Throwing his political weight behind the sprawling Ronkonkoma Hub project, Sen. Charles Schumer pledged Monday to find federal funding for the proposed development.
"You got my attention, Brookhaven and Islip," he said while flanked by the leaders of those towns, Supervisors Mark Lesko and Phil Nolan, both Democrats, during a news conference outside the Ronkonkoma train station.
Schumer (D-N.Y.) hailed the regional project -- which would rehabilitate the train station and link it to the area near Long Island MacArthur Airport -- as a sign of "thinking smart" about growth. The project, according to its backers, could transform Suffolk County.
Last week, the Islip and Brookhaven town boards agreed to cooperate in seeking state and federal funding and improving infrastructure along the corridor north of the airport and south of the Long Island Expressway.
The collaborative effort expands the footprint of Brookhaven's initial Hub project, which aimed to turn the Ronkonkoma train station and 50 surrounding acres into a pedestrian-friendly destination with housing, and retail and office space.
Islip's involvement would increase the project to more than 100 acres and include the area below the expressway.
Schumer said he would help track down aid from federal entities, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the federal Department of Transportation. The groups would contribute to sewer improvements, revitalizing the area building stock and road upgrades.
Though he did not cite specific amounts, Schumer said he would push for federal funding of a $900,000 roundabout to be built in front of the station on Hawkins and Railroad avenues.
"We're now really thinking smart here on Long Island," Schumer said. Schumer added that while federal funding was important, state aid also was vital."This is really where the action is on Long Island," Lesko said. Brookhaven issued a request for qualifications from developers last week. The town expects to pick a master developer by December.
Lesko and Nolan both hailed the federal show of support. "We can't do it without our partner on the federal level [Schumer]," Lesko said.
"We're doing something quite, quite large," Nolan said. "We need all the help we can get.