The stars are aligning for Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center to buy and operate the former John J. Foley nursing home in Yaphank, even though it isn't the highest bidder.

The hospital has offered Suffolk County $15 million. Nursing home operator Kenneth Rozenberg bid $20 million, although commissions and fees would lower Suffolk's net to $18.9 million. And his offer would put the property on the tax rolls, bringing in about $500,000 annually. But the Town of Brookhaven has made it clear that it prefers the Brookhaven Hospital deal, and because the town controls the zoning of the property, it could make it very hard for Rozenberg's facility to ever open.

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Seventeen of the 18 county legislators who would have to vote on the sale strongly support the Brookhaven bid. More important, the legislators are in tune with the feelings in their districts and represent them in this preference. The Brookhaven Hospital offer is good in many ways. If it wins, the community would get a trusted operator offering sorely needed dialysis, mental health and drug rehab services. And while every penny counts, getting the right operation in a community for $3.9 million less money isn't going to make or break a $3 billion Suffolk County budget. But county officials fear that if the obvious support for the Brookhaven Hospital bid makes Rozenberg pull his offer, the county would have no leverage should Brookhaven Hospital start asking for price cuts as it considers what it needs to do to open the building.

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So for legislators and County Executive Steve Bellone, the work they need to do is clear. Before a deal is approved, it has to be rock solid, with due diligence on both sides and Brookhaven Hospital fully committed to the plan and price.