because it would preserve a large fraction of it as open space while concentrating new homes on relatively small lots in the center of the property. But the project became mired in local politics, with one politician claiming the development would "turn the village into Queens," Mr. Kean said.

    His company took over the project three years ago and mapped out a subdivision with 24 homes on larger lots that would still maintain some of the land as open space. But from the village's reaction, he said, "you would think the Pulling family wanted to put up a nuclear power plant."

    Ralph Potente, mayor of Oyster Bay Cove, said that officials had acted in the best interests of the village as a whole in their handling of the project. Mr. Potente said that the village is considering a moratorium on new construction while it studies groundwater issues.

    Robert A. Wieboldt, the executive vice president of the Long Island Builders Institute, said the board's open-space plan would have negative economic effects. "The aggressive public acquisition of open space has driven up land costs," Mr. Wieboldt said, "and it has had an adverse impact on the affordability of housing on Long Island."

    He said that builders would consider building higher-density developments to save land, "but everything can't be off limits - protecting open space has to be justified against other needs."

    Richard Amper, executive director of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society, said that with the realization that Long Island is now so close to being fully developed, "there's finally a confluence of things coming together that aren't usually in alignment." The planning board agrees with environmental groups on preservation; conservationists agree with developers that clustering development to preserve open space is a desirable alternative to tract housing; and the business community recognizes the need to maintain farmland and open space to support agriculture and tourism.

    "It's like everybody's waking up at the same time," Mr. Amper said. "So maybe we really can stop the feeding frenzy of overdevelopment. We just need the political will and the right machinery to make it happen."

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

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    May 14, 2004

    Board Formed to Plan Development in Nassau

    By MICHELLE O'DONNELL

    GARDEN CITY, N.Y., May 13 - Nearly 60 years after housing developments began mushrooming across Nassau County, officials said Thursday that they had formed the first county review board to coordinate real estate planning.

    In recent decades, a lack of coordinated planning has increasingly posed problems in the county, where 287 square miles are chopped into 69 municipalities. Each has its own zoning powers and a tendency to embark on development projects with little regard for what lies beyond its borders.

    "We have to figure out how Nassau County can grow, but at the same time, preserve our quality of life," said County Executive Thomas R. Suozzi, who headed the formation of the board, called the Planning Federation. Mr. Suozzi said the move was another step in his plan to refurbish the county into what he described as "new suburbia."

    The federation arrives at a critical time for the county. Earlier this year, a report released by the nonprofit Rauch Foundation and various civic and business groups found that both Nassau and Suffolk Counties showed increasing signs of age. Open spaces have shrunk, home prices have skyrocketed in Nassau, new jobs typically are paying less and the county's young are fleeing to less costly places to buy their first homes, the report found.

    Under the federation, officials from the county's 2 cities, 3 towns and 64 villages will discuss planning issues and ways that the local governments can pool resources to apply for federal redevelopment grants, which were often overlooked in the past.

    And the federation will offer training to residents of cities, towns and villages who wish to serve on planning commissions - and often do - but who have little formal knowledge of urban planning.

    While Suffolk County reinstated its Planning Federation about 10 years ago, Nassau County had resisted such an effort until now. The federation has no statutory authority; under state law, each incorporated municipality has the right to zone for land use within its borders.

    Lee E. Koppelman, a professor at the State University at Stony Brook and the executive director of the Long Island Regional Planning Board, said that forming the federation was a step in the right direction.

    "The test will be when a local town doesn't want to do" what other communities and the county want, Dr. Koppelman said, adding that he hoped politics would play a secondary role. "Of course, to a certain extent," he said, "that's unavoidable. But the effort is absolutely worth trying."

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

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    June 13, 2004

    IN THE REGION | LONG ISLAND

    Creating Housing When Land Is Scarce

    By CAROLE PAQUETTE


    JOINING THE NEIGHBORHOOD James L. Neisloss in Huntington, where Meadowood Properties is building 10 homes at a former nursery.

    WITH almost all of Nassau County already developed and tens of thousands of acres in Suffolk County proposed for preservation, major builders are increasingly reduced to developing smaller, scattered "infill" lots.

    In many instances, parcels — some less than an acre — are being bought by major developers more used to building large developments.

    Robert Wieboldt, executive vice president of the Long Island Builders Institute in Islandia, a 650-member trade organization, said that Nassau is 96 percent developed and that most new home construction is in areas that are being redeveloped or on scattered lots. Suffolk has 95,000 acres of open land, but the county and towns are trying to buy at least half for preservation, he explained.

    Nick Cassis, an owner of Tibi Construction in Jericho, who has built such large Suffolk residential communities as the 186-unit Ranches in Mount Sinai, is planning to build 10 single-family homes on 10 acres in Port Jefferson. "We haven't done anything this small in a long time," he said, "but we have to — we are running out of land."

    Meadowood Properties in Islandia, which has built many developments with "Meadows" in their names, including 78 single-family homes in Selden and 104 co-ops in Valley Stream, is now building customized homes on scattered lots. With housing demand particularly strong, "the concept of purchasing teardowns or scattered vacant lots, even though not extensive, makes sense today," said James L. Neisloss, a Meadowood principal.

    A recent company project is the Meadows at Harborfields in eastern Huntington, which is being built on 4.73 acres of a former nursery surrounded by older single-family homes. Mr. Neisloss said he had paid $1.4 million for the site, where he plans to build 10 homes on two cul-de-sacs. The houses, center-hall colonials with postmodern facades, are to cover 2,800 square feet to 3,700 (with the option of a fifth bedroom) and to list for $749,900 to $809,900.

    Meadowood will also be building two 4,000-square-foot colonial-style homes in Manhasset that will sell for about $2 million. One house will be in a 50-year-old development on the site of a 2,800-square-foot house that will be razed. The other will be built on a one-third-acre site of an 1,800-square-foot ranch built about 50 years ago that will be torn down.

    Meadowood is also continuing to develop somewhat larger subdivisions farther east in Suffolk, including 22 single-family homes on 14 acres in Ridge, Mr. Neisloss said.

    Another major developer, the Klar Organization in East Meadow, has also turned toward constructing small subdivisions of customized homes. Klar is primarily known for large developments like the Waterways at Moriches, a 500-unit condo project for people 55 and over, now in its final phase of development. Another proposed project, Highview at Coram, which is to have 140 town houses, is awaiting approval by the Town of Brookhaven.

    "In the meantime, we have to keep our organization going, and building on smaller scattered lots is one way of doing it," said Steven Klar, the company's president. "Also, people want a lot of customizing these days, and we can do it in these small subdivisions."

    This month, Klar expects to begin marketing three small subdivisions:

    ¶Farm Lane at Locust Valley, on Nassau's north shore, where seven 3,000-square-foot houses are to be constructed on a former horse farm. They are to sell for $1.2 million to $1.5 million each.

    ¶Dalton Meadows in Huntington, in western Suffolk, an eight-lot subdivision on 10 acres. The new homes are to list for $890,000 to $990,000.

    ¶Manorville Farms, in eastern Suffolk, on the 8.5-acre site of a former nursery, which is to have seven 2,800-to-4,000-square-foot houses.

    Another major builder, Peter Worrell, president of the Worrell Group in Woodbury, said his company had been building large subdivisions. Now it is concentrating on the custom homes because of the scarcity of land, he said.

    One project involves construction of two houses on 8.5 acres of a former horse farm in Old Brookville. The houses — one 7,000 square feet, the other 8,000 — will sell for $3.6 million and $4.5 million.

    "These smaller parcels are also scarce," Mr. Worrell said. "When they go on the market, there are 8,000 people rushing to buy."

    Joining the quest for land are developers who traditionally have built on small lots, like Benchmark Home Builders in Huntington, which has been buying "spot lots" since 1985. "A lot of prime land is pretty much gone and a lot of what's left is not so desirable," said Ira Tane, Benchmark's president.

    Benchmark recently completed eight homes on two acres on a vacant downtown lot in Huntington, which "had become a dump site," he said. "People shook their heads and told me it was a bad move, but it came out to be a beautiful job," and the 3,000-square-foot colonials sold for about $700,000 each, Mr. Tane said.

    A short distance east in Dix Hills, Benchmark is planning Old Country Manor, three 4,000-square-foot homes that will sell for $1.2 million each on a four-acre cul-de-sac.

    Cliff Fetner, the owner of Jaco Custom Builders in Hauppauge, who has traditionally built on smaller lots, said that while the biggest hurdle is availability of land, once a parcel is found a builder faces an even bigger problem — because of the competition — in negotiating a deal that is profitable. Most two-acre buildable lots in Nassau County cost more than $1 million, he said.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

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    Is Long Island losing appeal?

    Study shows that many are giving up the high mortgages in the suburbs for the high-paced city life

    By Erin Texeira
    Staff Writer

    July 16, 2004

    Quality of life. It's the holy grail of the suburbs, the main reason generations of New Yorkers left the five boroughs in recent decades and flooded Long Island.

    But, in a new twist, more tri-state-area residents are steering clear of Nassau and Suffolk due to such quality-of-life complaints as traffic and high housing costs, according to a new study from Rutgers University.

    Now, for the first time in 30 years, the city is attracting more residents, jobs and housing - a shift that suggests New York's suburbs may have diminishing appeal, according to "The Beginning of the End of Suburbia?", which looks at trends from 1969 through 2001 using government statistics.

    "This relentless suburbanization has reached its low tide and the core areas are starting to be attractive," said Joseph J. Seneca, a public policy professor who co-authored the study. "We attribute that to the enormous strains on infrastructure experienced by the suburbs."

    Between 1969 and 1996, Long Island added residents and jobs, and per capita incomes grew, far outpacing the declining city, according the study. In Suffolk, for example, jobs more than doubled while Brooklyn's shrunk by 13 percent.

    But by the end of the last century, the suburban numbers were dipping as the city's rose. The data show that Long Island and New York City now are growing at about the same rate.

    Between 1990 and 2001, the population in the city grew by nearly 10 percent compared with 6.6 percent on Long Island.

    "This is the rebalancing of a very disparate growth pattern," Seneca said. "It indicates a shift in preferences for residences and businesses."

    Increasingly, people want to live near their jobs and near the city's cultural outlets, he said.

    The city life

    But why choose the noisy, fast-paced city over a serene, landscaped suburb?

    Many new immigrants to the region move directly to the suburbs in search of jobs and to be near already established family members. However, most still settle in New York City, swelling population rolls there.

    In addition, aging baby boomers whose children are grown are increasingly attracted to the city for its museums, theaters and restaurants.

    "I had one client, a retired widower, who moved from Patchogue [to the Upper East Side] in the last year," said Marc Lawrence, a real estate broker with the Corcoran Group in Manhattan. "He was finding he was reverse commuting for a lot of social opportunities here" in the city.

    Another factor: burdensome work commutes. As suburbanites have moved farther from congested work areas in search of their dream homes, commuting times have mushroomed. For instance, Census 2000 data show that the average Long Islander spends 33 minutes traveling to work, three minutes more than in 1990.

    "In this country, we have a history of picking up and moving if we don't like it the way it is in one place," said Valerie Scopaz, director of planning in Southold Town. "We're running out of places to move to."

    Island appeal

    For some, living far from work is still worth it. For 20 years, Gerry Bringmann, a construction manager, has commuted two hours in each direction on the Long Island Rail Road and city subways from his home in Patchogue to lower Manhattan.

    "The city is great Monday to Friday, but I wouldn't want to be here Saturday and Sunday," he said, noting that, like many of his neighbors, his family loves Long Island's open spaces and natural beauty. But, he added, "Believe me, spending 20 hours a week on the train isn't always great."

    For Kimberly Scott, Brooklyn was a better option than Long Island. After living in Port Washington for one year in 1999, the Hofstra University education professor decided that Long Island's traffic, high living costs and - in her neighborhood - lack of a feeling of community were not what she wanted.

    "At one time, I was walking around the block [for exercise] and the scenery was exquisite, but I never saw anyone I knew," said Scott, who now lives in Park Slope. "I just didn't feel comfortable and it was exorbitantly expensive."

    Life on Long Island was not always like this.

    For decades after World War II, Long Island and other New York suburbs saw unprecedented new housing development that sparked massive population growth. Many were young families who left Brooklyn and Queens for Long Island's bigger houses, better schools and quiet, leafy neighborhoods.

    At the same time, open spaces were preserved to prevent over-development.

    Now, more than 70 percent of Long Island is urbanized compared to about 40 percent of New York's northern and western suburbs, according to Carrie Meek Gallagher, a researcher with the Garden City-based Rauch Foundation, a nonprofit.

    "You can only develop so far here, being an island," she said.

    The land scarcity has driven up housing costs, making Nassau and Suffolk unaffordable for many, particularly younger residents, she said. A 2003 Rauch survey showed that 53 percent of Long Islanders between ages 18 and 35 have considered moving from the area, and the biggest reason is the high cost of living.

    In recent years, regional planners on Long Island have been discussing ways to address the area's slower growth.

    "As the population grows, you deal with, how do you accommodate a larger number of people in the same amount of land," Scopaz said. "We can start redeveloping places so that you don't throw away the good things on Long Island."

    The authors of the Rutgers study stress that the question mark in the title is key. It is not yet clear if city's recent surge will be sustained, Seneca said.

    The dot-com bubble, which lured jobs and residents into the city, may have prompted a spike in the numbers. And, in recent years, the city's drastic economic slump after Sept. 11, 2001, may have long-term effects not yet quantified.

    "We think we need to wait for additional time to see if this is a pause in that continued pattern," Seneca said. "But certainly we have consistent evidence on these indicators that the basic pattern has changed."

    Over the long term, experts said, Long Island will probably continue to prosper because the region still holds appeal for many residents.

    Suburban slowdown

    Recent studies by Rutgers University seem to show that the suburban boom evident since the late 1960s is cooling off, while urban areas seem to enjoying greater gains in jobs and population.

    GREATER METRO AREA POPULATION

    (in millions, rounded)

    All core urban areas All suburbs

    1969 9.93 9.65

    1990 9.16 10.73

    2001 10.00 11.70

    NYC AND LONG ISLAND POPULATION

    (in millions, rounded)

    New York City

    1969 7.86

    1990 7.33

    2001 8.06

    POPULATION CHANGE

    1969-1996 1996-2001

    All core urban areas -6.6% +9.1%

    All suburbs +56.2 +9.1

    New York City -6.6 +10.1

    Nassau County +27.0 +5.0

    Suffolk County +110.2 +13.4

    EMPLOYMENT CHANGE

    1969-1990 1990-2001

    All core urban areas - 7.8% +9.1%

    All suburbs +11.2 +9.1

    New York City - 6.7 +9.9

    Nassau County - 9.7 +4.1

    Suffolk County +21.1 +9.1

    NOTES: Core urban areas include the five boroughs of New York City as well as Essex, Hudson and Union counties of New Jersey. Suburbs include Nassau and Suffolk counties, and seven upstate counties in New York; Fairfield, Litchfield and New Haven counties in Connecticut; and 11 New Jersey counties. Employment change considers wage- and salary-compensated jobs, sole proprietorships and partnerships and self-employed persons.

    SOURCE: RUTGERS UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF PLANNING AND PUBLIC POLICY - http://policy.rutgers.edu/sprawl.pdf

    Copyright © 2004, Newsday, Inc.


    Suburban Sprawl Passé?

  9. #9

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    November 21, 2004

    LONG ISLAND

    Long Island, Rethought

    What's happening on Long Island? Drive around, and everything still looks pretty much the same: house, driveway, house, driveway. Deli, nail salon, pizza, Chinese. Navigator, Explorer, Explorer, Suburban.

    But don't be fooled. These are turbulent times. The original American suburb is being remade, reshaped and rethought by people far more energetic and determined than you might imagine. And they are moving on many fronts.

    Who are they?

    Thomas Suozzi, for one, the hyperambitious Nassau executive, who has a 10-point plan to create nothing less than a New Suburbia in his home county. There's Charles Wang, the billionaire who is through with software and now wants to build things, including a housing-entertainment-commercial complex at the Nassau Coliseum. Then there are individuals and groups eager to solve Long Island's housing crisis by building cheaper housing for young and old, an effort that would involve serious alterations to the landscape. They are joined by smart-growth planners dreaming of walkable downtowns, higher-density development and an end to the tyranny of the car.

    Perhaps most profoundly, there are tens of thousands of immigrants, reshaping the island from the ground up. Census figures from 2000 to 2003 show double-digit increases in the population of Hispanics (17 percent in Nassau, 23 percent in Suffolk) and Asians (about 25 percent in both).

    In recent weeks, several events have marked the effort to stake out the boundaries of Long Island's future. Soon after Mr. Wang unveiled his coliseum plans, a new group, the Nassau County Planning Federation, held its first countywide program on land use and planning. The next day, the Long Island Association held its annual goals conference, with only one agenda item: affordable housing.

    Events like these, together with rapidly shifting demographics, constitute a broad challenge to the old vision of Long Island as a mostly white enclave of single-family homes nestled among trees, highways and shopping centers.

    Even though it has stirred anxiety - many people worry that the new Long Island will look a lot like the old Queens - we welcome all this talk. We like the idea of taking development in a different direction - fewer outlet malls and superstores, please, and no more redlining - and we share the sense of urgency about work force housing.

    It was good news, then, when Mr. Suozzi and his Suffolk counterpart, Steve Levy, announced legislation this month to overhaul the Long Island Regional Planning Board, an advisory body that is often ignored but always respected for its attention to the big picture. Even as its venerable director, Lee Koppelman, works to complete a new comprehensive regional plan, Mr. Suozzi and Mr. Levy are seeking to give the board an overdue shaking, expand its membership and increase the frequency of its meetings to tackle high-priority issues.

    It's an excellent idea.

    But visions - the smart ones, anyway - take money. The board now runs on an appropriation of $200,000 a year from the counties, a negligible amount given the island's size and the breadth of the issues ahead. A rejuvenated council can do much to bring sanity and wisdom to the planning process, sharing expertise at the town and village level, where the real zoning and development power lies. It can be a welcome brake on the island's blinkered rush to pave and to profit - as long as it has the money for its mission.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by alex ballard
    Is Long Island's days in the sun over? Is it still growing? Will it ever return to it's old form?
    Quote Originally Posted by ASchwarz
    What makes you think LI's "glory years" are over? It's still growing and more expensive than ever. What makes it different from any other NY area suburb?
    Quote Originally Posted by fioco
    Long Island could never return to its old form, that is, it's days as pasture and farmland. Much of Nassau County is Queens East and that trend will continue. Who knows? Perhaps some day subway service will be extended to eastern Queens and into Nassau (Please don't laugh, it's nice to dream). Suffolk will continue its schizophrenic ways: insanely overcrowded summers in the Hamptons, diminishing farmland in the North Fork, and continuous sprawl until the 110 corridor becomes one huge strip mall from Babylon to Huntington (Oops, already is.)

    In the 50's and 60's, folks moved to Long Island for new housing, verdant lawns, bucolic neighborhoods and better schools. Robert Moses built the parkways to transport city workers to their suburban dream. Well over time, Queens came with them. Poor public transit is a major hurdle to surmount as Long Island transitions from suburbs to exurban extension of NYC. North-South connectors to the LIRR would be helpful. I've seen planning dreams of a light rail along the Meadowbrook Pkwy (?!) but Hempstead, Hofstra and the Coliseum areas remain radically underserved. Fortunately, I live on the south shore with easy transit access to NYC and Jones Beach. Long Island has plenty of room to grow. With thoughtful urban planning it could preserve the best of its features as it becomes denser and increasingly urban. I seriously pray it doesn't become another Virginia Beach!

  11. #11

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    January 21, 2005

    'Birth Dearth' Is Blamed for Decline in Population

    By PATRICK O'GILFOIL HEALY

    Long Island is the victim of something, but is it a brain drain or a birth dearth?

    Many researchers and politicians believe it is a brain drain - that Long Island's young adults are fleeing to New York City, the South and the Southwest in search of better jobs and cheaper homes. They cite census data from last year showing that Nassau and Suffolk Counties have lost about 140,000 18- to 34-year-olds since 1990.

    But a study released yesterday attacked that theory, arguing that there are fewer young adults on Long Island today because fewer people had babies 20 years ago. The author of the study, Seth Forman of the Long Island Regional Planning Board, is calling the phenomenon a birth dearth.

    "You don't need a larger explanation than that," Mr. Forman said. "There is no brain drain."

    A study released last year said that Long Island's population of young adults was declining at five times the national rate, and politicians and planners seized on the statistic. Both of the Island's county executives have called for more housing that is affordable to lower- and middle-class families to keep young couples on Long Island.

    Officials with the Rauch Foundation, which published the study, the Long Island Index, did not respond to phone messages. The foundation's 2004 study included a survey that found that 53 percent of Long Island's 18- to 34-year-olds had considered moving elsewhere because of the cost of living, high taxes and lack of housing.

    Ed Dumas, a spokesman for the Suffolk County executive, Steve Levy, said he disagreed with the new study, and still believed a housing shortage was forcing young adults off Long Island.

    The median home price in Nassau County is just under $450,000 and in Suffolk it is just over $350,000, according to December data from the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island. Thomas R. Suozzi, the Nassau County executive, and Mr. Levy have argued that few young families can afford those prices.

    But Mr. Forman said people trying to decide where to settle pay more attention to the abundance of jobs, climate and where their family lives than housing costs. "The idea that 20- to 34-year-olds are fleeing because of housing costs is manipulating the affordable housing issue," he said.

    Mr. Forman said old census records showed that Long Island had 144,044 fewer infants to 9-year-olds in 1980 than in it had in 1970. The children born in 1980 have grown up, and by 2000, there were about 130,000 fewer 20 to 34-year-olds on Long Island than there were a decade earlier. It was a demographic shift mirrored across the country, the study said. But while the percentage of young adults dropped to 20 percent from 25 percent nationwide from 1990 to 2003, there was a sharper drop on Long Island, to 17.7 percent from 24 percent.

    Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

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    January 27, 2005

    Vacant Land on Long Island Is Disappearing, Study Warns

    By BRUCE LAMBERT

    A new study warns that Long Island is rapidly running out of the essential ingredient that spawned America's first suburbs there after World War II: vacant land.

    Only a tenth of the island remains to be developed, according to the annual Long Island Index report being issued today. The challenge now, the study said, is rationing the remaining space and redeveloping older properties and communities to address critical problems like high local taxes and the "clear and present crisis" in housing that has priced out the elderly, recent graduates and people with modest incomes.

    "Quite simply, we are running out of space," the report said. "The sprawl that has typified Long Island's development cannot be sustained." The report added that "virtually all our region's most serious problems are either caused or aggravated by sprawl."

    The index, the second annual analysis of issues confronting Long Island, was sponsored by the Rauch Foundation, a nonprofit research and investment organization, in cooperation with government planners, business and labor leaders, educators and other nonprofit groups. The new report focused on land use "because it's the most powerful factor" linking other issues, said the foundation's president, Nancy Rauch Douzinas.

    If made wisely, the report said, decisions about future land use would alleviate the island's most pressing issues: extraordinarily high property taxes, the scarcity and high cost of housing, congestion, traffic problems and inadequate mass transit, and threats to the environment.

    "The ultimate irony of our development is that after 50 years of home building, Long Island's residents today face a dire shortage of housing," the report said. "Home prices continue to skyrocket and new homeowners spend over 40 percent of household income on homeownership costs."

    The median home price on Long Island is $394,000, 4.7 times the median annual household income - and far above the ratio of 2.5 that housing experts recommend for affordability, the report said.

    Polling of 805 residents by the foundation revealed deeply conflicted feelings on housing issues.

    A strong majority recognized the gravity of the housing shortage, with 74 percent calling it an extremely or very serious problem. Seventy-one percent voiced fears that high housing costs would force family members to leave the island, and 64 percent said they themselves had thought about moving away.

    A majority also endorsed solutions that some politicians have long considered taboo, like adding more apartments in older downtown areas near train stations, and requiring developers to make a tenth of any new homes they build moderately priced. A majority also said that they would support the construction of town houses and apartments within a mile of their own homes.

    Yet at the same time, a majority also voiced fears that such measures would diminish suburban life by increasing tax burdens and congestion, reducing the quality of schools and even bringing in "the wrong kind of people."

    Those concerns are understandable, the study's authors said. But they added that proper planning could reassure the public by addressing the potential pitfalls of more development. For instance, zoning rules to limit local populations so schools are not overburdened with students who cost more to educate than the tax revenues derived from the developments where they live.

    "The ambivalence makes a lot of sense, because people have a lot invested," Dr. Douzinas said. She called the support for solutions "a hopeful sign that should give political and community leaders the courage to put a vision out there."

    The report did not recommend any particular solutions, but it did list possibilities like more town houses, government-subsidized housing and legalized apartments in single-family homes, favored by 55 percent of those polled.

    Long Island, comprising Nassau and Suffolk Counties, is the most developed suburb in the New York metropolitan region, the report said. The supply of open land is dwindling fast, with only 67,000 acres remaining to be developed. That number excludes land committed to open-space uses like parks, golf courses and nature preserves.

    From 1980 to 2000, the amount of land devoted to residential use grew to 314,693 acres from 267,238 acres. At the same time, farmland dropped to 35,328 acres from 51,178, and vacant land shrank to 78,270 acres from 138,545, the report said.

    Besides the high cost of homes and apartments, residents bear taxes that "are among the highest in the country," the report said. In 2002, the most recent year with comparable figures, Long Islanders paid an average of $2,445 per person in property taxes. That was more than double the national average of $969 and significantly higher than statewide averages of $1,402 in New York, $1,734 in Connecticut and $1,872 in New Jersey. Long Islanders also pay high sales taxes.

    Better use of the vacant land and redeveloping existing properties, like polluted "brownfields" formerly owned by industries, can provide more jobs and generate revenue to ease tax burdens, the report said.

    In its critique of past poor planning, the report said that housing was often not situated near employment centers, and that expressways and the Long Island Rail Road were geared mainly for commuting to New York City rather than to local employers, where most residents actually work.



    Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

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    There should be debser types of housing being build: I suggest an Apartment house: Basically a 60x50 foot building with 5 floors and has 5 apartment houses each with 3,000 sq feet. This could possibly fit on a regular suburban plot and would look like those fancy suburban homes out in the exoburubs. and there would be a common backyard in the back and there would be a undergroung parking garage there too. This is the devlopment that should replace all those single family homes in Levittown and Suffolk and this would allow for much greater growth in these areas. Imagine fitting 5 times as many people but still having a suburban area.

  14. #14
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    It might not work. In some parts of Long Island they call three-story buildings "highrises."

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by TLOZ Link5
    It might not work. In some parts of Long Island they call three-story buildings "highrises."
    Not to get smart, but in Alabama, soda is called "pop". The fact is that 5 stories is very reasonable and not every place would get zoned like that. What I'm thinking is hving the zoning get lighter as you go out. have like 7-8 story buildings in like everyting west of Huntington/Babylon and maybe have 5-6 between Huntington/babylon and Port Jefferson/Patchtouge and 3-4 past that to Riverhead, then two and single family homes out on the forks. Nothing too bad, right?

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