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Nassau Hub
Citizens Advisory Committee

The Nassau Hub Citizens Advisory Committee is made up of 48 civic associations, chambers of commerce, community organizations, and environmental groups, as well as several individual residents. The Citizens Advisory Committee was formed to fight for community input on the planning process for the Nassau Hub. Citizen activists have been critical of the closed nature of the planning process for the Nassau Hub. The Hub Citizens Advisory Committee is primarily concerned with ensuing that the development proposed for the Hub does not increase traffic congestion in central Nassau, or conflict with efforts to revitalize downtown business districts.


Meeting -- Tuesday, February 12, 2002

The Nassau Hub Citizens Advisory Committee met on Tuesday, February 12, 2002, at the Hofstra University Club.

The meeting was well attended. Approximately 80 community leaders participated including County Legislator David Dennenberg, Hempstead Town Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby, representatives of the Town of Hempstead Planning Department, and representatives from Congresswoman McCarthy's office.

At the meeting, guest speaker Richard Hall of Hall Engineering (Florida) provided a presentation on the topic of remaking suburban corridors, and how smart growth principles can be applied to the Hub. Mr. Hall is a nationally recognized transportation engineer who is a leader in the emerging field of commercial corridor revitalization and smart growth.

During the meeting, the Hub CAC reviewed proposals for how to move forward in regards to development and environmental issues regarding the Nassau Hub area. Proposed next steps were organized into the following five (5) areas.

Sub-committees Formed

At the meeting, the group approved a motion to form new sub-committees to work on the issues of:

  1. Transit (12 members signed up)

  2. Land Use/Rental Housing (13 members signed up, March 27th tentative meeting date)

  3. Environmental Trust Fund (11 members signed up).

Each sub-committee will prepare a report for the full CAC. If you are interested in participating in one of the sub-committee meeting, call Jean at 516-541-4321.

Next Steps

1) Transit Options--Evaluating new public transit options (driving the long-awaited MIS process). Call for MIS to be performed in a community visioning "charrette" format, and pushing the MIS to consider innovative solutions to broader transportation problems. Immediate next steps: review latest information on new light rail and automated transit technologies; review maps of possible transit lines for Nassau; and form working group to visit New Jersey public transit systems before making recommendations.

2) Land Use--Review, and where appropriate critique, development proposals under consideration or expected soon. Encourage proposals that will: reduce vehicle trips, encourage pedestrian friendly development, create mixed use centers, and other forms of environmentally friendly development. Immediate next steps: proposals for sub-committee work in this area may be shaped by the presentation of our guest speaker, Rick Hall.

3) Affordable/Rental Housing--Analyze where affordable and rental housing can fit into mixed use centers in and around the Hub. Immediate next steps: Form a working group to evaluate five different approaches to affordable housing which have been identified by regional housing advocates--for their applicability to different sites in the Hub; prepare recommendations.

4) Innovative Planning Outreach--Contact experts from around the country who have succeeded in implementing innovative "smart-growth" development projects and transportation systems in suburban communities; consider whether successful projects from other parts of the country can be looked to as model as how to proceed in Nassau. Immediate next steps: at this stage a sub-committee is probably not necessary, efforts have already begun to reach out to planning experts and identify models of "smart growth" development.

5) Reinventing Town and County Planning--Nassau County and the Town of Hempstead need to embrace community-based planning. We must foster move innovative thinking in both the county and town planning departments by encouraging government officials to enhance the capacity of planning departments by providing training for personnel, to work more closely with the community and stakeholders in developing plans, and implement recommendations designed to bring about smart growth proposals. In New York State, Onondaga County adopted plans to promote mixed-use development; Dutchess county adopted planes to protect environmental resources including greenways; and Suffolk County has adopted a Smart Growth Policy Plan, and appointed a smart growth task force. Many ideas in this regard may be drawn from recommendations adopted by the New York State Smart Growth Working Group, at their conference in 2000. Immediate next steps: request meetings with town and county officials; form ad hoc groups for delegation visits to urge a restructuring of planning departments.

Background

Several years ago, a private committee of political appointees--without any input from the community--prepared what was called the Hub Study. This report renamed part of central Nassau as the "Nassau Hub" and proceed to propose significant new development. To respond to the traffic congestion problems likely to be exacerbated by the new development, and prepare for anticipated opposition from chambers of commerce and community and environmental groups, the Study proposed some kind of a limited, light-rail loop. Based largely upon the Hub Study, Congress approved funding for a Major Transportation Investment Study (MIS). The MIS would look to using federal money to invest in new rail transit. The money for this MIS is being held, but the MIS has not begun.

The Nassau Hub Citizens Advisory Committee was formed by civic, environmental, and community leaders who are concerned about overdevelopment, and were outraged that the community was shut out of the original planning for the Hub. The Hub CAC, after many meetings, made recommendations to urge that the goal of the MIS be broadened to include traffic congestion issues as they confront a larger part of Nassau, and to call for a moratorium on all large developments in central Nassau until a comprehensive plan is developed with community input. As its last work product, the Hub CAC proposed that New York State provide funding for a major community visioning process (or charrette), that would develop proposals and set-the-stage for the MIS. The effort to get State funding first looked promising, but as Albany became deadlocked over financial issues, most budget items were never addressed as they adopted what was called a "bare-bones budget." It was assumed that budget issues would again be addressed at a later date, but after the September 11th attacks, everything has changed in Albany and no hope now exists for any new project funding.

Now the focus returns to the county and town level, as we continue to urge that planning decisions be made with extensive community involvement, and that new thinking be embraced to address seemingly intractable problems resulting from suburban sprawl. Information has been sent to the administration of the new county executive; urging that they embrace the Hub CAC recommendations, particularly as it applies to involving the community in the planning process.

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