Grace Industries and parent firm Haugland Group LLC, which repaired...

Grace Industries and parent firm Haugland Group LLC, which repaired the Long Beach boardwalk after superstorm Sandy, has won tax breaks for a new headquarters in Melville. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

A contractor that removed debris after superstorm Sandy, and repaired the damage it wrought on the Long Beach boardwalk and Nassau County’s largest sewage treatment plant, is planning a $17 million expansion.

Grace Industries LLC and its parent, Haugland Group LLC, want to open a new headquarters at 336 South Service Rd. in Melville. The 43,600-square-foot office would replace one in Plainview and one in Patchogue — the latter was damaged by fire this year.

The project received initial approval yesterday for tax breaks from the Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency.

Haugland executives said they need the county’s help because of increased prices for industrial properties on Long Island and lower costs in New Jersey, Connecticut and Maine, areas where the company already operates.

“We recognize that having one, national headquarters is in our best interest, and we’d like to remain on Long Island . . . But the real estate market is very challenging,” CFO John W. Reynolds told the IDA’s board of directors yesterday.

The new headquarters would add about 35 people to Haugland’s management and support staff, bringing the total to 95 jobs in Suffolk within two years. Another 350 unionized construction workers are employed on projects in multiple states, according to IDA executive director Anthony J. Catapano.

In return for this hiring commitment, the IDA yesterday awarded Haugland $908,400 in tax breaks, including a $545,800 reduction in property taxes, or a savings of 29 percent over 15 years.

After Sandy, which struck Long Island nearly five years ago, Grace Industries built an 18-foot-high concrete wall and earthen berm around the gigantic sewage treatment facility in East Rockaway, valued at $37 million, and constructed a new boardwalk with concession stands and bathrooms in Long Beach, valued at $52 million.

Another company division, Haugland Energy Group LLC, is strengthening electrical distribution systems for PSEG under a $200 million contract.

The family-owned company also operates marine terminals in Inwood and Glen Cove for recycling construction debris, a trucking company, and an electric power plant in Greenport.

Separately at the IDA board meeting, Suffolk County Legis. Robert Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) criticized the agency, alleging it has awarded larger tax breaks to businesses that have made political contributions to Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, a Democrat.

“There is something sour and something bad going on,” said Trotta, a frequent IDA critic.

IDA board member Kevin Harvey responded, “That is a disgraceful charge to make.”

The board is appointed by the county legislature, not Bellone.

Later, IDA chairman Theresa Ward told Newsday, “Political contributions in no way influence the decision-making process of the independent, volunteer board members of the IDA or how they confer economic development incentives.” She also serves as economic development commissioner in the Bellone administration.

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