LI job creation projects get $83M in grants

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announces development fund recipients Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announces development fund recipients in Albany. Long Island firms won $59.7 million last year. (Dec. 10, 2013) Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

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Across Long Island, local officials and private business owners are dusting off plans for long-desired projects and figuring out how long it will take to use new state grants to turn them into reality.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Wednesday that $83 million will go to 98 job-creation projects in Nassau and Suffolk counties through regional economic-development councils, part of more than 800 grants worth more than $715 million given out statewide.

A few of the Long Island projects were multimillion-dollar awards, such as $3.6 million allocated to build an automated wholesale grocery warehouse in western Suffolk expected to employ 400 people, and $2.5 million for a new road connecting Glen Cove's waterfront and its downtown business district.

Glen Cove Mayor Ralph Suozzi said once the roadwork is bid out, city agencies can sell land to a private developer. "The road is key to selling the land, getting it back on city tax rolls, moving the billion dollar waterfront project forward," Suozzi said in a text message. Suozzi said the project will create long- and short-term jobs and showcase Glen Cove as a waterfront community.

State Assemb. Fred W. Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) said the state is now in better financial shape and able to assist more traditional industries such as fishing and farming, health care, the arts and manufacturing facilities.

The East End Arts Council was awarded $162,000 to help promote its 2014 Winterfest, a six-week program of musical performances created to bring tourists to north and south fork wineries, hotels and restaurants.

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The Huntington Arts Council will use a $74,000 grant to expand its SPARKBOOM program -- including poetry slams, lectures and music showcases -- from the South Shore to the East End; and $800,000 will go to the Heckscher Museum of Art to add about 35,000 square feet of space. "I am delighted to see that the arts have taken center stage in this year's competition for grants from New York State," Huntington Supervisor Frank Petrone said. "Nearly one million dollars in grant funds will go a long way in advancing the Heckscher Museum's long-planned expansion and growing the Huntington Arts Council's SPARKBOOM program, both of which have drawn many thousands of arts patrons and visitors to our town."

Planting Fields Foundation in Oyster Bay will receive $250,000 to help restore its Camellia House greenhouse, built in 1917.

The list also includes more traditional job-creation projects. Peconic Landing in Southold will get $800,000 to help with construction of a $44 million building to expand its dementia care and rehabilitation program in Greenport, and Air Techniques in Melville will get $39,025 to build a classroom within its existing medical/dental device manufacturing facility.

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One large grant is going to North Hempstead, which received nearly $1.2 million for three projects: $1 million to create an alternative fuel network in town; $125,000 to expand the town's Project Independence, which helps keep seniors independent and living at home; and $58,000 toward a feasibility study on refurbishing the town's dock in Port Washington.

Tom Devaney, town grants coordinator, said he was gratified three of about a half-dozen projects they sought were awarded. "We're pretty happy with that number," he said.

In Brookhaven, the national laboratory was awarded $1 million to expand its solar array; and The Meadows at Yaphank mixed-use development received $1.5 million. John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson is getting $53,604 to train 190 workers in information technology and medical coding.

TNS Aerospace was awarded $200,000 to buy an aircraft component machine shop in West Babylon and retain 35 employees.

Riverhead got $1.3 million to help cover the costs of upgrading a sewage treatment plant in Calverton that is essential for the development of a major regional industrial park.

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Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter rushed to Albany and was still wearing boots and jeans when he arrived for the announcement of the grants. He got a chance to change for the reception at the Governor's Mansion."We've worked very hard to build relationships with all levels of state government," Walter said. "We've been working very hard to put EPCAL [the Enterprise Park at Calverton] in the forefront of everybody's mind. . . . It will change the face of eastern Suffolk and Suffolk County. People will start commuting to Calverton again."

Thousands of workers last commuted to Calverton 15 years ago, when Grumman was still building F-14 jets for the Navy at the field that is now EPCAL.

Among the LI grants

— Long Beach got $187,500 to update its comprehensive plan to increase the city’s “resilience to climate change” and become more energy efficient and environmentally sustainable. The city also received $75,000 to update its comprehensive plan.

“All of our planning documents had to be revised post-Sandy, and we're always looking for ways to make significant improvements to our infrastructure,” City Council President Scott Mandel said.

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— Babylon Town got $1.7 million toward two projects: Wyandanch Rising and transit-oriented development in East Farmingdale. $1 million will go to create an ice rink and two pedestrian bridges spanning LIRR tracks and linking downtown with Geiger Lake Park in Wyandanch. The projects are part of the town’s massive Wyandanch Rising redevelopment, which aims to revitalize the economically depressed area.

“It makes or breaks the project,” Town Supervisor Richard Schaffer said. “They’ve provided critical monies for a lot of the infrastructure and the basics that were necessary to get this moving.”

— Stony Brook University was awarded $2 million to help plan its 150,000-square-foot Innovation and Discovery Center for start-up businesses and $1.5 million for a small-business matching grant program.

"We really need more space," university president Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr. said. "We're really excited about START-UP NY. We just don't have enough space."

— Suffolk County gets a $1 million grant to cover part of the $20 million cost of a two-mile expansion of the Kings Park sewage treatment plant to the downtown business area, allowing more restaurants, bars and apartments to be built.

"You don't get anything done now without some sort of grants," Smithtown Planning Director Frank DeRubeis said. "Finances with the local governments is very tough right now because of the economy. It's been like the tail wagging the dog; we cut expenditures and don't do economic development ... that's what will turn around our local economy."

— The Cherry Grove Community Association is getting $334,863 to renovate and restore its community center and theater, a landmark for the Fire Island hamlet, which evolved to become one of the nation’s first prominent gay and lesbian communities in the 1940s.

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