Schumer: Shift stimulus money for roads near Canon

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U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer said Monday that a planned Canon Inc. headquarters in Melville could be in jeopardy if the state does not redirect $5 million in stimulus funds to improve roads near the site. At a news conference at the Canon site on Walt Whitman Road, Schumer called on Gov. David A. Paterson and the state Department of Transportation to transfer money already authorized to other Long Island stimulus projects he said will cost less than anticipated. "We cannot and must not lose Canon," Schumer (D-N.Y.) said. He said there is "anxiety" at Canon over the situation. Paterson spokeswoman Marissa Shorenstein said last night that the state is working "to identify suitable federal funding sources for these necessary road improvements - since the project may not meet [federal stimulus] funding deadlines." A Paterson official said the governor will find the money. "We're committed to Canon and the color of money is less important," said the official, who declined to be identified. Schumer's comments come as OSI Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Melville prepares to leave Long Island for Westchester County after failing to reach agreement with officials here to consolidate operations at a single site. Long Island Association president Matthew Crosson also cited OSI at the news conference, saying: "The responsibility falls on the Paterson administration and its department of transportation to get this done. It has to be done." The proposed improvements near the Canon site would add one lane to each of the service roads between exits 48 and 49 on the Long Island Expressway. Schumer said Canon needs the road project to handle the traffic its planned $636-million North American headquarters would generate. But one Long Island economic development official predicted Canon will build its headquarters in Melville regardless of whether the service road project continues. "I don't think it's a deal breaker, but I think that seals the deal," said the official, who requested anonymity to speak candidly about the situation. Canon issued a statement saying the company "truly appreciates the support" from elected officials and hopes road funding is secured. A Canon spokesman declined to say if the company would back out of its commitment to move its headquarters to Melville if the proposed service road improvements are not built.

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