Saturday, August 21, 2004

Billy Joel: The Downeaster Alexa

I was a bayman like my father was before
Can't make a living as a bayman anymore
There ain't much future for a man who works the sea
But there ain't no island left for islanders like me

News12 Long Island is doing a series on why young people are increasingly leaving Long Island. The easy answer is this: HIGH COST OF LIVING. Even an educated, successful person can find it difficult to live here. The houses are too expensive, taxes too high, and the price of everything from milk to gas to car repair is higher than most other places. Besides the economic factors, Long Island used to be a great suburb to grow up in, with low crime, ample parklands, and pretty towns, but increasingly is nothing more than a collection of ugly stripmalls and Uber-Marts. We used to snobbily look down our noses at Queens and Brooklyn for more than just their high crime rates. They also had constant traffic, noise, limited parking, and streets lined with garbage blowing in the wind. With the exception of crime, which is still very low on Long Island, we can't claim those other things are "city problems" anymore. Much of Long Island is starting to resemble the city with graffiti everywhere and constant traffic. So many Long Islanders are moving to Florida for the lower cost of living and better landscape. I see myself someday moving elsewhere as I just don't see the Island as being as unique and special as it once was. I actually grew up across the street from a small farm - it was sold and two houses were built when I was young. I loved to drive around when I was 18 and just got my driver's license but today I find driving here a chore I avoid. We don't have too many nice villages either and it is too difficult to get to the ones that exist, such as Huntington. Many people moved here from Brooklyn and Queens to escape the problems of citylife but now Long Island is not the promised land anymore. One can only move east to a certain point before one ends up in the ocean. I hope Long Island can stem the tide long enough to redevelop and plan its growth out so it remains a good place to live. Ironically NYC can show us some ways, since it has turned around in many positive ways.

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