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Dr Lee Koppleman, Planning and the Region

August 18, 2006 @ 12:00 am EDT


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Dr Lee Koppelman spoke at LIMBA and it has been about 12 years since he last spoke there. The master planner was generally in good spirits about the way Long Island has developed.

He began by citing the economic importance of the Long Island region. Suffolk County, for example, is still the largest agricultural county in the state of New York. Long Island with an annual Gross Domestic Product of $130 billion is bigger than more than half of the states in the union, and bigger than most of the counties in the world.


He proudly pointed out the Hauppauge Industrial Park as an important contributor to this healthy economy. According to Koppelman It is a model for the rest of the country, and possibly the most important facility of its kind. Lee reminded us of an earlier time when Long Island lost 110,000 skilled jobs with the demise of the then, robust defense industry, but it was that defense industry that provided Long Island with the intellectual assets we needed to transform this economy and diversify. Dr. Koppelman expressed some concern about outsourcing, but not because of call centers popping up in India, but the loss of the good manufacturing jobs.


Dr Koppelman is the author of several pieces of legislation that protects open land, and while he is happy that those measures were adopted, in most cases the voters were more interested in arresting growth than aiding conservation.


Lee was less concerned about immigration than some of the pandering political types, pointing out that as far immigration is concerned we’ve been there before. The Italians the Irish, the Germans and the Jews were all “threats” in their time. The threat is not what it seems was the essence of his message.


Dr Koppelman was enthusiastic about our educational institutions and our world renown facilities at Cold Spring Harbor and Brookhaven National Labs. The future, he feels will be very much shaped by these quality institutions and schools. And that future is heading in a positive direction.


He was less than sanguine about the prospects of rail freight when I asked a question about improving it, citing objections from the passenger division and rail infrastructure deficiencies coming into NY City. (some of those problems are being addressed presently).


Dr Koppelan spoke breifly about the floating gas facility proposed by Broadwater and suggested that we allow the full process to proceed, and learn as much as we can to see if this facility represents a net gain for the region. (That, by the way, is the position of LIMBA)


His biggest disappointment appeared to be the lack of sewers that will be needed to support better growth. The Southwest Sewer District scandal, still has politicians running for cover whenever the topic is broached. Saying sewering to a politician is a little like Bud Abbot saying “Niagara Falls” to that maniac in that old  comedy classic film. (Sorry, you have to be old enough to remember that bit)


Pictured: Judy McEvoy and Dr. Lee Koppelman