Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Full Monti

{The following profile was published in December 2009 in the Long Island Business News. It is a profile of Don Monti, who is the CEO of Renaissance Downtowns, who is looking to set up shop in Waterbury)

The Full Monti
by Ambrose Clancy
Published: December 4, 2009
Long Island Business News

Don Monti is in a hurry.

By his count, the development world has spent the last 60 years screwing things up, and now, somewhere north of 60 himself, he’s on a crusade to fix it all and fix it fast.

No more sprawling suburbs and the shopping meccas on which they feed. An end to the single-family, picket-fenced, ticky-tacky boxes in which post-war America boomed.

“That model isn’t broken, it’s shattered,” Monti said on the run, a favored form of communication. “We have to stop being afraid of the ‘u’ word and the ‘r’ word. Urban and rental. Get over it.”

The gospel according to Monti is smart growth – walkable, high-density downtowns with apartments above shops close to public transportation.

It means building up rather than horizontally, finding salvation by mixing the commercial with the residential. It also means encouraging galleries, boutiques and restaurants to set up shop; allowing spaces where culture can grow organically.

His passion and energy has won his company, Plainview’s Renaissance Downtowns, development deals in New Hampshire, Connecticut and here on the Island.

That same passion has won him admirers. An equal number can’t stand him.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Fire

Angry At A System They Trusted To Help Find Their Missing Son, Jan and Bill Smolinski Seek Federal Reform

Story and Photographs
By John Murray

Fire makes steel.

For Jan and Bill Smolinski a fire of angst and pain engulfed their lives after their 31 year old son Billy vanished six years ago. The fire is so hot it could shatter friendships and destroy their marriage, Left alone, the fire would consume them.

The Smolinskis chose to redirect the fire - the energy - to use it as a tool to reform the tattered system that betrayed them during their desperate search to find their son. When Billy disappeared in August 2004 the Smolinskis believed the local police would work hard to find Billy.

They were wrong.