Sustainability Summit at Vision Long Island
Kudos to Eric Alexander and his team at Vision Long Island for the tenth annual Sustainability Summit Friday. While they always do a really good job with format, speakers, and content, this year was special for CNU with John Norquist serving as the keynote speaker. Not to overshadow the significance of Senator Charles Schumer, who had a lot of nice things to say about his continuing efforts to fight the good fight, John Norquist was brilliant at bringing the key issues to the floor with clarity and simplicity. It is easy to make the problems that we are confronting with land use, sustainability, and 50+ years of stupid decisions seem very complicated.
John was effective in bringing the focus to very straight forward problems with very direct solutions. He recounted his efforts as Mayor of Milwaukee to streamline the approval processes coupled with creating predictability for what will get approved, which was a great approach for the room of 1,000 containing a disproportionately high percentage of politicians, regulators, and developers. Instead of playing to the design professionals in the room, John understood and addressed that the need is to get the people making both the proposals and the decisions to wake up to what works and how to get it done.
There were a number of CNU New York members in attendance, with several serving as moderators, panelists and speakers. CNU New York had a booth at the event, at which we handed out copies of the Charter, while encouraging everyone within earshot to take advantage of the new Advocate level of membership to get more involved. CNU New York also shared a table at lunch with ADL III Architecture and Alex Latham was one of the better moderators leading his panel through a discussion of "Beyond NIMBY: The Community as a Partner". Tom Brown made an excellent presentation on parking concepts in the session on "Downtown Revitalization: Strategies for NYS & LI". Personally, I think an expanded version of his presentation, coupled with perhaps a developer and municipal representative engaged in the revitalization of a major downtown would make a great event.
I had a great talk with Peter Fleischer, who reiterated his enthusiasm for CNU New York putting something together that could help promote his efforts at Empire State Future. I also made several new best friends. Jennifer Cribbs is a Management Analyst for HUD Region II, who didn't have first hand knowledge of exactly what CNU does, but who has now agreed to get informed and involved. She asked me to provide her with contact that will help bring her up to speed. She was excited by my description of CNU New York being willing to help promote the new sustainability requirements, specifically the new infrastructure laws, as they pertain to the relationship between HUD, EPA, and the DOT, to which John Norquist also noted the Department of Agriculture has now been added. I introduced her to Peter Fleischer and left them alone to build a relationship.
Other new best friends are Robert Dadras and Victor Dadras, who spoke representing the NYS Urban Council and NY Main Street Alliance. They have a two day event every year, which has always taken place upstate. They would like the next one to be downstate and would love to do it in Westchester. I introduced them both to Larry Gould and to Marc Wooters, and we all had a wonderful conversation about a joint event this coming Spring in Westchester or Hudson Valley, which could be co-sponsored by CNU New York. I also brought Bill Tuyn into the mix and we all agreed that this could be one of our stepping stones to Buffalo: Westchester in the Spring and Chatauqua in the Fall. Maybe we can plan something around Albany during the Summer. Bill was on the panel "Financing Smart Growth", which I understand was also very good.
In all, it was a very productive event and reinforces the need for us at CNU New York to be making both our presence and our presents better known. The idea that people in decision making roles are going to seek us out and ask us to get involved has not proved effective. We need to demonstrate our value through extending ourselves to the other organizations working on these issues and volunteering to participate as helpful hands to them. Thank you again to Eric for making it so easy for us to be involved in this year's Summit. My recommendation is for everyone to get it on their calendars for next year. If anyone would like more details, let me know.
Paddy Steinschneider is President of Gotham Design & Community Development Ltd., an architectural design firm located in Dobbs Ferry, New York. He is a member of the board of directors of CNU New York.