The following are answers to The Foggiest Five, a set of questions asked to influential Long Islanders on the future of the region. This round features answers from Steve Jones, whose extensive resume includes CEO of the Suffolk County Water Authority, and Director of first the Town of Islip’s department of Planning, followed by heading the Suffolk County Planning Department from 1993 to 2000. Steve’s answers are to the point, and packed with planning know-how. The views presented are the author’s alone, and do not represent those of The Foggiest Idea:

1. What is your favorite part of living on Long Island?
Summer by the water, simple as that. Why go anywhere else!

2. What is our greatest regional challenge?
Greatest regional challenge is keeping a healthy middle class here. It is getting more divided into rich people and a service population who provide for them.

3. What is an easy first step to solving this challenge?
First step (sorry, no easy steps in changing things): Change property tax and income tax structure to reflect income and property value. Kinda Marxist, I guess.

4. What has been the biggest change that you’ve seen on Long Island during the course of your career?
Biggest change in 40 years? The highly visible evolution of commercial/industrial development seen by abandonment of developed (obsolete?) property, particularly in downtowns and old shopping centers and “taxpayer” centers; those small 6-8 storefronts with parking out front – think Jericho Turnpike/Middle Country Road.

5. What do you think Long Island will be like in 20 years?
Long Island in 20 years? I think it will look a lot nicer. Few “greenfield” properties left to develop; demolition and redevelopment of brown/greyfields will continue making these properties more attractive. Preserved land/farmland/parks-quality of life infrastructure- is in place.

Steve Jones, AICP, served as Deputy and Commissioner for the Town of Islip Department of Planning, Housing and Development from 1972 to 1983, helping to revitalize downtown Bay Shore. Jones then served as NYIT’s Vice President for Resource Development, where he oversaw the conversion of the abandoned mental asylum in Central Islip to an active campus for over 2,000 students. As Planning Director for Suffolk County, he was a key player in the creation and preservation of Long Island’s 100,000 acre Central Pine Barrens. His consolidation of both Suffolk’s Planning and Real Estate departments helped focus and target future County land acquisitions.

He served from 2000 to 2010 as the CEO of the Suffolk County Water Authority, putting his experience in open space protection to work by maintaining their critical infrastructure and water quality. In 2013, Jones received the Andrew Haswell Green award from the Metro Chapter of the American Planning Association. Currently, Jones serves as the Director of the Suffolk County Maritime Museum.