Tags Posts tagged with "Chuck Schumer"

Chuck Schumer

A view of the Long Island Sound. Public domain photo

U.S. Reps. Nick LaLota (R-NY-1) and Joe Courtney (D-CT-2), co-chairs of the Long Island Sound Caucus, introduced Sept. 13 the bipartisan Long Island Sound Restoration and Stewardship Reauthorization Act of 2023, which would reauthorize the Long Island Sound programs to ensure the protection and preservation of the Sound.

This is the House companion to legislation introduced by U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Chris Murphy (D-CT).

“As the co-chair of the Long Island Sound Caucus, I am proud to introduce the Long Island Sound Restoration and Stewardship Act,” LaLota said. “The Long Island Sound is not just a body of water — it’s a way of life for our community.”

The congressman added, “This legislation underscores the vital importance of preserving this natural treasure, not only for our environment but for the thriving fishing industry that sustains Long Island’s economy.”

In 1985, Congress created the Long Island Sound Study to identify and address the major environmental problems affecting the Sound. The LISS brings together the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, New York State, Connecticut State, nonprofit organizations and educational institutions to help restore and protect the Long Island Sound, including the watershed, which spans up toward New Hampshire and Vermont into Canada.

The new act would reauthorize the Long Island Sound programs from 2024 through 2028.

“The Long Island Sound is a unique ecological resource for eastern Connecticut and is home to a vast array of economic activities in our region,” Courtney said. “Last year our region secured an historic new investment for the Long Island Sound from the federal Infrastructure Law and the FY23 government spending package,” adding, “Reauthorizing the Long Island Sound programs ensures Congress can continue to invest in the preservation and protection of this special region.”

To read the full text of the legislation, visit lalota.house.gov.

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Photo by DanTD from Wikimedia Commons

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) announced Friday, Sept. 15, $1 million in federal funding for Smithtown through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry grants program.

This project will implement tree inventory assessments focused on public outreach and education while protecting and improving the existing tree canopy through tree maintenance activities throughout the town.

Tree planting will take place after a public outreach and education campaign. The campaign aims to increase local awareness of the positive impacts of maintaining an urban tree canopy for quality of life, the natural ecosystem and the environment.

“I am proud to announce Long Island communities are among the first in the nation to tap the historic funding I secured in the Inflation Reduction Act to conserve and increase tree canopy, educate residents and improve storm and flood resilience with new tree plantings,” Schumer said. “I fought hard to plant this funding in the Inflation Reduction Act so that Long Island could have access to the funding needed to breathe new life into its communities.”

Gillibrand added to this sentiment, noting the environmental trends that have made this funding necessary for communities such as Smithtown.

“Expanding access to trees and green spaces on Long Island will give our communities a higher quality of life,” the U.S. senator said. “This money will help bring new life to the Island, where families can enjoy a greener, healthier environment.”

Town of Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) weighed in on this injection of federal stimulus. He tied the money to ongoing townwide efforts to improve the existing canopy.

“We are incredibly grateful to Senator Schumer for his advocacy in securing this funding, which is a gamechanger to advance our urban forestry agenda, the result of which will allow us to improve the community’s quality of life, wildlife and ecological habitat,” he said. “This grant will undoubtedly serve as the catalyst to expanding cutting-edge initiatives like our tree inventory, STEM and community outreach programs and our street tree canopy, which Smithtown’s urban foresters and the Department of Environment and Waterways have worked tirelessly to broaden over the years.”

He added, “We look forward to expanding our local green space, which will deliver ecological benefits for generations to come.”

The senators noted that a neighborhood lacking trees can lead to various problems, from increased air pollution, urban heat islands and poor health outcomes, all on top of negative economic impacts like decreased property values.

Schumer and Gillibrand said the Inflation Reduction Act has finally created the robust funding needed to maximize access to urban forests in cities and towns across New York.

The Inflation Reduction Act included $1.5 billion over the next 10 years for the U.S. Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry program, more than five times the current level of funding.

Schumer and Gillibrand explained that Urban and community forests cool neighborhoods, improve psychological well-being, keep electricity costs down, positively impact property values and help residents avoid the severe health impacts associated with heat waves.

Suffolk County Police Officer John Efstathiou during a general meeting of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association on Tuesday, Jan. 24. Photo by Raymond Janis

The Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association met at Comsewogue Public Library Tuesday, Jan. 24. The civic discussed public safety, the Lawrence Aviation Superfund site and its executive board transition.

Suffolk County Police Officer John Efstathiou delivered the report on public safety, sharing various crime statistics and trends throughout the area.

While catalytic converter theft has fallen off considerably, Efstathiou said carjackings are surging. “This month, I think we’re somewhere close to 20 in the [6th] Precinct,” he said. “Please lock your vehicles. Take your keys. Don’t leave anything in your vehicles that you don’t want stolen.”

Robberies during exchanges through Facebook Marketplace have also spiked. Efstathiou noted that even one of his colleagues, an off-duty police officer, was robbed after agreeing to meet someone through the e-commerce platform.

“It can happen to anyone,” he said. “Be aware that it’s taking place, and maybe bring somebody with you as well when you’re doing something like that.”

Frank Gawdun, team leader of Chick-fil-A’s nationwide rollout canopy program, presented to the civic association regarding a proposed canopy at the franchise’s location on Nesconset Highway.

Given the high traffic volume at the location, Gawdun suggested that the canopy proposal would address possible safety concerns. “We’re seeing numbers of anywhere from 47 to 54 cars every 15 minutes,” he said. 

The canopy system would enable two Chick-fil-A employees to be posted outside, moving traffic within the drive-thru more efficiently. “All we’re trying to do is let you guys know that we have an eye on this, and we want to do this canopy project as fast as we can and hopefully get it up this summer,” Gawdun said.

After discussion among the members, the civic association passed a resolution to draft a letter stating the civic has no objection to the proposal, subject to further input.

Andrea Malchiodi, assistant director of Comsewogue Public Library, gave a string of updates on upcoming events to be held at the library. Bus trips will be returning in the spring, with a trip planned for the Bronx Botanical Garden in April. The seed library will also reopen sometime in March.

Earlier this month, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) visited the Lawrence Aviation Superfund property, announcing $450,000 in federal funds to help demolish 14 remaining buildings. [See story, “Schumer announces $450K to help demolish buildings at Lawrence Aviation,” The Port Times Record, Jan. 12.]

Charlie McAteer, corresponding secretary of PJSTCA, updated the civic on planning for the Superfund site. Following the demolition of the structures and cleanup of any lingering contamination, plans are in the works for a passive solar farm. 

Another segment of the property would be for a rail yard, helping the Long Island Rail Road with logistics. The remainder of the property would serve as open space.

The meeting concluded with a discussion over a succession plan for the civic’s two highest-ranking officers. In October, Ed Garboski and Sal Pitti, the civic’s respective president and vice president, announced they would vacate their posts by the end of 2023. [See story, “Port Jefferson Station/Terryville civic talks … shake-up at the helm,” The Port Times Record, Oct. 27.]

The body passed a resolution to create a nominating committee to vet prospective candidates for the two positions. 

Under PJSTCA bylaws, the president is empowered to nominate members to a nominating committee of no fewer than three and no greater than five members. 

Garboski agreed to send out an email to all members “so that everyone knows we’re forming a nominating committee,” he said.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) recently secured $3.75 million for a proposed upland wall at Port Jefferson Country Club. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

The Village of Port Jefferson Board of Trustees kicked off the new year Tuesday, Jan. 3, with business and general meetings covering public expenditures, code changes and public safety.

East Beach bluff

Mayor Margot Garant announced that the village received $3.75 million for a proposed upper wall at Port Jefferson Country Club. The funds were made available through the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance grant program, facilitated by the office of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

The clubhouse facility at PJCC lies atop the East Beach bluff, which has rapidly eroded in recent years. Now the clubhouse is dangerously close to the bluff’s edge. [See story, “On the edge: Port Jeff Village weighs the fate of country club,” The Port Times Record, April 7.]

In an email from Schumer’s office, the senator outlined his reasons for supporting this coastal engineering project.

“This money will fund efforts to stabilize the crumbling East Beach bluff, where village recreation facilities are currently threatened due to the chronic erosion,” he said. “I worked to secure funding as soon as Mayor Garant reached out to me, and I am glad that with her partnership, we have obtained this funding — not only to preserve village assets but to ensure public safety and protect residents’ pocketbooks.” 

Garant said the federal funds would support the construction of an upland wall between the clubhouse and the bluff, potentially shielding the building from further coastal erosion at East Beach. 

“That money will help us save that building and restore the facilities as they preexisted up there,” she said. “We definitely have to recognize Senator Schumer’s action,” adding, “We have put that project out to bid. We have our letter of non-jurisdiction from the [New York State Department of Environmental Conservation], so we are ready to go on that project.”

Gap property

The former Gap property, located on Arden Place in Lower Port, was recently acquired by new ownership. Garant reported that plans for that property are still preliminary with the zoning and planning departments but hinted at the potential for mixed-used use of the space.

The new owner “is looking at a wet space on the first floor — sort of a food court concept that we had all kind of discussed,” she said. “And then possibly a second and third level, and perhaps a boutique hotel, which we welcome.” Devoting the space to apartments may also be on the table, Garant added.

Parking revenue

At the request of the director of economic development, parking administrator and communications committee head Kevin Wood, the board voted to evenly split the managed parking revenue generated during the 26th annual Charles Dickens Festival between the village and the Greater Port Jefferson-Northern Brookhaven Arts Council.

“This will bring us back into the black and help the arts council survive,” Garant said.

Country club manager

The board additionally approved the hire of Thomas Natola as general manager of the Port Jefferson Country Club at an annual salary of $139,000. Stan Loucks, trustee liaison to the country club, said Natola comes highly recommended by previous employers.

“Nobody had anything negative to say about Tom,” Loucks said. “Everything was positive.”

Public hearings

The board also held two public hearings during the general meeting. The first hearing dealt with a proposed change establishing Station Street, a one-way street between the Port Jefferson Crossing apartments and the train station. The amendment includes multiple provisions, preventing left turns onto the corridor as well as parking, stopping and standing.

Following a public hearing, the board approved the amendment unanimously. To read how Station Street received its name, see story, “Democracy and tech intersect to name Station Street in uptown Port Jeff,” The Port Times Record, Dec. 22.

The second hearing gave residents a chance to weigh in on a proposed $800,000 grant application through the Restore New York Communities Initiative, offering financial assistance to Conifer Realty. The funds would help Conifer demolish blighted buildings, clearing the way for its proposed Conifer II redevelopment at the Main and Perry streets intersection. Following the public hearing, the board approved the application unanimously.

Public safety

Fred Leute, chief of code enforcement, discussed the busy work of his department last month. Leute said code enforcement officers responded promptly on two occasions to resolve emergencies. For these efforts, the village board acknowledged multiple code officers, who were awarded proclamations and given a standing ovation from those in attendance.

To view this public commendation and to watch the trustee reports, see video below.

At podium, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announces $450,000 in federal funds to rid the Lawrence Aviation Superfund site of its remaining buildings. Photo by Raymond Janis

Public officials of all levels of government, business and civic leaders, and community members gathered Monday, Jan. 9, before a derelict building at the Lawrence Aviation Superfund site in Port Jefferson Station.

Once a dumping ground for toxic waste, policymakers are now plotting a course of action for this 126-acre property. After taking decades to rid the site of harmful contaminants, officials and community groups are working toward an ambitious proposal to convert the site into a multipurpose community hub, accommodating a solar farm, a railyard and open space for local residents.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called the press conference to announce the injection of $450,000 in federal funds secured through the recent omnibus budget. This money will be used to help demolish the remaining buildings at the property. 

“We’re here today to showcase one of the final puzzle pieces needed to demo 14 dangerous buildings here,” Schumer said. “I am here today to say that the train that is on this journey is ready to leave the station.” 

The Senate majority leader added that these funds would advance three community goals. “One, a railroad-use project to help the LIRR with logistics; industrial redevelopment of a 5-megawatt solar farm,” and lastly, add 50 construction jobs to the local economy.

At podium, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D). Photo by Raymond Janis

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) described the considerable intergovernmental coordination and logistical obstacles to get to this stage.

“This project, as reflected by all of the people that have come together and all the levels of government, is critically important to the community,” he said.

Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) discussed the long and arduous road to revitalizing the site and the decades that have passed as this community blight lay barren. 

“These buildings have been condemned for over 25 years,” he said. “This has been a Superfund site for almost 25 years. Finally, we will see these buildings come down.”

Former New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) also attended the press event. During his time in Albany, he championed the site’s conversion for environmental and community purposes.

“We have a plan that will enhance our community and create new jobs,” he said. “This property stood out as a place in peril of a potentially bad decision,” adding, “Instead, we have a very thoughtful plan.”

Englebright, a geologist by trade, also touched upon the environmental impacts that redevelopment will offer through these plans. He said local harbors, groundwater and surface waters would benefit as this dark episode in local history concludes.

At podium, Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (R). Photo by Raymond Janis

“The harbor, which is the beginning of our town, has been poisoned by the solvents that were poured into the ground here,” the former assemblyman said. “That is a thing of the past because of the federal involvement with the Superfund cleanup.”

He added, “All the levels of government are working together here, which is a beautiful thing. It’s a model for what government should be able to do all the time.”

Jen Dzvonar, president of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Chamber of Commerce, also offered her perspective. She said public improvements such as these indirectly support and promote local businesses.

“Any improvement in Port Jefferson Station is major,” she said. “By getting the blight away from the area, we will increase businesses. A solar farm is coming. They’re creating 50 construction jobs. It just heightens Port Jefferson Station and the desire to come here.”

Representing the Village of Port Jefferson were Mayor Margot Garant and Deputy Mayor Kathianne Snaden. Both stressed the importance of this undertaking, conveying their support for neighboring Port Jefferson Station in its community aspirations.

Garant viewed the plans as an opportunity to improve the Port Jefferson Branch line of the Long Island Rail Road. “We’re really in support of this because of the MTA portion of it,” she said. “To clean up this site, to put it back to public use, to not have the county paying taxes on it, is good for everybody.”

For Snaden, the project will bolster the village’s neighbors, representing a vital regional investment. “I think it’s great,” she said. “It’s a cleanup of the site. It’s knocking down these falling buildings, adding to the betterment of the entire community and the region at large.”

Schumer said the next step would be to ensure that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development expedites these funds, ensuring the prompt demolition of the buildings and swift redevelopment of the site.



Stock photo

By Chris Cumella

On a conference call with New York college students last month, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) presented his plan to cancel up to $50,000 in debt for federal student loan borrowers.

The plan is derived from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), who proposed national debt forgiveness as a promise in her presidential campaign. Both Warren and Schumer’s joint plan involves using a presidential executive to nullify student debt up to $50,000.

“College should be a ladder up,” Schumer said during the call. “But student debt weighs people down, it is an anchor, and we have to do something about it.”

President Joe Biden (D) has the executive authority to substantially cancel student loan debt for students through the Higher Education Act, according to Schumer. This would also bypass the requirement to present the motion to Congress.

Biden has said that he supported alleviating students of loan debt up to $10,000, and now the call to action is being echoed loudly by his fellow Democratic Party members. 

On his first day in office, the president addressed the ongoing dilemma regarding student debt, where his plan was to extend the pause on federal student loan payments and keeping the interest rate at 0% through the end of September.

The United States national student loan debt has accumulated at an alarming rate. An Experian survey indicated the total amount reached a record high of $1.57 trillion in 2020, an increase of about $166 billion since 2019.

Nearly 2.4 million New Yorkers owe $89.5 billion in federal student loans as of March 2020, Schumer said. The average New Yorker owes $34,600 in student loans, greater than the national average of $32,700.

To relieve loan borrowers of their debts, Schumer mentioned that if the federal government forgave debts up to $50,000, it would greatly bounce the economy. He detailed how instead of repaying their loans, people can instead allocate their money for other immediate and urgent payments, as well as leisure spending.

Schumer told conference attendees that the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 includes roughly $2.6 billion for New York’s colleges and universities, with half of the allocations distributed as financial aid to students in addressing hardships brought about by COVID-19.

Some of the local institutions benefiting from the American Rescue Plan for “estimated minimum amount for student grants” were listed by Schumer during the conference call: City College $23.6 million, CUNY Queens College $25.8 million, Syracuse University $15.4 million, SUNY Buffalo $31.7 million and Stony Brook University $26.8 million.

Schumer also made an urgent request for the call participants, primarily college students, to stay informed by reading local and student-run newspapers. He likewise reinforced the importance of those attending the conference to take a call to action to write, call and email Biden and get their friends and family to do so to spread awareness.

“Student loan payments are on pause, but they are not going away if we don’t do something once the pandemic is over,” Schumer said. “These debts are just going to keep piling up.”

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer said there is need to increase the PPP loan funding, but he and Republicans have disagreed how. File photo by Kevin Redding

One U.S. senator is hoping to cut off the flow of fentanyl to the many New York residents struggling with drug addiction.

U.S. Sen. and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) announced support for a plan that would stop supplies of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times stronger than heroin and is not commonly reversed by Narcan, a lifesaving overdose drug, because of how quickly it enters the brain. The drug has come from China, Mexico and other countries into New York City and across the United States. Schumer also publicly decried a just-revealed White House plan to gut the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s budget by 95 percent.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid much stronger than heroin. File photo

“President Trump’s nonsensical proposal is the most destructive contribution he’s made yet to the fight against the opioid and heroin epidemic, and another clear sign he has no intention of keeping the promises he’s made to the American people,” Schumer said in a statement. “While candidate Trump pledged to ‘take care’ of Americans struggling with addiction and spend the money to succeed, his proposal to eliminate funding for programs, such as High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area and Drug-Free Communities — which are instrumental in aiding local enforcement drug trafficking in many communities in New York, at the southern border and elsewhere — would effectively kick Americans seeking treatment to the curb and make our communities less safe.”

In 2017, the office received $388 million, and under the Trump (R) administration’s proposal, the office would receive $24 million in 2018. The Office of National Drug Control Policy, which was authorized in 1988 with bipartisan support, currently directs the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program, the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, the Drug Free Communities Program, anti-doping activities and the World Anti-Doping Agency. The proposed budget plan would also completely zero out the Drug-Free Communities and High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas programs, which provide substantial support to treatment, prevention and enforcement efforts on the ground.

“Senate Democrats will never vote to defund these vital programs, and I know there are many colleagues across the aisle who feel likewise,” he said. “I urge the President and Republicans in Congress to reject this proposal immediately.”

With fentanyl continuing its sprint onto the streets of New York City and Long Island, Schumer also launched a major push for the International Narcotics Trafficking Emergency Response by Detecting Incoming Contraband with Technology Act. The senator noted the bill is even more important now, with the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s funding on the chopping block.

“Fentanyl-laced heroin is devastating our communities and law enforcement needs to utilize every tool and technology to stop the flow of this deadly poison,” Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a statement. “The act will help law enforcement prevent fentanyl and other synthetic opioids from entering the country and will be a great asset in our efforts to dismantle the networks of traffickers and dealers who are fueling lethal heroin addictions.”

The Schumer-backed bill, introduced by U.S. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts), would give U.S. Customs and Border Protection the hi-tech tools and resources needed to improve detection capabilities and increase the seizure of illicit fentanyl shipped to the U.S. from abroad through mail and express consignment carriers. Schumer said he would work with his colleagues to take action on this issue that is destroying families in New York and the rest of the country, and do everything in his power to prevent Trump’s proposal to cut funds.

Fentanyl overdoses are not commonly reversed by Narcan, seen administered on a dummy during a training session. File photo by Elana Glowatz

“These deadly substances are being delivered to our homes, being sold on our streets and destroying our families,” Schumer said. “We know how they get here and where they come from, now we need to give U.S. Customs and Border Protection the resources to stop this flood and help save lives.”

Although pharmaceutical fentanyl can be misused, most of the fentanyl being sold on the street is illicitly manufactured. While distributors in China are the principal source of the precursor chemicals used to manufacture the drug, as well as a source for finished-product illicit fentanyl and fentanyl analogs, Mexico is the primary source for illicit fentanyl smuggled into the United States. Fentanyl suppliers then use methods to mislabel shipments or conceal them inside legitimate goods in order to avoid Customs and Border Protection detection. In 2016, nearly 200 pounds of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids were seized, primarily from along the southwest border. This is a 25-fold increase of seizures in 2015.

In 2015, 753 people died of an opioid overdose and, as of April, that number was projected to hit 1,075 for 2016. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene says fentanyl is driving overdose death increases in New York City and is increasingly present in deaths from drug overdoses. There were 303 opioid-related deaths in Suffolk County in 2016, including 171 related to fentanyl. In Nassau County, there were 190 opioid-related deaths in 2016, including 62 related to fentanyl.

“Fentanyl is now killing more Long Islanders than even heroin is, and we know it’s only a matter of time before the next deadly synthetic opioid hits the streets,” said Jeffrey Reynolds, president and chief executive officer of the Family and Children’s Association, a not-for-profit agency that helps protect and strengthen vulnerable children, seniors, families and communities on Long Island. “As substance abuse prevention specialists and addiction treatment professionals work to reduce the demand for drugs, the act will help reduce the supply of synthetic opioids flooding across our borders, into our homes, schools and communities. This legislation is critical as we continue to battle an unrelenting opioid and heroin crisis.”

A scene from a recent plane crash in Setauket. File photo

Following a spike in small plane crashes over the last few years, U.S. Sen. and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) called for an investigation, and he got answers.

On March 3, Schumer sent a letter to the National Transportation Safety Board asking for an in-depth analysis of recent U.S.-registered civil aircraft accidents on Long Island to help develop recommendations to prevent future incidents.

“I strongly urge you not just to conduct yet another investigation … but to also undertake a comprehensive and system-wide review to understand why these accidents are happening, and what can be done in order to decrease the occurrences,” he wrote in the letter. “The number of airplane crashes across the system must be reduced.”

This request came after a recent crash in Southampton, though others have also occurred in Shoreham, Port Jefferson, Setauket, Kings Park and Hauppauge in recent years.

The board, in a letter of response to Schumer, said it examined data from accidents in New York over the last five years, including the number of accidents, types of injuries, types of operations, causes of accidents and locations.

Since 2012, 156 aviation accidents have occurred, with 140 of these aircraft operating as flights under Part 91 of the Federal Aviation Regulations — small noncommercial aircraft. The causes have been similar in nature for the incidents with completed investigations. Most included safety-related issues, like loss of control, which occurred in one-third of aviation accidents. An in-flight loss of control accident involves an unintended departure from controlled flight, which could be caused by an engine stall, pilot distraction, loss of situational awareness or weather. According to the letter, the board said that preventing loss of control in flight in general aviation is currently on its 2018 Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements.

Other causes of aviation accidents included loss of engine power, controlled flight into terrain and hard landings.

Moving forward, the board plans to reach out to the general aviation community and host a safety seminar later this year.

“We consider Long Island a suitable venue for this safety seminar because a number of general aviation accidents have occurred in that area and because we believe the robust general aviation community there will be receptive to our safety outreach,” the letter stated. “We anticipate that this seminar will help raise awareness about these recent accidents in New York and around the country and about specific issues affecting the general aviation community.”

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Senator Chuck Schumer is taking wireless network companies to task for poor service in areas of Long Island. File photo by Elana Glowatz

Kudos to U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) for working to improve the quality of life for Long Islanders. He recently submitted a list of more than 200 “dead zones” for cellphones on the Island to both the Federal Communications Commission and to wireless service providers and told them in no uncertain terms to get their act together. Long Island is a heavily populated area, and we deserve better coverage.

Schumer gathered his list of problem spots with the help of folks who know where they are. He established a page on his Senate website specifically for reporting poor service areas and invited residents to provide the information.

Many of us have our own mental catalog of places where our cell phones are useless, and we try to work around those dead zones.

But what if we can’t work around them? What if something happens to us in a place where there is poor service? What if you need assistance right now but have no way of obtaining it?

Sadly, we were not surprised when our requests for comments from the wireless carriers were mostly met with silence.

Just last weekend, we needed access to the many storm bulletins and the latest news in order to decide if we should stay or evacuate as Tropical Storm Hermine threatened our shores.

Our cell phones are no longer just fun accessories. They are necessities that keep us in touch and help to facilitate our lives. So we believe that Schumer is right. It’s not okay for carriers to just woo us with fabulous coverage claims. They must provide service everywhere we need it.

While we think it’s terrific that 200 plus dead zones will hopefully be addressed by the service providers, it leaves us to wonder — what about all the others? As our editorial staff read over the list, we all thought of spots in our neighborhoods that weren’t on the list, but should be.

But this is on us. We didn’t contribute to this poll. As helpful as Schumer’s plan is, it won’t solve the problem unless we too get involved.

We’re sure President John F. Kennedy (D) had bigger problems in mind when he asked the country what it can do for its government. But it fits perfectly in local cases just like this.

Our local government can only help us as much as we help it.

Senator Chuck Schumer is taking wireless network companies to task for poor service in areas of Long Island. File photo by Elana Glowatz

Frustrating dropped calls, undelivered text messages and slow loading web pages may soon be a thing of the past on Long Island if one U.S. Senator has anything to say about it.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) submitted a list to wireless carriers of more than 200 ‘dead zones’ for cellular service on Long Island Aug. 25. The list was accumulated by Long Island residents identifying areas where frequent lapses in service occur to Schumer’s website over the course of several months. North Country Road in Port Jefferson and Setauket, Main Street in Northport, Route 25 in Smithtown, Shore Road in Mount Sinai and Hawkins Avenue in Stony Brook were among the North Shore locations residents pegged for spotty service according to a press release from Schumer’s office.

Infographic by TBR News Media
Infographic by TBR News Media

“When it comes to cell service on Long Island, these dead zones are proof carriers need to —quite frankly— raise the bar,” Schumer said in a statement. “A heavily populated region like Long Island shouldn’t be home to over 200 dead zones. Just a stone’s throw away from New York City and home to several universities, thousands of businesses and more, Long Island’s cell phone coverage must remain uninterrupted. Now that Long Islanders have submitted critical dead zones locations to my office, our wireless carries must make sure they are fixed. I will share these locations to carriers and am urging them to come up with a solution that meets the needs of both Nassau and Suffolk residents.”

Spokespeople from wireless carriers T-Mobile and AT&T did not respond to requests for comment regarding Schumer’s list. Andrew Testa, a public relations manager for Verizon Wireless’ northeast market, deferred questions regarding the Senator’s list of dead zones to international nonprofit CTIA — The Wireless Association, who has represented the wireless communications industry since 1984. CTIA spokeswoman Amy Storey declined to comment on behalf of any of their members, which include Verizon Wireless, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint.

One company addressed Schumer’s concerns.

“Sprint is committed to making sure Sprint customers have a great experience on our network and we’re investing to improve our coverage and reliability on Long Island,” company spokeswoman Adrienne Norton said in an email Aug. 26. “We share Senator Schumer’s goal of better service for Sprint customers and look forward to working with him to enact legislation that will reduce barriers to network deployment.”

Norton added that more Sprint cell sites, or towers should be expected on Long Island in the next nine months, which should improve service.

Schumer said lapses in cellphone coverage could create dangerous situations if GPS technology fails, and could deter business owners from setting up shop or tourists from visiting Long Island if problems persist. He called on wireless companies to come up with solutions to alleviate the issues.