Amid the doldrums of the COVID-19 pandemic, HIA-LI members have good reason to pat themselves on the back this year.
Why? Because our organization’s members played a central role in advocating for a public policy victory that will serve, according to Newsday, as a “building block for our region’s future.”
That victory occurred in August, when the Smithtown Town Board voted unanimously to greenlight a “zoning overlay” allowing mixed-used development at the 1,650-acre Long Island Innovation Park in Hauppauge (LI-IPH), formerly known as Hauppauge Industrial Park. The idea for a “zoning overlay” had arisen from a 160-page strategic analysis issued in April 2019. The analysis, commissioned by HIA-LI in cooperation with the Suffolk IDA and others, had enumerated ways to strengthen the Park’s future.
The Town’s decision came in the aftermath of an organized campaign – undertaken by HIA-LI members and many others – to help educate Board members regarding the merits of the change.
Thanks to new development opportunities made possible through the revised zoning rules, one of Long Island’s most respected real estate developers, TRITEC of East Setauket, stepped forward in November and proposed to build a $125-million, mixed-use building with 335 apartments in the Park. The venue would be a development parcel at 49 Wireless Boulevard that TRITEC owns through a subsidiary. The “zoning overlay” opens the door for similar mixed-use projects at twelve other Park sites.
Long Island municipalities like the Town of Smithtown are recognizing the need to take bold steps to promote regional economic development and to help stem the hemorrhaging of young workers from Nassau and Suffolk.
The Town – under the leadership of Supervisor Ed Wehrheim – understands that mixed-use development like this represents a “building block” for creating a better tomorrow for our area. Such measures boost our economic competitiveness by supporting workforce attraction and retention. In July 2019, a Rauch Foundation survey conducted for Newsday found that 67 percent of Long Islanders aged 18 to 34 years planned to leave the region within five years.
Can you imagine? Such an exodus would seriously disable the Long Island economy and make it highly difficult for Park employers to hire and keep a skilled workforce.
In a November 29 editorial, Newsday called the new Smithtown policy “a prime example of what’s possible” when Long Island municipalities act creatively to re-envision our region’s future.
So, bravo to the members of HIA-LI for helping to create a new model for fortifying Long Island’s long-term competitiveness. And a special thanks to our LI-IPH Task Force, headed by HIA-LI Board Chair Joe Campolo, Managing Partner at Campolo, Middleton & McCormick, LLP.
Read the complete Newsday editorial here.