Long Island Investment Fund ideas call for change

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We asked . . . and you responded.

Our question was simple: How would you spend $350 million improving Long Island?

Now we’re giving the spotlight to readers who had many wise ideas on how to spend the state’s new Long Island Investment Fund. Some are small requests; others are enormous dreams. This one pot of money can’t tackle all of them. But they’re worth considering as state and local officials plan for the Island’s future.

Readers repeatedly hit key problems: transportation, transit, sewers and wastewater management, the environment, workforce development, education and housing.

Let’s start with the topic that came up again and again: Roads.

“Fix the damn roads!” said one reader.

“Tossing cold asphalt onto an ever expanding hole is not a solution,” wrote another, who asked that some funds go toward repaving “all the rutted state highways.” Readers pointed to other spots needing attention, like the infamous Oakdale Merge.

Other noted this is a moment to focus not only on driving, but on other forms of transportation key to the Island’s future. “I want easy, fast, efficient transportation to everywhere without having to drive,” wrote one reader, suggesting “bullet trains to everywhere in the state.”

Another urged spending money “to make it possible to really live well and comfortably on suburban Long Island without a car.” Among specific ideas: new Long Island Rail Road routes, tracks and stations; light rail; bus routes; and bike lanes. One Long Islander imagined something grander: high-speed rail over the Southern State Parkway and the Long Island Expressway.

Environmentally, readers suggested solar panels on schools and hospitals, incentives for electric vehicles and more charging stations, and — over and over — clean water. One resident rightly noted that the editorial board’s focus on the blue economy would mean little “if the water is polluted and there is no clamming or fishing or swimming.” Wastewater management and more sewers are key, readers said, citing neighborhoods like West Sayville, Sayville and Oakdale, where one reader emphasized cleaning up the “Grand Canal.”

“This is not a glamorous project,” one reader began, outlining the hundreds of thousands of cesspools on the Island and suggesting it was “time to take on the dirty and gritty problems in our area.”

More “glamorous” ideas were raised, too: build an “innovative hands on learning teaching, technology and entrepreneurship building at Stony Brook University,” one reader wrote; use open space to build large, dorm-style housing complexes open first to seniors willing to sell their homes to younger families, said another; prepare “our young workers for the industries of tomorrow,” such as artificial intelligence, space exploration and medical research, said a third.

Long Islanders have spoken. Now it’s up to our officials to listen.

(Complete reader responses are at newsday.com/opinion/voices.)

MEMBERS OF THE EDITORIAL BOARD are experienced journalists who offer reasoned opinions, based on facts, to encourage informed debate about the issues facing our community.