Call us crazy, but the finish line for approving the massive Heartland Town Square project is coming into view. It's time to give Heartland its heartbeat.
The Islip planning board is on track for a vote in the next few weeks. And if that goes well, Heartland would lack only approvals from the Suffolk County Planning Commission and the Islip Town board. That's progress.
Developer Gerald Wolkoff has been pitching his $4 billion dream -- 9,000 apartments, 20,000 residents, 4 million square feet of restaurants, hotels, shops, cinemas and office space on 450 acres at the Pilgrim Psychiatric Center site in Brentwood -- for 13 years. At times, his temperament has not been helpful. But credit him with perseverance. Wolkoff and town officials are down to negotiating a handful of remaining issues, the stickiest of which involve fees for such things as fire and ambulance services and for town staff needed to review the project's plans and progress. Wolkoff has said he'll pay $25 million for road improvements; the town has asked for $32 million more. There is room for sensible compromise. Get it done.
With a project this big, plenty still could go wrong. No one who must pass judgment has confronted a proposal this size and likely ever will again. Its scope alone gives pause, and it should. But 13 years is enough. And its potential benefits are many, from the housing Long Island needs to the different lifestyle Heartland offers to the tens of millions of tax dollars to benefit Brentwood's schools, well more than the district would need to educate the estimated additional 1,800 students.
Islip has done its due diligence. It needs to trust that, and say yes to Heartland.