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Today's community news roundup
Another step in the Carmans River plan, a shakeup in the Smithtown highway race and more community news from this week:
$4M in federal funds for Sunday bus service
Suffolk County has cleared an important hurdle in its goal to secure nearly $4 million in federal funding for expanded Sunday bus service.
The New York Metropolitan Transit Council’s Program Finance and Administration Committee has approved giving Suffolk a $3,965,934 federal grant over three years. The Job Access Reverse Commute grant still needs to be approved by the Federal Transit Administration.
The county in May approved spending $1.1 million in new state transit aid to expand Sunday bus service, which is currently available only on two East End lines, and only during the summer months. Combined with the grant money, the new funding could pay for year-round Sunday service on at least 10 bus routes, Legis. Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk) has said.
“This is a major step closer to a significant rollout of needed Sunday bus service throughout Suffolk County,” said Schneiderman, who proposed the bill.
The county aims to have the new service in place by January. — ALFONSO A. CASTILLO
Groundbreaking for Allstate headquarters
Officials from Suffolk County and the Town of Islip broke ground Wednesday on a $23 million project in Hauppauge that will house Allstate Insurance’s regional headquarters.
“We are very proud to have Allstate join the family of businesses that have decided to locate or remain in Islip Town,” Supervisor Tom Croci said in a statement at the groundbreaking.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone praised the “hundreds of construction jobs” the project would create, and the jobs that would be retained on Long Island.
Allstate currently houses its 385 employees at four different buildings in the Hauppauge area, Islip Town officials said in March. At that time, the town’s industrial development agency approved $1.2 million in tax breaks over 15 years for the 88,000-square-foot building, a deal it said would allow the company to consolidate operations.
When completed, Allstate’s headquarters will be the third building constructed in the Hauppauge Business Park, located at 898 Veterans Memorial Hwy.— CANDICE RUUD
Three candidates decline petition designations
Several candidates for primaries in Smithtown declined their designations on a petition generated by a former town highway superintendent.
Daniel Donnelly submitted declinations for three of his four candidates on the Conservative line — town supervisor candidate Mary DeVietro, town council candidate James Ceseretti and town highway superintendent candidate Anthony Lupo Sr., said Smithtown GOP chairman Bill Ellis, who also is a deputy commissioner at the Board of Elections.
Frances Kalabza, 77, a St. James resident, is still running for town clerk on Donnelly’s petition, said Ellis, adding that Monday was the deadline to submit declinations.
Attempts to reach Donnelly and Kalabza were not immediately successful.
“It’s a disservice to those who signed the petitions,” Ellis said of the declinations. “I’m sure Mr. Donnelly had in the back of his mind to decline all of them because he’s done that in the past.”
Smithtown Conservative chairman Gary Forte said he plans to challenge the validity of signatures on Donnelly’s petition for Kalabza, who would be running against the party’s endorsed candidate, incumbent Vincent Puleo.
“The people who signed it were not really informed that the people Dan Donnelly was pushing ... were not the designated nominees of the Smithtown Conservative Party,” Forte said. “He used his prior relationship with the Smithtown Conservative Party as a guise to have these petitions signed.”
A vacancy committee on Donnelly’s petition has until Friday to fill the declinations with a substitution in person at the Board of Elections or by mail with a Friday postmark date, Ellis said.
— LAUREN R. HARRISON
Comment period for Carmans River plan
Brookhaven Town residents have at least three weeks to voice their opinions about a newly released protection plan for the Carmans River watershed.
The Brookhaven Town board unanimously passed a resolution earlier this month to draft an environmental impact statement and a 30-day comment period.
Written comments mailed to Town Hall in Farmingville will be accepted at least until Aug. 9. A public hearing on the plan will be held July 30 at 5 p.m.
A final vote on the plan is expected in October, officials said.
The planning department will hold a special public information meeting about the proposed plan at 5 p.m. on July 25 at Town Hall.
“We are looking for comments. We are looking for input. We want this to be as best understood as possible,” town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine said.
The new plan centers on buying and rezoning land near the ecologically sensitive river, which winds more than 10 miles from Middle Island to Bellport.
The town plans to use money from a dedicated open space fund to buy and preserve land near the river, officials said. The core of the watershed, with the most restrictive limitations on development, also will be expanded.
If successful, the plan will protect 1,177 acres of public land and 483 acres of private land in the watershed.
“I want to be able to vote on the plan prior to the [November] elections,” said Councilwoman Connie Kepert.
The plan is available on the town’s website.
— DEON J. HAMPTON
Hearing held on plan to develop Enterprise
Riverhead’s town board held a public hearing Tuesday night, the first step in a yearlong review of how Riverhead should develop the town-owned Enterprise Park at Calverton, a 2,300-acre site Supervisor Sean Walter said was the biggest undeveloped parcel of industrial property in the state.
The hearing was a scoping session on the 19-page draft review of what issues should be looked at as Riverhead goes ahead with its preliminary plan to subdivide the area into 50 separate lots, write a new zoning code to allow different kinds of development, and seek state and county approval that will make it easier to subdivide and sell the land.
Bob DeLuca, president of the Group for the East End, called for requiring any industry to pretreat its waste before discharging it into a sewer system, having traffic impact studies every five years and coming up with a plan to mitigate what he called “satellite sprawl” — businesses which might develop properties outside the EPCAL site just to do business with the firms located there.
Dominique Mendez of the Riverhead Neighborhood Preservation Coalition said she did not want any strip malls or big box stores at EPCAL, or any year-round houses that might bring more children into the school district. “There should be only seasonal, short-term housing,” she said.
Thomas Ferris, a representative of the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters, told the town board that he agreed with concerns about the environment, but reminded the board that the project was designed to create jobs. “I want it to look nice, but don’t put in so many roadblocks that we can’t develop the land,” he said.
The town board will take written comments on the draft plan until Tuesday at noon.
— MITCHELL FREEDMAN