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Wednesday, August 20, 2014
A new vision for Freeport
by Laura Schofer

Wanted – creative and innovative ideas that will marry economic development with growth and sustainability for Freeport.

“Now is the time for creating a new vision for our communities,” said Jamie Rubin, director of the New York Rising Storm Recovery program.“What kind of legacy do we want to leave behind? How do we respond in the aftermath of disaster? What choices do we make when we build back?”

These were the questions that panelists addressed at a forum on rebuilding and resilience after superstorm Sandy, as part of the 2013 Smart Growth Summit sponsored by Vision Long Island last month. Vision Long Island is an organization that works to promote economically sustainable and environmentally responsible growth on Long Island by actively involving local stakeholders in planning. John O’Connell, executive editor of the Herald newspapers, was the panel moderator.

Mr. Rubin urged attendees to consider that “real money is behind the rebuilding,” he said. In addition to the money allotted to each community through the New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program, there is $500 million in Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funds available and “private equity that might add up to a billion dollars.”

And while some communities are addressing issues that are hyper-local, such as moving the village’s Department of Public Works out of the Industrial Park, many of the issues are regional.

“Certain themes have emerged,” said Mr. Rubin including “storm water drainage, emergency response, protection of waterfronts and the shoreline, updating the electric grid, green infrastructure solutions and flexible, permeable spaces,” said Mr. Rubin.

According to Paul Beyer, state director of Smart Growth Planning at the New York State Department of State, communities are also looking at housing topology and street scaping. The book “Suburban Nation” by Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk and Jeff Speck, a manifesto that proposes an alternative model for community design, has “kicked off the smart growth movement which can help us rebuild after Sandy,” he explained.

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