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Islanders Want a Piece of the 'Smart Growth' Action

December 21, 2007

Bethpage, NY - Imagine a Long Island where jobs, schools, parks and shopping are all within walking distance, with clean air and streets clear of traffic jams. That's the vision of those who are urging Gov. Eliot Spitzer to include Long Island in his "Smart Growth" initiative.

The program, meant to reduce urban sprawl, already has been approved for the Hudson Valley, Catskills and Adirondack regions, but State Sen. Carl Marcellino says Islanders should be included, too.

"'Smart Growth' certainly would be welcome here. And we should have been part of that initiative. The disappointment is that the Governor seems to think that Long Island is rich and is not in need of these kinds of initiatives. We are!"

Marcellino says a "Smart Island" strategy would attract business, lower taxes and stop the brain drain of youth leaving for greener pastures.

Sarah Lansdale with Sustainable Long Island agrees. She says that for the Island, "Smart Growth" is a "no-brainer" for balancing environmental health and economic development.

"The quality of life is eroding because of high taxes and traffic congestion. 'Smart Growth' policies promoting walkable communities, downtown revitalization and the re-use of brownfields would ultimately reduce taxes and improve the quality of life for all Long Islanders."

Lansdale stresses that "Smart Growth" would improve community health, especially on the Island where residents drink local ground water, which would become less polluted. And she says it would make a world of difference for family life.

"They would have a better day with the kids, having more choices for parks and recreation. A shorter commute time, grocery stores closer to their homes. There'd be more housing choices. There could be a mix of people, and a healthier environment."

The Governor's office has not yet responded to the idea of adding Long Island to the initiative.

Robert Knight/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - NY