Friday, 31 July 2009 00:00
Nassau County Executive Thomas R. Suozzi held a forum with Nassau’s “Next Generation” of current and former residents between the ages of 20-35 to discuss the county’s future. Suozzi listened to the concerns of nearly 200 young professionals who enjoy living in Nassau County but are finding it difficult to stay or move here. Many grew up in Nassau County and either moved away or still live with their parents.
“Young people are leaving Nassau County in droves, and we want to find out why. We want to know what it would take for these young professionals to stay in Nassau County, because it is a great place to live. We have great schools, great healthcare, low crime, low unemployment, open spaces and parks, north shore waterfronts and south shore ocean beaches, and we are a stone’s throw from New York City,” said County Executive Suozzi. “But we grew so much in the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s and that population has aged out and we need to make the county more attractive to young people.”
Those attending the forum participated in roundtable discussions about what they would like to see in Nassau County, and shared their concerns and ideas with the county executive. The main concern among the participants was finding affordable housing in Nassau County, as many of them said they still live at home with their parents. Suozzi explained that the “Cool Downtowns” initiative would address the problem of affordable housing. A Cool Downtown is located near a train station and other public transportation and has multistoried buildings with people living and working in rental apartments, restaurants, and shops. Examples of downtowns that are already “cool” are located near a train station. Great Neck, Long Beach, Rockville Centre, and Garden City were cited as examples of places that currently have these downtowns.
“A Cool Downtown would be the ideal place for a young professional to live. They could walk to local stores, and eat in local restaurants and wouldn’t have to use a car to get around. They would also be close to the train, with easy access to New York City and other places on Long Island. Right now, if you’re 20 to 30 years old, you’re not moving to Nassau County. You can’t find an apartment to rent, and you’re not going to buy a house in a community like Levittown, because the neighborhoods are full of families. It’s not going to be any fun. Cool Downtowns would change that.”
Suozzi also discussed Nassau County’s Master Plan, which addresses Nassau’s challenges of traffic congestion, high property taxes, and pockets of poverty. It provides guidance on how Nassau can become a national model for smart, environmentally responsible new suburban development as we move forward for the next 25 years.
“For Nassau County to be sustainable into the next generation and beyond, we must attract young college graduates and businesses to locate here. We need to create ‘cool downtowns’ in Nassau where commercial areas are located near transportation centers and where housing, mixed-use structures and local amenities can be sited to support walkable communities.”