Union members offered strong support for the massive Ronkonkoma Hub project Wednesday night, while some residents and Islip Town officials said they were concerned about its size and impact on schools and roads.
The $475 million Hub project centers on a proposal to build as many as 1,450 apartments, up to 195,000 square feet of retail space and 360,000 square feet of office and medical facilities on 50 acres adjacent to the Ronkonkoma train station. The majority of the development lies on the Brookhaven side of Ronkonkoma, and that town's planning department has taken the lead on the project.
Wednesday's meeting was at Islip Town Hall, where a group of residents and officials raised concerns about being left out of the review process and the project's impact on Islip.
"We have absolutely no voting capacity on this project," Islip Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt told the capacity audience. Bergin Weichbrodt was part of a joint Islip-Brookhaven design panel that selected Tritec Real Estate of East Setauket as the lead developer when the project was launched in 2011.
Councilman Steven J. Flotteron said he felt Islip has been left out of meetings on the project and presentations by Tritec. "I feel sometimes it's a fishing expedition" for information, he said.
In a phone interview, Tritec principal Robert Coughlan said "whatever concerns arise" from Islip officials would be addressed.
Islip Town planning commissioner Rich Zapolski said traffic studies have not focused on potential congestion on Islip's roads and that some of the Hub's 3,638 proposed parking spaces may be located on the Islip Town side.
"The intersections that were studied in the draft . . . are all in Brookhaven," Zapolski said. "If I'm in Islip and I want to go to the Hub to dine or to work, how am I going to get there?"
Many supporters in the audience said the Hub offers jobs and affordable housing for young families and retirees. "Future generations of Long Islanders will greatly depend on projects like this," said Kevin Harvey, a Smithtown resident and president of the Long Island Electricians Local 25 union.
Nick Delvano, who works at an elevator maintenance company in Bohemia, said the project had support beyond jobs for labor unions.
"It's blighted and it's unsafe," he said of the area around the train station.
County Legis. Tom Cilmi (R-Bay Shore) said he had reservations about the project's feasibility.
"I'm concerned about the viability of such an ambitious project," he said. "This project could yield significant results, but it also involves great risks."
Ronkonkoma resident Theresa McNamee said she worried about the effects the huge project could have on the Sachem and Connetquot school districts.
"I see burden, but I don't see benefit for Islip," she said.