Letter: Heartland would deliver prosperity

Jerry Wolkoff, developer of Heartland Town Center, on

Jerry Wolkoff, developer of Heartland Town Center, on the site. In August 2012, Wolkoff and Islip Town were embroiled in contentious negotiations over the renewal of an agreement for payment in lieu of taxes on the $4 billion Heartland project in Brentwood. (Credit: Newsday, 2010 / Audrey C. Tiernan)

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As a developer with Gerald Wolkoff of the proposed Heartland Town Square, I was extremely disappointed to read your recent editorial, "Limit tax break for Heartland" [Aug. 31]. The editorial is riddled with misconceptions and its logic creates confusion.

The focus of the editorial should have been on the benefits that will accrue to the Brentwood Union Free School District, the Town of Islip and Suffolk County if the property is developed, rather than on the lack of a project labor agreement. To be perfectly clear, I am not anti-union. I have always worked with union labor without the necessity of a project labor agreement, and fully intend to do so in the future.

On the same day as a picture of presidential candidate Mitt Romney calling for job creation appeared on the front page of Newsday, your editorial should have championed that Heartland is projected to create approximately 1,000 construction jobs per year during its 15-year build-out, and more than 25,000 permanent jobs upon completion; additionally, that Heartland would spur millions of dollars in increased spending throughout the regional economy, as well as add millions in sales tax revenues for the county and state. The school district would gain more than $35 million annually in property taxes upon full development.

Rather than suggesting that the term of any tax benefits be shortened, Newsday should have encouraged the Town of Islip to expedite the approval of Heartland Town Square to help jump-start the local economy in these difficult times. At the end of the day, the entire region would reap enormous benefits, dwarfing any short-term real estate tax benefits that may be granted.

Howard Vingan, Edgewood

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