Written by Senator Jack Martins Thursday, 17 April 2014 00:00
I think it was sometime after our tenth snowstorm that some of the most die-hard New Yorkers I know said Florida wasn’t looking too bad. Truth be told, when people leave the Empire State, it’s not in search of better weather, it’s mostly in search of a better life.
Did you know that from 2000 to 2010 New York lost more than 1.6 million residents to other states? They left because life here was just too expensive. Whether it’s seniors on fixed incomes, young people just starting out or fed up couples in between, they started to feel that life elsewhere would be easier. That’s bad for our economy and worse for the families and friends impacted by separation.
Our friends and neighbors are not leaving their childhood homes, the communities they helped build, because they want to; they’re leaving because they need to. That’s the unfortunate truth — New Yorkers have historically been chased away by high costs and taxes.
Like many of you, I grew up a tight-knit Long Island community and I’m now lucky enough to raise my own kids in that very same neighborhood. But it troubles me to think they might not be able to do the same. We have to find ways to make our communities affordable for young adults, our children, who want to stay, but can’t make ends meet.
As I was recently appointed Chair of the Senate’s Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business Committee, I’m now in a position to help shape policies that keep New Yorkers in New York. And as I also Chair the Senate’s Committee on Local Government,
I’m in a great position to advance ideas that I know work — downtown revitalization, transit-oriented development, next generation and senior housing. As the former Mayor of Mineola for eight years, I had first-hand experience with these successful revitalization efforts that I know can be replicated throughout Long Island and our state.
I brought together community and business leaders and developed a comprehensive master plan for our village downtown that was built on consensus. It introduced “smart growth” concepts that converted a decaying industrial railroad corridor into a pedestrian-friendly downtown complete with housing and public amenities that improved the quality of life.
Mineola’s rebound was soon applauded by organizations like the Regional Plan Association, Vision Long Island and the Rauch Foundation’s Long Island Index which even recognized Mineola as one of “the premier smart growth communities in the nation.”
As a small business owner myself, I knew that we had to get government out of the way so the private sector could crank the engine and get jobs and new homes to follow. So we ended the borrow and spend policies that had our village on the edge of a precipice and focused on redeveloping our downtown. When builders saw the rebound, they naturally wanted in too. They started building more affordable housing and even agreed to fund park and streetscape improvements which further enhanced the desirability of our communities. New York is now ready for its own rebound and I’m happy to help pave the way.