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Robert Yaro, President, Regional Plan Association

May 20, 2005 @ 12:00 am EDT


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This morning we heard from an old friend of LIMBA Bob Yaro. Mr. Yaro is the president of the New York Regional Plan Association.


Bob started with a challenging proposition. We can be an example of how a region will function or, a good example of how not to operate.


Yaro made the following observations;

  • We need new patterns of growth on Long Island because the zoning we have today is unsustainable.

  • The rural and natural areas of the East end can be preserved and doing so will have a positive effect on the economy. Growth Vs preservation is a non-choice

  • Instead of Long Island being the leader in the NY Region’s economy, it is now emerging as a drag on the region. Most of the many new jobs in New York City went to New Jersey rather than Long Island. Why? Because we need a more efficient and attractive, as well as, less costly means of transportation to the city.

  • There is little progress in getting the changes we need because of what Yaro calls the “pull up the drawbridge” mentality.


Yaro cited the need for the third track on the main line of the LIRR. We also need to properly fund the remaining work on the East side access to NYC. 


With the region growing, the share of new jobs for Long Island should be 1/2 million. That just isn’t going to happen unless we address the problems that need attention.


After hearing Yaro, it makes me wonder if we are not just drowning in our own stupidity. Perhaps we are, but is the job of those of us who try to lead is to make the case for intelligent change.


On a positive note Yaro said that he believes the leadership of Suffolk and Nassau under Steve Levy and Tom Souzzi is excellent and therefor hopeful.


We adjourned the meeting at 9:38. Some of us went into Great Neck for a memorial service for our founder, Paul Townsend, which commenced at 11AM. I could not help thinking that Paul has been citing much of the shortsightedness that is plaguing us now. Paul always saw the opportunities for Long Island, but he was never blind to our myopia. He pressed on nevertheless. We must do so as well.  


I was asked to speak at the memorial, which I considered a great honor.


Remember, there is no meeting next week