Wednesday, November 28, 2012

JA Virtual Tourism

map of eastern jamaica by Edu-Tourist
map of eastern jamaica, a photo by Edu-Tourist on Flickr.

While no longer traveling to Jamaica on a regular basis, I am pleased to see that my photographs of St. Thomas have taken a life of their own on the web. This map of Eastern Jamaica recently bumped out my Africa maps to become the most viewed image in my flickr photostream.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Celebration Summer with New Infrastructure!!

NYSDOT & Greenway Friends by Edu-Tourist
NYSDOT & Greenway Friends, a photo by Edu-Tourist on Flickr.

Photo Caption: State Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald, State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey, Assemblyman Steve Englebright , NYSDOT Regional Director Subi Chakraborti, State Parks Deputy Regional Director Brian Foley, Brookhaven Town Councilman Steve Fiore Rosenfeld President Charles McAteer and members of Friends of the Greenway (Three Village Trust), and NYSDOT project staff members gathered to celebrate the upcoming construction of the Setauket-Port Jefferson Station Multi-Use Path Phase II. 6/28/12

FOR RELEASE: IMMEDIATE CONTACT: Bill Reynolds
Friday, June 29, 2012 (518) 457-6400

STATE DOT AND PARKS COMMISSIONERS SPOTLIGHT LONG ISLAND BICYCLE PATH PROJECTS

New Paths at Jones Beach, Bethpage Park and Setauket to Add More Than 18 Miles to State’s 172 Miles of Bike Routes on Long Island

New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald and New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Rose Harvey visited three new bicycle/multi-use path construction project sites on Long Island yesterday, highlighting the more than 18 miles of new paths being added to the State’s 172 miles of on- and off-road bike routes across the island. Approximately 24 percent of the state’s highways on Long Island, including most non-interstate and non-parkway roads, accommodate cyclists.

“The New York State Department of Transportation is about more than roads and
bridges,” Commissioner Joan McDonald said. “Governor Andrew Cuomo’s leadership on smart growth and sustainable development reinforces the critical role bicycle paths play in our multi-modal transportation system. We’re pleased to partner with the State Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation in expanding opportunities for cyclists and pedestrians, and encouraging them to enjoy all the natural beauty Long Island has to offer this summer.”

NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Rose Harvey said, “Transportation and recreation often go hand in hand. With 18 miles of new multi-use paths, cyclists, runners, hikers and others will have even more opportunities to get out and explore Long Island’s beautiful landscape. I am grateful to Commissioner McDonald and the state Department of Transportation for their partnership in creating these tremendous new resources for safe and healthy recreation.”

Commissioners McDonald and Harvey were joined by bike enthusiasts and elected officials at the planned Ocean Parkway Jones Beach Bike Access Project site in Hempstead, Nassau County, and at two locations where multi-use paths are under construction: the Bethpage State Park Bikeway Expansion Project site in Oyster Bay, Nassau County, and the Setauket-Port Jefferson Multi-Use Path Project site in Brookhaven, Suffolk County. Combined, the three represent an estimated $11.5 million investment this year in new paths for pedestrians and non-motorized vehicles on Long Island.

Ocean Parkway-Jones Beach Access Multi-Use Path, Hempstead

The commissioners started their day in Hempstead at the proposed Ocean Parkway-Jones Beach Access Multi-Use Path, which will provide a vital 0.7 mile connection between the end of the 7.5-mile Wantagh State Parkway Multi-Use Path and the Jones Beach State Park East Bath House. It will be constructed through the Jones Beach Theater parking area to the pedestrian underpass, where new storage will be provided for 100 bicycles. The project contract is scheduled to be let this fall, with construction completed next spring at a cost of approximately $1 million.

State Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. said, “Many residents from all across Long Island ride, run, and walk on the Wantagh Parkway Bike Path every single day. This project will give them greater access to Jones Beach, which is the crown jewel of the state parks system, and provide a critical link to the planned Ocean Parkway Bike Path. I’m pleased New York State is making this investment to improve the bike path for all who use it.”

Assemblyman Dave McDonough said, “I am pleased that the New York State Department of Transportation and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation have come together to extend the bike path at beautiful Jones Beach which will have numerous benefits to our residents by increasing mobility and accessibility through Jones Beach Park by bicycle and increasing the health benefits of bicycling.”

Bethpage State Park Multi-Use Path Extension, Oyster Bay

The commissioners also viewed construction under way on the Bethpage State Park Multi-Use Path Extension in Oyster Bay. The project is extending the path six miles from a picnic area, through Trail View State Park to Woodbury Road. The existing path dates to the 1970s. An additional 2.4-mile on-road bike-access way is also being provided.

This project includes enhancements to a remnant of the original Long Island Motor Parkway and the installation of information kiosks, destination signs and new park-and-bike lots. The $6.5 million bikeway extension is being constructed by the United Fence and Guard Rail Corporation of Ronkonkoma under contract with NYSDOT.

State Senator Kemp Hannon said, “Trails and greenways make our communities more livable, preserve and restore open space, and provide opportunities for physical activity to improve fitness and mental health.”
State Senator Carl L. Marcellino said, “Extending the trail way to the Syosset Railroad Station is an environmentally sound way to move people around Long Island. When someone decides to ride a bike to work, they open up room on our congested road system. And, of course, cyclists produce no pollution, add little wear to our roads and are also improving their personal health as they ride. This is a win-win for everybody.”

Assemblyman Charles Lavine said, “The Bethpage Parkway Bike Path Extension will create a safer path for both experienced and recreational cyclists. This new extension will encourage more Long Islanders to use their bikes and will enhance the vitality of the community as a whole.”

Assemblyman Joseph Saladino said, "New York State residents have always embraced the environment and outdoor recreation. I hope that everyone will take an opportunity to use this trail. I know they will enjoy it."

Nassau County Legislator Judy Jacobs said, “This is a very important step toward alleviating our dependence on cars by giving people a safer alternative way to get to their destination.”

Mickey Miller, president of the Old Bethpage Citizens Advisory Group, said, “On behalf of the Old Bethpage Citizens Advisory Group, my thanks to the DOT for giving Long Island a world class bike path.”

Setauket to Port Jefferson Multi-Use Path, Brookhaven

Finally, the commissioners went to Brookhaven to tour the site of the Phase II extension of the popular Setauket to Port Jefferson Multi-Use Path. Construction there is scheduled to begin in August and be completed in May 2014.

This $3.4 million, two-mile extension will provide a safe, accessible, non-motorized path between residential, recreational and retail areas between NY Route 25A in Setauket and NY Route 112 in Port Jefferson Station. Porous concrete is being used to facilitate drainage in a new parking field, and information kiosks and new path signs are being installed. Boulders from the property are being reused and placed to prevent ATVs from accessing the path. Two new traffic signals are being provided at Gnarled Hollow Road to enhance safety there for bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists.

Congressman Tim Bishop said, “With the completion of the Setauket-Port Jefferson Station Greenway, federal funds I secured will continue to enhance our North Shore communities for decades to come. I appreciate the work of everybody who has supported this outstanding resource for bikers, hikers, and nature lovers.”
Senator Ken LaValle said, "The Setauket to Port Jefferson Multi-Use Path will provide a recreational trail that offers a safe venue for bike riders and hikers to enjoy the great outdoors and the beauty of Long Island’s north shore."

Charlie McAteer, chair of the Friends of the Greenway said, “The Friends of the Greenway acknowledge the great cooperation with the federal, state, county and town governments in the creation of the Setauket to Port Jefferson Station Multi-Use trail. This path is already considered a jewel, tying our two communities together while providing alternative transportation to gas-powered vehicles. Our neighborhood is a better place for the foresight of this Greenway project, the governmental officials who funded it, and NYSDOT Commissioner Joan McDonald and her hard working staff.”

Virtually every state road on Long Island features some accommodation for bicycling, except for high-volume highways and parkways where bicycling is prohibited. One particularly picturesque example is the Montauk Highway/NY Route 27, a 37-mile-long, signed, on-road bike route between Southampton and the Montauk Lighthouse. Another is NY Route 114, a three-mile signed bike route between Shelter Island and Sag Harbor, which includes a tranquil ferry ride.

Copies of the Long Island Bikeways map and additional information regarding Long Island bike facilities may be obtained at www.511ny.org/rideshare/rideshare.aspx?FolderID=149. General information about cycling in New York State is available at www.dot.ny.gov/display/programs/bicycle.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Erie Canal Adventure


The first day started wet and windy. After a brief security check we were flying across the Buffalo - Fort Erie International Peace Bridge into Southern Ontario.  The clouds slowly cleared and the sun made an appearance as we followed the bike path up the Niagara River.  Mike and Steve, who had been to the falls before, explained to our newby (Ken) that the puff of smoke on the horizon was really mist rising out Horseshoe Falls.

Approaching Niagara Falls



Dotted with historical sites and tourist attractions, the Niagara River Parks can sooth the racing heart of even the most enervated cyclist.

Break near Fort George

With two border crossings and quite hilly terrain on the road to Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario and Lockport, New York, this was one our more challenging days in the saddle. The video below will give you a sense of what it was like to ride past the hydroelectric plant (with the Niagara River running through a gorge below).


We

Bridge Crossing

The whole trip was lovely even biking through the morning mist and rain or, as mentioned briefly in this video clip, braving distinctly bicycle-unfriendly Syracuse.



What the video should have told you about were some of our more unanticipated accommodation challenges, like the beds at Pink Fountain Motor Inn East (Depew), the lack of toilet paper at the Palatine Motel (Palatine Bridge) or fishing the copperhead snake out of the stove at Hal & Betty's on the last night.


One screamed - Ken - and other two musketeers - Ken & Steve - evicted ...

<< ... the ferocious snake >>

Otherwise the trip came off without incident or serious trauma. 
travail, yes ... trauma, no
Thanks to all of you for your support for our efforts!
I am sure Carla and I will be back to see more of this corner of the world.
[click on photos on the right to see more of Mike's photography]

Friday, May 25, 2012

Scenarios for Comsewogue Schools c/o Port Jefferson Patch

new budget by Edu-Tourist
new budget, a photo by Edu-Tourist on Flickr.
Lon Cohen, Port Jefferson Patch, May 24, 2012 - link
After failing to pass by the needed supermajority, Comsewogue School District is reworking its budget to fit within the allowable state tax cap. That means a budget that does not increase the tax levy more than 2.6 percent, trimming about $2.9 million.

A major money saver in the new budget will be to reorganize the four elementary schools into what is known as the Princeton Plan. Under this reorganization, each school is no longer composed of grades K through 5 but are grouped to hold entire class grades with students “graduating” to another building midway through their elementary school careers.

Reconfiguring the elementary school buildings into the Princeton Plan.
The Princeton Plan calls for:

  • Going from four grade K - 5 buildings to two grade K-2 buildings (Norwood and Clinton) and two grade 3-5 buildings (Boyle and Terryville)
  • Moving all grade K-2 students from Boyle to Norwood and all grade 3-5 students from Norwood to Boyle
Similarly, district will move all K-2 students from Terryville to Clinton and all grade 3-5 students from Clinton to Terryville. Extracurricular clubs and Intramurals will be at the two elementary 3rd to 5th grade buildings.  Both 3rd to 5th grade buildings will have computer labs.  Both K to 2nd grade buildings will have the Universal Pre-K Program

Average elementary class sizes are significantly reduced:
  • K to 2nd grade class size average: 23
  • 3rd to 5th grade class size average: 26
The reorganization will save the district $1 million, according to Assistant Superintendent of Business Susan M. Casali.

For many families, the plan effectively ends the convenience of having an elementary school close to home where a child can attend Kindergarten (and in some cases even pre-school) all the way to 5th grade without ever changing buildings. Concerns about transportation and how children will be able to handle the transition into a new school also came up.

The reorganization of elementary schools hung over the heads of a lot of parents who supported the 4.5 percent budget that failed on May 15. Some have vowed that they will not support the alternative budget if the Princeton Plan is a part of it.

“I won't vote yes for any budget that includes the Princeton Plan,” one commenter wrote on Patch.

Nevertheless, it seems a forgone conclussion that the Princeton Plan is going to be a major portion of the new budget to save the district money.

In 2011, the Island Trees School District in Levittown reorganized its elementary schools to cut money from its budget. Superintendent Charles Murphy said that it saved his school district about $500,000 per year.

“The parents were very supportive and the teachers have now come around to it as well,” Murphy said in an email to Patch.

He said that the students haven’t been affected by the change either.

“They don’t notice any difference since they’re in their classrooms and grade levels all day,” he said.

In the case of Island Trees, the district merged two elementary schools that were already on the same campus so kids didn’t have to travel far from home to attend a new school.

Still, to ease the transition from one school to the other, the district came up with ideas like having students visit their new school to give them a tour beforehand and asking the PTA to organize special events and orientations to make it more of a positive experience for kids, faculty and families.

Not all parents in Comsewogue are against the plan.

Christa Yamanita said that she has seen the plan in action and thinks it has some good points. Among them are setting the schools on an even playing field.

“As we have all seen here there have been discrepancies from school to school in library services, information distribution and parent involvement,” she said. “Since all the kids of each grade level will be in the same place they will all get equal services.”

She also likes the fact that students will be with similar aged kids making community learning better and cutting down on bullying. Yamanita also thinks that grouping all the students into one building for each grade will help foster relationships across the neighborhoods both between the kids and their families.

Change can be scary for parents of children in elementary school who will have to get used to a new way of looking at it but she says that in time they will get used to it.

“Bottom line, if we all were introduced to this program when Kindergarten started we wouldn't be batting at eye at the school changing every few years,” she said. “It would just be how it is and we would be fine with it.”

Other Highlights of the 2.6 Percent Budget:
  • The district budget is below the Tax Cap requiring a simple majority to pass
  • Average cost to homeowner: $185.00 per year
  • Secondary class size average: 25 (based on enrollment and course selection)
  • Continuation of a complete extracurricular and athletic program
  • Continuation of security services
  • Impact of Budget Failure:
If the budget of June 19 fails, the district must adopt a budget at 0 percent tax levy increase. If the district adopts this budget, the following cuts will occur:
  • Kindergarten or half day Kindergarten
  • Close an elementary school
  • Class sizes will be increased to contractual maximum
  • Reconfiguration of remaining 3 buildings (Similar to Princeton Model)
  • No extracurricular activities
  • No athletic programs
  • No security
  • Severe reductions of electives on the secondary level
  • No evening activities
  • No community use of the buildings

School Funding Matters

admin by Edu-Tourist
admin, a photo by Edu-Tourist on Flickr.

Edu-Tourist (Michael L. Dorn)
Byline: Port Jefferson Station, NY
Story: Administrators at three local school districts - Mt. Sinai, Comsewogue, and Three Village - are reconsidering their options after their budgets failed to meet the rigorous standard for approval (60%) in this year's elections. Each presented voters budget increases higher than the 6.2% cap set by Gov. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Friday, April 06, 2012

local fun

where on long island by Edu-Tourist
where on long island, a photo by Edu-Tourist on Flickr.

"Where on Long Island" - link - is one of my favorite flickr groups. Always welcoming new sharpsters to post and guess!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Reimaginging the City

There are many cities besides the one that visitors glimpse through the lens of the guided tour. Old American cities like Philadelphia repay multiple visits and an openness to serendipity. On my quick visit yesterday I had time to kill before visiting with a potential masters student for a lunchtime chat. Following my geographical instincts, I happened upon Washington Square, renowned for its role as a publishing mecca - on the east side once can admire the ornate facade of J. B. Lippincott. Today there is much discussion of regreening the city as a strategy to fight climate change. Part of the solution is reimagining parks like Washington Square can be found in their history - perhaps we can find direction for the future cacooned in our collective past?

Sign reads:

"In the 17th century, when the Square first appeared in the city plan, streams drained into a deep gully in front of you. Then, beginning in 1833, geometric paths invited visitors into a leveled square planted with hundreds of trees.

"By 1846, Washington Square, with its seats, lamps and ornamental fences, had dramatically changed from the “offensive nuisance” of the 18th century into “a beautiful and fashionable promenade” where adults strolled and children played marbles.

"In 1853, American landscape architect Andrew Jackson Dowling’s Rural Essays praised Washington Square, reporting that it had 'more well grown specimens of different species of forest trees than any similar space of ground in America'."


Sunday, November 06, 2011

Stony Brook U.: sustainable living?

I'm looking forward to learning more about green initiatives on the Stony Brook University campus. Perhaps it is because I work in the bowels of the Health Sciences Center, but it takes a lot for information to filter down to me. The website is helpful but wish there was an event were I could get some of my questions answered - like whose roof garden was that I stumbled upon over the summer?