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Long Island Index’s 10th Annual Report Focuses On LIRR’s Future

The Long Island Index, a project of the Rauch Foundation, has issued its 2013 report, focusing on the future of the Long Island’ss Railroad and how the commuter line could aid the Island’s growth.

The report, titled “How the Long Island Rail Road Could Shape the Next Economy,” was prepared by the Regional Plan Association. The LIRR has been central to the growth and development of Long Island since it was chartered in 1834 and continues to play a crucial role in Long Island’s economy with 25 percent of local income coming from New York City jobs.

While many think of the railroad in terms of its ability to transport commuters between Long Island and New York City, this report highlights how the railroad can play a transformative role for the local economy and can have positive outcomes for all Long Islanders regardless of whether or not they are LIRR riders. It also clarifies that when new rail services are coupled with community revitalization efforts, significant transformations can occur that create new jobs and companies, access to new living spaces and, overall, a more robust local economy. Drawing on the successes of White Plains, N.Y. and South Orange, NJ, the report considers where Long Island might focus for similar growth.

Unlike neighbors in New Jersey and Westchester who have gained significant ridership over the last decade, to date the reach and capacity of the LIRR has remained unchanged since it first connected to Manhattan’s Penn Station in 1910. Now, for the first time in more than a century, the LIRR is poised to provide new capacity on its network. This year’s Long Island Index, is, therefore, focused on illuminating the opportunities and challenges that the LIRR provides, offering unbiased reliable data on which to base a broader public discussion, and encouraging that discussion of how best to maximize public transit’s potential for increasing Long Island’s economic vitality.

With new capacity, the railroad could lead a new era of economic growth for Long Island. By 2019, the East Side Access project will give LIRR riders direct access to Grand Central Terminal and east Midtown Manhattan, the densest concentration of jobs in the country. A second track from Farmingdale to Ronkonkoma could be completed by 2018 and expand service options and reliability on one of the fastest growing yet most overcrowded lines in the system. Beyond these two projects, a deferred and long-debated project – a third track on the LIRR Main Line – has the potential to greatly improve service and support job growth within Nassau and Suffolk Counties.

Among the related findings revealed in the Long Island Index are the following:

· With East Side Access, nearly 400,000 homeowners in Nassau and Suffolk Counties will see the value of their homes rise by an average of $7,300.

· With expansion of the Ronkonkoma line to two tracks and the main line to three tracks, employers will have access to many more potential workers – at least 350,000 in Mineola and 226,000 in Hicksville, for example – increasing the attractiveness of Long Island to prospective employers. In addition, major economic development initiatives, such as Wyandanch Rising, the Ronkonkoma transit village project, and the Republic Airport hub would have a much greater chance of success.

· With expansion of the main line to three tracks, service reliability, efficiency and flexibility would be greatly improved, with 50 percent more capacity on the main line to reroute trains, move trains more easily between yards and stations, and add service as needed.

· With all three projects, Long Island’s economy would be in a much stronger position for future growth with faster access to jobs in New York City and greater ease of bringing New York City employees to new jobs on Long Island.

Projects of this magnitude necessarily come with costs and challenges.

The combined construction cost of the three projects is over $10 billion. East Side Access, with a cost of over $8 billion, represents the lion’s share of the capital costs. For East Side Access, the challenge is to complete the remaining construction, which includes the most complicated part of the project, on schedule. Local communities and the LIRR will also need to plan for changes in parking needs and traffic patterns.

“The Long Island Rail Road is one of Long Island’s most important and least understood regional assets,” said Nancy Rauch Douzinas, president of the Rauch Foundation. “The 2013 Long Island Index presents many of the facts that highlight the railroad’s potential, and it provides a guide to an important, open, and transparent discussion of the role of public transit in Long Island’s economy and future.”

For a full copy of the 2013 Long Island Index, visit www.longisland index.org. For further information, contact Brooke Botsford at Goodman Media International: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

News

“Visitation is up 300 percent,” said Harriet Gerard Clark, Raynham Hall Museum director.

“Two-thirds of them come because of reading the book by Brian Kilmeade, George Washington’s Secret Six: The Spy Ring That Saved The American Revolution, and seeing the series ‘Turn’ on A&E,” added Tom Valentine, docent, who keeps the list of visitors. Soon the series will include the story of Robert Townsend of Oyster Bay who was known as Culper, Jr. when he was a spy for George Washington.

Alex Sutherland, director of education, nailed his definition. “He was the most important spy for George Washington because he had the perfect cover. He was pretending to be a Loyalist and writing for a Loyalist newspaper and befriending British officers at his coffee shop in downtown New York while secretly collecting information.

As a fitness coach and a mother, Melissa Monteforte of Locust Valley knows how important it is to stay healthy, and how difficult it can be for women to make themselves, and their health, a priority. Wanting to help women take charge and feel more in control, she organized the Fit & Healthy Mamas Annual 5K run, now in its third year, which will take place on Saturday, Sept. 13 from 8:30 a.m. to noon at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow.

“I felt like running was the best outlet when I became a mother; it’s such a great way to get fit and feel healthy and I wanted to share that with other moms,” says Monteforte, 31. “I wanted women to feel celebrated, no matter their fitness level, and to put their health first.”


Sports

Hard work paid off for local athletes Christine Grippo of Locust Valley, Kelly Pickard of Oyster Bay, Bernadette Winnubst of Locust Valley, Steven Quigley of Bayville, Catherine Soler of Oyster Bay, Maria Elinger of Oyster Bay, and Armand D’Amato of Oyster Bay Cove, each of whom won awards in a field of some of the best triathletes from all of Long Island and beyond in the 27th annual Runner’s Edge - Town of Oyster Bay Triathlon, held in and around Oyster Bay’s Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park on Saturday morning, Aug. 23.

Grippo earned top honors in the women’s 30-34 age group with a time of 1 hour, 17 minutes, 36 seconds. Pickard (1:17:39) scored first among the women in the 35-39 age group. Winnubst scored in 1:38:48 to earn third place honors in the Masters Athena Weight Division. Quigley earned the second place award in the Masters Clydesdale Weight Division in 1:23:23. Soler (1:29:12) scored 5th among the women in the 20-24 age group. Ehlinger (1:39:23) was the 4th place award winner in the women’s 55-59 age group. D’Amato (1:42:44) earned top honors in the 70-74 age group.

Ice Dreams, an Olympic Ice Show starring 2014 Olympic Bronze Medalist Jason Brown and aspiring local skaters, is coming to Twin Rinks Ice Center at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow on Sept. 20.

Isabella Skvarla, 13, Julia Tauter, 12, and Chiara Vlacich, 12, all of Oyster Bay, Julia Forte, 12, of Locust Valley and Riley Stein, 11, of Bayville will be skating in the world class show to celebrate the opening of the best figure skating facility Long Island has ever seen.


Calendar

Art In A Meadow

Saturday, Sept. 13

Bayville Oktoberfest

Saturday, Sept. 13 - Sunday, Sept. 14

Hurricane Preparedness

Tuesday, Sept. 16



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
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Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
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