Councils offer hope for economic vitality

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We have national-award-winning medical teaching institutions, such as Winthrop-University Hospital, North Shore University Hospital LIJ, Nassau University Medical Center and Stony Brook University Hospital, as well as South Nassau Communities Hospital, Long Beach Medical Center and Mercy Hospital. And we have equally strong credentials in engineering and other fields. We have some of the highest-performing public school students in the state, and private schools that rival the best in the nation.

Long Island has the resources and the potential to provide the jobs that will keep our best and brightest here and attract the best from other parts of the country and the world. We have the talent, training, organizations, quality of life, secure environment, educational excellence, development experience and engineering know-how to make economic growth a reality.

A cautionary note: While these regional economic councils may have the authority to imagine and encourage — and even help plan — development and cut through Albany’s bureaucracy, we wonder if they will have the force, fortitude and legal muscle to navigate the no less formidable hazards erected by the Nassau and Suffolk county legislatures and planning and zoning boards. And then there are the towns and villages. What power will these councils have over the political potentates who rule in fiefdoms like Hempstead, North Hempstead and Oyster Bay, or Suffolk’s Brookhaven, Riverhead and Huntington?

We hope the councils can focus on their mission, and that they are imbued by law with the power to tamp down political influence that too often kills grand ideas and, by default, encourages strip malls.

Remember, it wasn’t Albany that snuffed out Nassau’s Lighthouse project, but the Town of Hempstead. And many believe the town acted intelligently, rejecting the oversized Lighthouse plan for good environmental and neighborhood-scale reasons.

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