Partnership in the News: Railroad towns aim to spur economic growth through federal grant

The Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) is a commuter rail system that services the entire length of Long Island, New York from Manhattan to the tip of Suffolk County. With 124 stations and over 700 miles of track it is the second busiest passenger rail service in the nation, serving approximately 81 million people per year.

Earlier this year, HUD awarded the New York & Connecticut Sustainable Communities Consortium (NYCSCC) a $3.5 million regional planning grant, which the group hopes to use to, “develop livable communities and growth centers around the region’s commuter rail network to enhance affordable housing efforts, reduce congestion, improve the environment and continue to expand economic opportunities”.

NYCSCC will help fund 16 interrelated projects across the region., including awarding Nassau County $350,000 to “conduct an Infill Redevelopment Feasibility Study for properties within a half-mile radius of up to three existing Long Island Railroad stations located within and surrounding the Nassau Hub Transit Study Area”. The towns of Baldwin, Lynbrook and Valley Stream were selected to receive a portion of these grant funds because of their desire to rethink land use patterns, foster transit oriented development, reduce auto dependence, lower their carbon footprint, and expand their population and tax base.


Smart growth awards honor projects helping strengthen Long Island's downtowns

Downtown Huntington, Long Island. Photo by Smart Growth America.

This past Friday, several hundred people – including elected officials, developers, bankers, preachers, business executives – gathered in Melville, NY for Vision Long Island‘s annual smart growth awards luncheon. Vision Long Island, an ally of Smart Growth America, confers the awards to plans and projects using smart growth strategies to strengthen Long Island’s unique collection of downtowns.

Although Long Island grew quickly after World War II as an archetypal auto-oriented suburb, it still has dozens of small downtowns from the prewar era, each with a commuter rail station nearby. And while plenty areas on Long Island have prospered, many have struggled. For every Brooklyn neighborhood that has seen a spectacular revival, there’s a village in Nassau County that is struggling with population loss and a faltering downtown.