Written by Thomas R. Suozzi Friday, 07 August 2009 00:00
On July 22, I 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. Some of these young adults currently reside in Nassau, and some have moved away, to places nearby like New York City, and even as far as Switzerland. It was a great opportunity for all of us to discuss Nassau County’s future and how to attract young professionals like themselves to Nassau.
Many in attendance shared their experiences of difficulty finding affordable housing in Nassau County, and many said they still live at home with their parents.
I have advocated the idea of remodeling our current downtown areas into “Cool Downtowns.” Cool Downtowns would be located near a train station and other public transportation centers. They also have multistoried buildings with people living and working in rental apartments, restaurants, and shops. Examples of downtowns that are already “cool” are Great Neck, Long Beach, Rockville Centre, and Garden City. Young people are often discouraged from buying houses or apartments in residential areas because they are surrounded by families, and not other young people. They also can’t afford the housing currently available to them.
For Nassau County to be sustainable for the next generation we must attract young professionals who are not relocating back to Long Island. Manhattan and Brooklyn are unaffordable – they are downright expensive, but young people are moving there and other urban areas in droves. A diverse choice of housing options and exciting downtown environments are attracting them, and it’s our plan to attract them back here to Nassau County. Why not? We have great schools, low crime, low unemployment, beautiful parks, North Shore waterfront and South Shore ocean beaches – and all within a stone’s throw of New York City!
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. Through dialogue, like the one we created at our forum, we can all share ideas and make Nassau County “home” once again for this “Next Generation.”