(Hauppauge, NY-January 11, 2013) County Executive Steve Bellone discussed his efforts to create local jobs and improve government efficiency when he addressed more than 800 business representatives and elected officials at the Long Island Association’s annual State of the Counties Report Breakfast. Bellone and Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano served as the key presenters at the event.
Bellone highlighted the positive relationship which has developed with the Suffolk County legislature and the executive branch of government, a relationship that was nonexistent over the past several years. This improved relationship has led to government working for the residents of Suffolk County in a unified manner and focused on actually solving problems including reducing the size of county government by more than 700 positions since Bellone took office. Suffolk County’s improved relationship with the State has also provided Suffolk County residents with one of the most successful State agendas to date.
From day one, County Executive Bellone’s priority has been to grow Suffolk County’s economy. “Young people are leaving the Long Island region at record rates,” said County Executive Bellone. “We have a lack of quality affordable housing, a lack of high paying jobs, and high volume of traffic on our roadways. The only way to combat these problems is to create sustainable long-term economic growth.”
Bellone highlighted Connect Long Island as the answer to creating sustainable growth in Suffolk County. Connect Long Island is a comprehensive regional transportation and development plan that compliments Suffolk County’s assets: world-class educational and research facilities and major infrastructure improvements in the pipeline including the Long Island Railroad’s Double Track Project. He emphasized the need to create a transportation infrastructure that connects these assets with vibrant downtown developments, improved North-South transit connections and innovation zones designed to attract, retain and grow clusters of businesses around existing and enhanced transportation corridors, research institutions and municipal land.
Among the North-South mass transit connections, Bellone’s plan calls for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). BRT is an innovative, high capacity, public transit solution that can significantly improve mobility as an extension of the LIRR service. There is currently a study underway analyzing BRT along the Route 110 corridor, which is home to 135,000 jobs. In the future BRT lanes on the Sagtikos Parkway can provide a connection to the Deer Park Train Station, the Heartland Development, Kings Park Train Station and existing downtowns. A BRT lane along Nicolls Road would provide a connection to Stony Brook University, Suffolk County Community College’s Selden campus and Patchogue Village.
Bellone also called for improving mass transit by expanding electrification of the LIRR to Stony Brook University, Patchogue Village and to Brookhaven National Laboratory at the Yaphank station.
However, Bellone cautioned that in order for Suffolk County to experience true economic growth the procedural hurdles that exist for businesses must be streamlined and he pledged to work with the Suffolk County legislature to address these issues in an effort to move Suffolk County’s economic agenda forward.