LICA Breakfast Hits a Home Run

LICA, annual breakfast, 9-16-16 (85).jpgThis past Friday, September 16th, LICA welcomed more than 200 members, supporters and elected officials to our 2016 Bi-County Infrastructure Breakfast  at Carlyle on the Green. After greeting our guests, LICA Executive Director Marc Herbst requested a moment of silence to honor the recent passing of long-time Legislator Judy Jacobs and Vincent Losquadro, father of Dan Losquadro, Brookhaven Town Highway Superintendent. Senator Tom Croci, LICA’s 2016 PAC honoree, then said a few words and led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Herbst began the official program by remarking on the importance of long-term planning and sufficient funding for infrastructure projects. Not only does the massive size, large price tag and complex nature of these projects often demand multi-year plans, but our members, the contractors and subcontractors who build this infrastructure and drive our economy, need this same visability in order to maintain a stable workforce and ensure the timely procurement of materials and machinery.

It is for those reasons that Herbst, on behalf of the LICA board of directors, publicly thanked our local leaders and elected officials. Their efforts helped ensure that important legislation such as the FAST Act was passed. The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (signed into law in December 2015) was the first law enacted in over ten years that provides long-term funding certainty for surface transportation, which will allow states and local governments to plan with confidence and move forward with critical long-term transportation projects. Prior to the passage of this Act, the industry endured the uncertainty of 36 temporary short-term funding extensions. Similarly, LICA praised Governor Cuomo and our local and state legislators for the approval of funding for the state’s recent 5-year capital program – the largest transportation plan in the state’s history – as well as the emphasis on moving forward with several mega projects including the LIRR 2nd Track and 3rd Track projects, East Side Access and the renovation of LaGuardia airport among others.

In honor of these accomplishments and as a thank you for their ongoing efforts in the battle to fight for local infrastructure needs, Herbst presented each official in attendance with a full size bat engraved with the message “Going to Bat for Long Island Infrastructure” from the Long Island Contractors’ Association. Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan was the first to receive a bat and spoke briefly about the efforts put forth in Albany to support infrastructure.

Congressman Israel Honored

As part of the program, LICA honored Congressman Steve Israel (D, NY-03) for his service and his support of “all things Long Island” as he prepares to retire from Congress later this year. As a token of our appreciation, LICA presented the Congressman with a Long Island themed goodie basket including personalized wine glasses, Tate’s (of Southampton) cookies and a Long Island shaped cutting board. Herbst also traded in his mock Amtrak New York to Washington DC ticket for a Hampton Jitney Winery Tour ticket which will be more suitable for his retirement!

Congressman Israel thanked LICA and its leader Marc Herbst for all the work they do to advocate for Long Island and a strong infrastructure. He also thanked Congressman Peter King and Congressman Lee Zeldin for their efforts on behalf of our region as well. He closed his comments by talking about his only regret when leaving Congress, which is “unfinished business”. He urged his colleagues to “reinvest in America” and to use today’s low rates to build big, important public works projects which will serve as a way to help grow middle class prosperity which this great country was founded upon.

Guest Speakers

Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano was the first County Executive to take the stage. He began by thanking all the Senators in the room who helped secure funding for important projects like the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum and the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant. He noted that several LICA members in the room today are working on the Bay Park project. To date, Mangano said $460 million in contracts have been awarded for this project and over the next several months an additional $175 million in additional improvements for Bay Park will be put out to bid. According to Mangano, the single most important project for Nassau County and our environment is an ocean outfall pipe and said they are continuing to work toward a solution for this critical project. They are about to bid out for the study to determine if the existing outfall pipe can be utilized and re-purposed, which would substantially reduce costs. Finally, he asked for everyone’s support and urged all the legislators to come together to approve his proposed $275 million capital plan which has been delayed by what he called “petty politics”. He closed by saying “The time is now to come together and work for the betterment of the people.”

Next, Congressman Peter King (R, NY-02)  was introduced by his colleague Congressman Lee Zeldin (R, NY-01). Zeldin spoke highly of King’s great work on issues of importance such as Superstorm Sandy recovery, national security matters and most recently, JASTA (Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act). He called King a “ferocious fighter for America” and a champion for Long Island. Congressman King returned the favor, praising Zeldin’s dedication to supporting our miliary veterans, especially here on Long Island.

Congressman King shared his thoughts with the crowd on the current presidential campaign, noting that it will be one of the most exciting, controversial, and “thought about” elections in history. He also took great pride in noting that Long Island’s own Hofstra University (one of our LICA Breakfast Sponsors!) will be the focus of the entire country when they host the first debate between the two main candidates. He urged everyone to tune into the debates and listen to both candidates on the issues – although he humorously noted that, at times, it may be a cross between the Lincoln-Doublas debates and a WWF wrestling match!

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone wrapped up our roster of speakers, noting that despite tight budgets, infrastructure is a key component of his two top priorities: water quality and economic development, which go hand-in-hand. Protecting our water sources will not only ensure that our quality of life, recreational enjoyment and home values are preserved, but it is also vital to our economy, helping to maintain Long Island’s $5 billion dollar tourism industry. He is pleased to note that local leaders are working together to help advance some of the most important infrastructure projects including an outfall pipe and the “sewering” of homes on the south shore of Suffolk County. Over the next 12-16 months, Bellone expects to let over $100 million in new construction projects, plus another $200 million for the outfall pipe investment. And, thanks to many of the state and federal leaders in the room, Suffolk has an additional $383 million in Superstorm Sandy recovery funds for projects that will be let over the next two years.

Bellone noted that when it comes to infrastructure, we cannot be reliant solely on the federal government. He stressed the need to identify a recurring funding source to support a local infrastructure fund, so we can continue to protect our water quality and invest in infrastructure each year moving forward. The County Executive closed his remarks by stating that he has no desire to simply make plans that get put on a shelf. What really matters is  “getting stuff done” and growing our economy.

For a gallery of photos from the event, click here

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