By Tracey Simon, a local librarian from Oceanside, NY.
While it’s too late to bring back a generation lost to poor planning, indifference, and NIMBY-ism, we have a chance to create new neighborhoods, or reorganize older ones. These can be walkable, sustainable, livable places where young people want to be and can afford and where seniors can age in place near everything they need.
Racism is still a major issue on Long Island. It seems like the most self-segregated place in the country. Fortunately, I think our children have rejected the attitude of their grandparents (and parents) since many have left to go to more diverse neighborhoods. Corruption is also a turn-off. It’s going to take at least a decade or more of good governance to undo the financial waste and damage done by previous local politicians.
There is little here on Long Island for anyone between the ages of 15 and 30 to do with their leisure time, or at least nothing you can reach unless you have a car. That includes going to a park, a community center, shopping, an entertainment venue, or a friend’s house.
Any future plan should include reliable, reasonable, public transportation, be it buses, trolleys, or light rail. One look at Old Country Road in Nassau will paint the picture for you – tons of retail connected by nothing but one road. Even if you take a bus to Roosevelt Field, if you wanted to go to any other retail area, walking is impractical. Roads should be made more bicycle-friendly. Even with bike lanes, drivers feel that cyclists are the enemy and vice versa!
Since malls, and now online shopping, have killed local businesses, we should stop building strip malls and focus on creating and encouraging places that enhance quality of life. Make parks, open cafes, learning centers, etc.
Forget about 55+ communities for the well-to-do. Make multi-generational communities instead, with perhaps the seniors centrally located closer to shopping, the club house, or whatever the hub of activity is. It would go a long way for young people to feel empathy towards older people, and make older people more hopeful and accepting of young families.
There is definitely a growing interest on Long Island, and we need to harness that.