On Tuesday, Governor Spitzer announced an executive order that created a Smart Growth Cabinet charged with “reviewing state agency spending and policies to determine how best to discourage sprawl and promote smart land use practices.”
Congratulations to groups like the New York League of Conservation Voters, Regional Plan Association, and Vision Long Island for their work to make this announcement happen.
The Cabinet will be chaired jointly by the Governor’s Deputy Secretary for the Environment Judith Enck and the Deputy Secretary for Economic Development and Infrastructure Timothy Gilchrist, and will include heads of various state agencies, including NYS DOT Commissioner Astrid Glynn. So far, the Governor has given $2 million, from the state’s environmental protection fund, towards three separate smart growth initiatives.
The Cabinet should certainly focus on reform at the Department of Transportation. With a large capital budget and projects throughout the state, NYS DOT has power to invest dollars into towns and villages willing to design land use policies that seek to reduce sprawl and the future growth in driving. Projects like Tappan Zee Bridge/I-287 and Route 347 in Brookhaven are ripe for a coordinated and collaborative approach that considers local visions and land use plans. In fact, last year municipalities along the I-287 corridor asked the NYS DOT for grants and technical assistance to help them plan for the future of the corridor with a new transit service. Unfortunately, the DOT never responded.
The Cabinet will hold its first meeting in January.