September 19, 2017

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LICA Breakfast Shines a Light on Infrastructure

Nearly 200 members and guests including business leaders, industry executives, labor representatives and elected officials, joined LICA for their annual Bi-County Infrastructure Breakfast this past Friday at The Mansion at Oyster Bay in Woodbury, NY.

Headlined by keynote speaker Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim, MTA Managing Director, the event was also highlighted by the first joint appearance of two leading party candidates for the office of Nassau County Executive – Legislator Laura Curran (D) and former Senator Jack Martins (R).

Opening remarks by LICA Executive Director Marc Herbst focused on the importance of infrastructure investment, recalling not-too-distant memories of “dark” times when infrastructure was neglected, overlooked and underfunded, or when it sustained critical damage from natural disasters like Superstorm Sandy. But with a new five-year capital plan in place and some crucial projects now moving forward, such as the LIRR Second Track and Third Track, he believes there is light at the end of the tunnel. With continued support from our elected officials and a mantra of “I think I can, I think I can,” Herbst believes the future can be brighter. With that in mind, LICA then presented local politicians with a replica railroad lantern and a copy of the classic childhood story The Little Engine That Could.

Following the pledge of allegiance, led by Legislator Tom Cilmi (LICA’s 2017 PAC Honoree) and a warm introduction with high praise by Senator John Flanagan, MTA Managing Director Ronnie Hakim took the stage. She noted how she could relate to Herbst’s comments about darker times with the very recent “summer of hell” having just ended. Hakim spoke of how the MTA experienced a “spring of anxiety” leading up to this summer, working to map out plans to minimize weeks of disruption to the main line of the LIRR for critical repairs. But they too have seen the light. Due to the MTA’s massive efforts and months of coordinated planning, the dreaded “summer of hell” was merely a brief “interlude of inconvenience” for most. Hakim noted the importance of a comprehensive communication plan (key to keeping riders informed), maximizing individual’s efforts to make alternative plans and minimizing rider’s unrest that normally rises with unexpected delays or cancellations.

Hakim recognizes that the “Success of the entire region is deeply connected to and depends on the success of Long Island’s economy…” and spoke of the 100+ LIRR projects now happening on Long Island as part of a $3 billion investment. She said that the MTA is committed to providing the service we need and expect, and will continue to invest in the system’s infrastructure, while noting that “We need loud voices supporting that investment today.”

While acknowledging that there is still more work to do, Hakim and the MTA seem to have the all-important “I think I can, I think I can” attitude and are challenging themselves to continue providing enhanced communication and improved performance to the public. For LIBN’s coverage of Hakim’s speech, click here.

Following our Keynote, LICA was pleased to present the two leading candidates for the office of Nassau County Executive. Together for the first time since Curran won the Democratic primary (by nearly 80%), LICA asked both Curran (D) and Martins (R) to present their vision for Nassau County and express their position on infrastructure investment.

breakfast-2.pngCurran, who currently serves as a Nassau County Legislator for District 5 said she believes “we’re lacking vision here in Nassau County, a vision of how we grow, a vision of how we do true economic development.” She noted that our County Charter mandates that we have a 5-year master plan and said that hasn’t happened in about 10 years. She also expressed the need to engage communities early on, especially with controversial projects such as the LIRR Third Track. Curran believes the Governor did a very good job of doing this, which resulted in this second round of track expansion getting approved.

Addressing some specific industry issues, Curran stated, “We have to restore trust with contractors to get paid for the work you do,” referencing current payment problems which many have been experiencing with the County. She went on to say that, “Something I will do as County Executive is make sure we have a master resiliency plan. This plan would guide us, take more preventative measures, make sure we can withstand storms,” adding, “Let's improve roads, let's improve our bridges, so flooding and winds don’t cause damage that we’re all familiar with and, of course, it will save money in the long run.”

Taking the floor next was former Senator Jack Martins who began by stating, “It is our responsibility to reinvest in our infrastructure. Infrastructure is the backbone of our economy. Our ability not only to invest in infrastructure and make the commitment to have infrastructure sets the tone not only for now, but for the future.” He noted that the next County Executive will have to make significant decisions regarding investment and infrastructure, recognizing that the state and federal governments also play a part but says that “we, ourselves have to make a commitment to put the best interest of our country ahead of the politics and our own parties.”

Martins spoke of Nassau County’s many financial problems including how “for the past 20 years that we have lived under an oversight board appointed by Albany.” He went on to say that “A budget isn’t about numbers, it’s about priorities. It’s about understanding we need to make commitments to people and we have to see those commitments through.” Martins' experience in Albany, in setting priorities, making commitments and bringing those commitments home to the Long Island region means he understands the challenges we face here in Nassau County. He would refuse to allow partisan bickering to stand in our way of progress and has the commitment to build our county, invest in infrastructure and “put our guys to work.”

For Newsday’s coverage of the candidate’s presentations, click here.

LICA would again like to thank this year’s breakfast sponsors for their continued support including: Bridge Sponsors – 110 Sand Company; Edward Ehrbar, Inc.; Grace Industries/Haugland Energy; Posillico; LECET/LIUNA/Local 1298; and Teamsters Local 282, as well as our Highway Sponsors: CFMA-Long Island Chapter, Greenman-Pedersen, Inc. and IUOE Local 138.

 

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(L to R seated: Assemblywoman Christine Pelligrino; Assemblyman David McDonough; Assemblyman Anthony D'Urso; former Senator Jack Martins; Senator Tom Croci, LICA Executive Director Marc Herbst; Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan; Senator John Brooks; Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci; Assemblywoman Kimberly Jean-Pierre; Assemblyman Ed Ra; Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages;  L to R standing: Assemblyman Thomas McKevitt, Huntington Town Councilwoman Tracey Edwards; Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter; Suffolk County Legislator Tom Cilmi; Suffolk County Legislator Kevin McCaffrey; Nassau County Legislator Laura Curran; Suffolk County Legislator Robert Trotta; North Hempstead Town Clerk Wayne Wink; Nassau County Legislator Vincent Muscarella; Oyster Bay Town Councilman Anthony Macagnone.)

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