From major court cases to new grocery stores, here’s what’s ahead for LI in 2021

Justyna Zubko-Valva with a photo of her son Thomas Valva on Feb. 6. The boy's father and his fiancee are accused of killing him.   Credit: Newsday/Cecilia Dowd

What can we say about 2021 after living through a year that no one could have predicted?

We now know there are no guarantees, that even the most time-honored traditions can be canceled and that life as we know it can quickly be vastly altered. Still, Newsday's reporters have some educated predictions about what Long Islanders can expect in the new year.

From the challenges facing businesses, schools and police departments to political changes, planned openings — including a much-anticipated new sports arena — major court cases and of course, the fight against the coronavirus, here's a preview of what 2021 could have in store.

Newsday's Steve Langford on Sunday spoke with Long Islanders about what they expect in 2021. Credit: Newsday / Raychel Brightman/Raychel Brightman

Early 2021

Sandra Lindsay, a nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, is...

Sandra Lindsay, a nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, is inoculated with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine by Dr. Michelle Chester on Dec. 14.   Credit: AP/Mark Lennihan

The vaccine rollout. The health care industry is about to undertake one of the largest projects it has ever faced when it starts to roll out, distribute and administer hundreds of millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses to help stop the worst pandemic the world has seen in a century.

Locally, health systems, pharmacies and, in time, doctors’ offices will all have vaccines developed by multiple biopharmaceutical companies, including one codeveloped by New York-based Pfizer.

The mass availability of the vaccines, however, remains months away, which means a winter of hospitals dealing with increased COVID-19 cases while elected officials and health care executives continue to message social distancing, mask wearing and vigilant hygiene.

The first wave of vaccines, which landed in New York in December, are being used to protect first responders, health care workers and nursing home patients and employees. That rollout has included shipping thousands of doses to hospital systems and pharmacy chains, namely Walgreens and CVS, which will help nursing homes vaccinate residents and workers. Medical experts said the vaccines still need to be studied to be sure it's safe for children younger than 16, pregnant women and those who are immunocompromised.

Even after the vaccines are rolled out Islandwide, the medical industry will continue to deal with the fallout of COVID-19, which includes patients who didn’t get needed care in 2020. For example, doctors said they fear more late-stage cancer diagnosis and heart issues because some patients feared visiting medical facilities due to COVID-19 — despite ad campaigns reminding patients that it was safe to do so. David Reich-Hale

Economic struggles continue. The pandemic and the deep recession it caused will still present the greatest challenge to Long Island businesses. Economists predict the first half of 2020 will be tough because consumers won’t feel comfortable venturing from their homes until the COVID-19 vaccines are widely distributed. Even then, some will be reluctant to spend, having lost jobs and savings. Consumer spending accounts for about 70% of economic activity on the Island and across the country, economists said. — James T. Madore

Towns, villages seek funds. Villages and local governments will remain in need of stimulus funding that may run out and not be extended by Congress. The Town of Hempstead’s CARES federal funding will remain under federal and local scrutiny after money is allocated and expires Dec. 30. — John Asbury

What about those 2021 weddings? Long Island’s wedding venues and catering halls will face another challenging year. Still restricted to gatherings of no more than 50 (and with the threat that the number could drop to 25 in microcluster areas) the businesses face the prospect of shuffling their calendars yet again, after filling them up with couples who rescheduled their 2020 weddings to 2021. — Daysi Calavia-Robertson

Justyna Zubko-Valva with a photo of her son Thomas Valva on...

Justyna Zubko-Valva with a photo of her son Thomas Valva on Feb. 6. The boy's father and his fiancee are accused of killing him.   Credit: Newsday/Cecilia Dowd

The Valva case. Several developments are expected in the legal case against Michael Valva and Angela Pollina, the couple accused of killing 8-year-old Thomas Valva. A hearing in the first quarter of the year is expected on at least some of the legal issues raised by Michael Valva's attorney in a motion filed in late 2020, specifically seeking to throw out the massive amounts of video and audio evidence in the case. The defense is also seeking to have Valva and Pollina tried separately. It seems doubtful their trial/trials would begin before March. — Nicole Fuller

The Manganos' sentencing. Sentencing is possible for former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and his wife, Linda, on corruption charges, though they are seeking to overturn the convictions. The Manganos were convicted in a scheme in which the former county executive helped restaurateur Harendra Singh get $20 million in indirect loan guarantees from the Town of Oyster Bay in return for bribes, including a $450,000 no-show job for Linda Mangano. No date is set for sentencing. — Robert E. Kessler

Grumman groundwater plume. The new year is likely to usher in the first significant construction work toward launching the ambitious state plan to fully contain and clean the Grumman plume of groundwater contamination beneath Bethpage and surrounding communities. The state Department of Environmental Conservation adopted its plan, estimated to cost $585 million over the first 30 years, in December 2019, but it took all of 2020 to get the responsible parties — Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Navy — to agree to conduct most of the work. The plan calls for installation of numerous hydraulic containment wells at the plume’s southern perimeter, near the Southern State Parkway, to halt the plume from reaching the public water supply in Massapequa, not to mention the Great South Bay. The plan also requires installation of numerous extraction wells within the plume, in Bethpage, to remove spots with the highest levels of contamination. Should the plan progress as expected, it would mark the first time that regulators and the polluters have all embraced a comprehensive effort to stop and eliminate the contamination that for decades was allowed to spread by a combination of half-measures, stalling and minimization. — Paul LaRocco

Death penalty decision. A government decision is expected on whether leaders of the Brentwood/Central Islip chapter of MS-13 will still face the death penalty if convicted at trial of seven murders, including that of two Brentwood teenage girls. The Trump Justice Department has said it would seek the death penalty if brothers Alexi and Jairo Saenz are convicted. Incoming President-elect Joe Biden, however, has campaigned against the death penalty. No trial date for the Saenz brothers has been set. — Robert E. Kessler

The Ronkonkoma Hub. Construction on the second phase of the $750-million project — a 53-acre, mixed-use development that includes apartments, stores, restaurants and offices — is slated to begin in 2021. Phase 2 will include 544 residential units, about 104,000 square feet of retail space and nearly 16,000 square feet of office space located a block east of Hawkins Avenue (between Union and Railroad Avenue) and extending to an LIRR train station parking lot in Ronkonkoma. — Daysi Calavia-Robertson

Town officials will need to be replaced. Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright, a Port Jefferson Station Democrat, will leave the town board after winning election in November to serve as a state Supreme Court justice. Her term starts in January. A special election will be held to fill her town board seat. A date for the election has not been set. And in Islip, town Receiver of Taxes Alexis Weik will leave her post after winning a seat in the State Senate. Islip officials have not announced how or when Weik will be replaced. — Carl MacGowan


Bill Johnson, the state-appointed monitor for the Hempstead district.

Bill Johnson, the state-appointed monitor for the Hempstead district. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

Fiscal challenges for schools. Long Island schools head into 2021 focused on the health of their students and staff, and also the health of their finances. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has warned repeatedly he may cut school aid, due in large part to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the state’s budget.

The risk was underlined recently when state monitors assigned to Long Island’s two poorest school districts issued reports showing the potential local impact of aid reductions. Hempstead estimated its loss at $28 million, compared with a total district budget of $225 million; Wyandanch estimated more than $9 million, compared with a $69 million budget.

Hempstead’s monitor, Bill Johnson, said any such action on Albany’s part could force his system to "put in place midyear reductions to take place immediately." Cuomo still hopes for federal financial relief, but not until after President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. The governor is to lay out his own 2021-22 budget and school-aid package by Jan. 19.

"I don’t know that that is so bad," Cuomo told CNN commentator David Axelrod in a recent interview. "It’s a practical pain in the neck for states that have hemorrhaged funding and can’t pay their bills. But I’ve been in that situation for a long time." — John Hildebrand

Cuomo's address. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is expected to make his State of the State address and budget presentation to the legislature remotely. The Capitol remains largely empty as a precaution against spreading COVID-19. — Michael Gormley

Nassau property assessment. Nassau property owners will receive a notice on Jan. 4 of tentative assessment for the 2022-23 tax roll, reflecting a freeze in valuations from the prior year. Residents have until March 1 to challenge those values, which affect school tax bills due in fall 2022 and general tax bills due in early 2023. The bills affect the third year of Nassau County Executive Laura Curran’s reassessment — Scott Eidler

Counting Electoral College votes before Congress. The U.S. House and Senate will convene in a joint session on Jan. 6 to count the Electoral College votes certified by each state. Once completed, lawmakers will then declare the official result of the election for president and vice president. President-elect Joe Biden, with 306 Electoral College votes, will officially be declared the winner. — Laura Figueroa Hernandez

New dynamic in State Legislature. The State Legislature returns to session mostly through the internet to a new dynamic. The Senate’s Democratic majority won a veto-proof supermajority in the fall elections. That means the Senate could join the Democratic-led Assembly to override any veto by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. But how much legislators would resort to that against a powerful governor of their own party is uncertain.

The legislature is expected to consider legalizing marijuana for recreational use and to begin to authorize sports betting. Each could provide revenue to the state, which is facing a major deficit. — Michael Gormley

Home Depot's first warehouse. Home improvement retailer Home Depot Inc. expects to open its first warehouse on Long Island to make last-mile deliveries of appliances and other big-ticket items to customers. The warehouse is in Hicksville. — James T. Madore

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris deliver remarks...

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris deliver remarks in Delaware on Nov. 7. Credit: POOL/AFP via Getty Images/ANDREW HARNIK

Inauguration Day. President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be sworn into office on Jan. 20, but what usually is a day marked with crowded celebrations, a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue and a number of luncheons and galas will likely be scaled back due to the pandemic. Tony Allen, the inauguration committee’s CEO, said in a statement, "This year’s inauguration will look different amid the pandemic, but we will honor the American inaugural traditions and engage Americans across the country while keeping everybody healthy and safe." — Laura Figueroa Hernandez

Islanders kick off new season. The 2020-21 NHL season is expected to begin in mid-January.

MTA fare, toll increases up for vote. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board is scheduled to vote on its next fare and toll increases, which aim to raise revenue by 4%. For the LIRR, the MTA will consider several options on how to change fares, including, potentially, by creating a flat fare for all trips made between Long Island and New York City. The toll and fare votes will be taken at separate meetings in January and February, and the new rates would take effect six to eight weeks later. — Alfonso Castillo

Sentencing in anti-gang activist's death. The sentencing of Ann Marie Drago, the woman convicted in the death of anti-gang activist Evelyn Rodriguez, is scheduled to happen on Jan. 14. A judge in November refused to dismiss the Patchogue woman's criminally negligent homicide conviction months after a jury found her guilty in Rodriguez's death.

Ann Marie Drago, center, leaves a courtroom in State Supreme Court...

Ann Marie Drago, center, leaves a courtroom in State Supreme Court in Central Islip on March 10.  Credit: James Carbone

Acting state Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho also declined to set aside the entire verdict from the March trial of Drago, 60. The jury found Drago, a nurse, guilty of criminal mischief and petit larceny on top of the homicide count after hearing testimony and seeing a video that showed the defendant driving over Rodriguez. It happened during a confrontation by a Brentwood memorial for the victim's slain 16-year-old daughter. — Bridget Murphy

A partnership in pizza. Restaurateur extraordinaire Frank Antonetti teams up with il capo dei tutti pizzaioli Michael Viglotti to open 1653 Pizza Company. It’s in Huntington village, a few doors down from Antonetti’s The Rust & Gold in what used to be Massa’s. The team has gutted the dining room and tuned up the coal-burning oven to fighting trim. — Erica Marcus

Ruling in Long Beach dispute. A Nassau County judge is expected to rule next year on $149 million in damages sought against the City of Long Beach for a decades-old dispute about the city revoking permits to build oceanfront condos. — John Asbury

Rezoning Hicksville. Oyster Bay is expected to rezone downtown Hicksville, a crucial step in plans to revitalize the area around the Long Island Rail Road station to create a walkable destination. The Oyster Bay Town Board is accepting public comments on the rezoning until Jan. 7, and a vote will come sometime after that. The idea of transit-oriented development in Hicksville has been developing for more than a decade and got a boost in 2017 with a $10 million state grant. — Ted Phillips


Students walk through the Stony Brook University campus on Aug. 27,...

Students walk through the Stony Brook University campus on Aug. 27, 2020. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Colleges return for spring semester. Colleges and universities are scheduled to reopen in January and February for the spring semester. The mix of in-person, remote and hybrid instruction got most of them through the fall semester without major outbreaks of COVID-19 infections. Students, staff and faculty will need to submit to COVID-19 testing requirements, and under New York State guidelines, college and university instruction must go entirely remote if 100 or 5% (whichever number is lower) of a school’s on-campus students and staff test positive for the coronavirus. Spring break will look different this semester as well. To minimize viral spread, Long Island schools are keeping students on campus by substituting scattered days off for the usual week off. — Carol Polsky

Biden’s first address to joint session of Congress. Incoming presidents, at the invitation of the speaker of the House, usually deliver their first address to a joint session of Congress in February. The date for the speech, which outlines the president’s legislative priorities, has yet to be determined. — Laura Figueroa Hernandez

Cuomo's push for aid. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo will continue to lobby hard for billions of dollars in federal aid from the Biden administration to the state, local governments, schools and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to contend with New York’s $30 billion deficit. Most of the deficit was created by the economic shutdown forced by the COVID-19 virus. — Michael Gormley

Popular Chinese restaurant comes to LI. Westchester’s vaunted Chinese restaurant O Mandarin is opening a sprawling second location in what used to be Mio Posto on Old Country Road in Hicksville. The cuisine is mostly Sichuan, with Peking duck and Cantonese dim sum thrown in for good measure. — Erica Marcus


New York State Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo elbow-bumps Nassau County Executive...

New York State Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo elbow-bumps Nassau County Executive Laura Curran to show a safe alternative to shaking hands during a news conference announcing the first confirmed case of COVID-19 on Long Island on March 5.   Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

A coronavirus milestone. New York will hit the one year mark in dealing with COVID-19. — Michael Gormley

Spota's sentencing. The sentencings of former Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota and one of his top aides, Christopher McPartland, are scheduled for March 24. Both were convicted of witness tampering, conspiracy to tamper with witnesses and obstruction of justice for helping former Suffolk Police Chief James Burke orchestrate a cover-up of Burke’s beating of a handcuffed prisoner in a police precinct in 2012. Spota and Burke each face up to 20 years in prison. — Robert E. Kessler

LIPA's future with PSEG. LIPA and its board of trustees will make a decision in March about the future of its relationship with PSEG after months of investigation and study (and a lawsuit) following PSEG’s troubled response to Tropical Storm Isaias. LIPA wants a new contract with PSEG, but if it’s unhappy with terms it may seek to become a fully municipal electric utility. — Mark Harrington

Village elections. Many villages hold their elections this month. In Babylon, a special election will take place to fill the last two years of the mayoral term following the death of Ralph Scordino, who had held the position since 2002. Currently, Mary Adams is serving as village mayor. Adams joined the board of trustees in 2016. Trustees Frank Seibert and Dominic Bencivenga will be up for election along with Anthony Cardali, who will become a trustee on Jan. 1. — Keldy Ortiz

Spring 2021

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, center, is joined by local and...

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, center, is joined by local and MTA officials to mark the elimination of the LIRR's School Street grade crossing in on Nov. 13. Credit: Barry Sloan

LIRR's Third Track project. Work is expected to be completed on the elimination of the LIRR grade crossing at South 12th Street in New Hyde Park as part of the LIRR’s Third Track project. Vehicle traffic will be permanently closed and diverted to other roads. Pedestrians will be able to cross using a new underpass. — Alfonso Castillo

Long Beach projects. Construction is also set to begin this year on two big projects in Long Beach: The Long Beach Medical Arts Pavilion, which will provide outpatient services on the barrier island, and oceanfront condos on the controversial superblock property. The most significant work is expected to occur in the spring. — John Asbury

Supermarket chain's first NY store. Asian American supermarket chain 99 Ranch Market, headquartered in Buena Park, Calif., will enter New York for the first time when it opens a store in Westbury at Samanea New York Mall (formerly the Mall at the Source) in the second quarter of 2021, said Juliet Chen, spokeswoman for the grocer. — Tory Parrish


In response to the death of George Floyd, protesters in...

In response to the death of George Floyd, protesters in Freeport march against police brutality, racism and inequality on June 2. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Police reforms due. April 1 is the deadline set by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo for local police departments to submit reform plans and have them approved by their local legislative bodies. Nassau is already moving ahead with a plan to outfit its officers with body cameras by the fall.

Police departments on Long Island and all over the state are required to evaluate their policies on use of force, crowd management, bias training and citizens' complaints, among other issues, or risk the loss of state funds.

The Cuomo administration didn't immediately provide figures on how much money could be withheld statewide. Local police often receive state grants for specific programs rather than a general grant, an analyst said.

For example, the New York Police Department gets 2% of its funding from the state, according to the Citizens Budget Commission. Cuomo said each agency must come up with a plan to "reinvent and modernize police strategies" by the deadline and a local legislative body also must approve the plan. — Nicole Fuller

Challenging state budget should pass. What may be the most difficult budget since the 2001 terrorist attacks is supposed to be passed by April 1. Without billions of dollars in federal stimulus, Cuomo said tax increases, service cuts, borrowing and even layoffs are unavoidable. — Michael Gormley

Biden's first 100 days in office. April 29 will mark the incoming president’s first 100 days in office. This time has typically been used as a bench mark of the new administration’s progress. Biden on the campaign trail has promised to focus on the coronavirus and economic recovery, while also reversing many Trump-era actions. The president-elect has said he will reenter the multinational Paris climate accord and roll back corporate tax cuts enacted under Trump in 2017. — Laura Figueroa Hernandez

Changes for the Oscars. The 93rd Academy Awards will take place much later than usual in 2021, but they will be broadcast live from the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Details have not been announced, but recognizing the damage that the pandemic has wrought on the moviemaking community, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts extended the eligibility timeline from Dec. 31 to Feb. 28, 2021, in addition to having films that premiere on streaming platforms qualify for submission. — Andy Edelstein


Riders wait on the platform at the Jamaica LIRR station.

Riders wait on the platform at the Jamaica LIRR station. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Potential LIRR service cuts. Without a federal stimulus bailout, MTA officials have said they could begin enacting several deep service cuts in May aimed at shrinking a $4.4 billion budget deficit for 2021. LIRR service could be reduced by as much as 50%, with some branches potentially eliminated and others moving to long wait times between trains. — Alfonso Castillo

Redrawing election districts. The state redistricting commission that will redraw election district lines based on the census for the State Legislature and Congress is scheduled to begin its process by releasing some proposed maps. The process is supposed to be less partisan under a referendum approved by voters. Historically, the majority parties of the Senate and Assembly have redrawn election district lines to include more of their voters in a practice that provided fewer competitive races and disadvantaged the party not in power. — Michael Gormley

A worker form a nearby construction project takes a break...

A worker form a nearby construction project takes a break on Oct 9 on the steps of the Richard Rodgers Theater, where the show Hamilton! had been playing until COVID-19 shut down Broadway last spring. Credit: Craig Ruttle

A Broadway revival? As of mid-December, Broadway productions were on pause until May 30, after being dark for 14 months due to the coronavirus. Dates for each returning and new Broadway show will be announced as individual productions determine their performance schedules. A handful of shows have already set opening dates, including the revival of "The Music Man" starring Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster, now scheduled to open in December 2021. — Andy Edelstein


Fans watch Jimmy Eat World perform at Northwell Health at...

Fans watch Jimmy Eat World perform at Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater in Wantagh. Credit: Howard Simmons

Live concerts in question. Will there be concerts this summer at Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater — or any other LI outdoor venue, for that matter? Right now, we don’t know the answer, but one can only fervently hope that the concert-free summer of 2020 won’t have to be repeated and the beach will once again host fan favorites, from Jimmy Buffett to the Dave Matthews Band. — Andy Edelstein

Another Walmart supercenter. Walmart, which has 12 stores on Long Island, will open its third local supercenter in summer or fall in a Yaphank residential and retail complex called The Boulevard, which is under development on William Floyd Parkway just north of the Long Island Expressway at Exit 68. The new, 197,484-square-foot Walmart will include a supermarket, pharmacy, auto care center and online grocery pickup, according to Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart Inc. — Tory Parrish


Nassau County Legislature Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams, center, is joined by...

Nassau County Legislature Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams, center, is joined by fellow county legislators as he announces reforms that will overhaul elections in Nassau County in August 2020.  Credit: Charles Eckert

Hearings on redistricting. Public hearings on the proposed redrawing of election district lines will be scheduled for Nassau and Suffolk counties and the five boroughs. The redistricting process will redraw election district lines for the State Legislature and Congress for the next 10 years based on the Census. — Michael Gormley

Pesticide ban. By July 1, New York will ban all use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos, which can harm the nervous systems of infants and young children. The pesticide has been linked to impaired brain development in children, harm to farmworkers and declines in pollinators such as bees. It was most commonly used on Long Island to fight cabbage maggots on cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in 2019 vetoed a bill that would have banned chlorpyrifos but said he would enact a similar ban through regulations. The state Department of Environmental Conservation is finalizing regulations to prohibit all uses by July, according to a department spokeswoman. Environmental groups said New York’s ban would follow other states, including Hawaii and California. — David Schwartz


Susan Poser will be the next president of Hofstra University.

Susan Poser will be the next president of Hofstra University. Credit: Hofstra University

New leadership at Hofstra. Hofstra University president Stuart Rabinowitz, who has led the school for nearly two decades and served there for half a century, plans to retire, effective this month. He will be succeeded by Susan Poser, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Illinois Chicago. She will become the school's first woman president.


Helicopters and planes fly in and out of the East Hampton...

Helicopters and planes fly in and out of the East Hampton Town Airport in Wainscott in 2014. Credit: Gordon M. Grant

Airport could close. East Hampton Town can opt to close the town-owned airport in Wainscott — which services ride-share helicopter passengers, CEOs and their private jets and recreational pilots — when federal mandates expire in September. The thumping of helicopter blades and roar of seaplane and jet engines, most frequent during the summer, has been a hot-button issue for years at the airport. Critics contend the facility, which is a 35-minute flight from the East End to Manhattan, brings big-city noise, but supporters said the town could lose jobs, hurt its economy and alienate some of its most influential and affluent residents. — Vera Chinese

Amazon moves into the Hamptons. Amazon will begin operating a warehouse for last-mile deliveries on the East End. The Westhampton Beach warehouse is the retailer’s fourth to open locally. — James T. Madore

Body cameras for police. Nassau County plans to have its body-worn camera program for law enforcement officers in place by Sept. 30, according to the details of a new labor agreement with the Superior Officers Association. The deal with the Police Benevolent Association, which has not been ratified, is also expected to include the use of body cameras. — Scott Eidler

Review of new election districts. Proposed new election district lines for legislative and congressional districts to be used for the next 10 years are due for public review. — Michael Gormley

9/11 anniversary. This year, Sept. 11 marks the 20th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the rest of the country.

Fall 2021

Construction continues on a planned Whole Foods, slated to open in...

Construction continues on a planned Whole Foods, slated to open in Massapequa. Credit: Johnny Milano

A new Whole Foods. Whole Foods Market will open a Massapequa supermarket in a former Babies R Us space, at 5214 Sunrise Hwy. in the Sunrise Promenade shopping center, in the fall, said Clifford Sondock, director of leasing for the shopping center’s owner, Spiegel Associates in Jericho. The Austin, Texas-based grocery chain’s 522 stores in North America and the United Kingdom include five on Long Island. — Tory Parrish

New LIRR bridges. Two grade crossings at Willis Avenue in Mineola are set to be eliminated and replaced by a rail bridge with a two-way underpass for vehicles. It’s one of eight crossings being eliminated as part of the Third Track project. Crews also expect to complete construction of a new LIRR bridge at Tanners Pond/Denton Avenue in Garden City. The 77-year-old existing bridge will be replaced. It is the last of seven bridges to be replaced or expanded as part of the Third Track project. — Alfonso Castillo

BJ's replaces Macy's. A new BJ’s Wholesale Club, which will be built on the former site of a Macy’s at 2 Veterans Memorial Hwy. in Commack, will be completed by early fall, Smithtown Planning Director Peter Hans said. Headquartered in Westborough, Massachusetts, BJ’s Wholesale Club Inc. operates 219 clubs and 149 gas stations in 17 states, including 11 stores on Long Island. — Tory Parrish

ShopRite takes over Kmart space. A new ShopRite supermarket will open in the fall in part of the space that Kmart vacated in 2019 at Huntington Commons, formerly called Big H Shopping Center. The shopping center, on New York Avenue north of the Huntington LIRR station, hasn’t had a grocery store since a Pathmark closed there in 1996. The new store will be operated by Seth Greenfield and his family, who own and operate five of the 16 grocery stores under the ShopRite name on Long Island. — Tory Parrish


An aerial view of the Belmont Park LIRR train station...

An aerial view of the Belmont Park LIRR train station and the new arena for the New York Islanders under construction at Belmont Park in November 2019. Credit: Kevin Coughlin/All Island Aerial/Kevin Coughlin

New LIRR station. The LIRR has said it expects to begin running service in October to its new Elmont Station — the first new, full-time station to be added to the system in nearly a half-century. The new station is being built on the LIRR’s Main Line, between Bellerose and Queens Village stations, about three-quarters of a mile from the new UBS Arena at Belmont Park. — Alfonso Castillo

A new hotel in Huntington. Construction of a long-proposed hotel in downtown Huntington is underway at the site of the old Town Hall building. Developer George Tsunis said a new building will go up, and the original 1910 building on Main Street and Stewart Avenue will be renovated to make way for a Hampton Inn & Suites. An October 2021 opening is expected. — Deborah S. Morris


Work continues on the seating bowl inside UBS Arena at...

Work continues on the seating bowl inside UBS Arena at Belmont Park, the new home of the Islanders, in October 2020. Credit: Howard Schnapp

The Islanders' new arena. The Islanders’ decadeslong, convoluted quest for a new, hockey-suitable home finally is expected to end in 2021 with the opening of UBS Arena at Belmont Park. The $1 billion, state-of-the-art building is projected to be ready in November, barring any further construction delays because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The arena, which will seat 17,113 for games and 18,853 for concerts, is the centerpiece of a $1.3 billion development project that also includes a hotel and retail space adjacent to the historic racetrack.

The Islanders began playing at Nassau Coliseum in 1972 and, by the 1990s, it became clear either a new building or an extensive renovation was needed. The Islanders moved to Barclays Center for the 2015-16 NHL season, but that Brooklyn arena proved ill-suited for hockey, and the team ultimately resumed playing games at the Coliseum. — Andrew Gross

The Piano Man's return. Billy Joel is scheduled to resume his Madison Square Garden residency on Nov. 5. The singer/songwriter’s monthly concert dates from March through August 2020 were originally postponed and set to take place September 2020 to February 2021 due to the pandemic. However, those rescheduled dates were moved even further into 2021. — Andy Edelstein

Suffolk plan suspended. A plan to publicly fund Suffolk County campaigns for the first time has been suspended because of coronavirus-related revenue losses. The program, which was supposed to begin in time for 2021 county races, did not have sufficient funding after primary revenue source Jake’s 58 Hotel & Casino in Islandia was closed for months during the shutdown. — Rachelle Blidner

Election Day. Both the Nassau and Suffolk county legislatures will be up for reelection, along with Nassau's county executive, clerk and comptroller, and Suffolk's sheriff and district attorney.

A new hotel in Northport. Work has resumed on Northport’s namesake hotel in the village, with hopes for a Thanksgiving 2021 opening. Construction on the 25-room, 24,677-square-foot boutique hotel had been delayed because of the pandemic. — Deborah S. Morris


Demonstrators favoring changes to the minimum wage protest at Farmingdale State...

Demonstrators favoring changes to the minimum wage protest at Farmingdale State College. Credit: Jeff Bachner

Minimum wage increases. On Dec. 31, the minimum wage on Long Island is scheduled to rise to $15 from $14 an hour under state law. In 2016, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and state lawmakers approved legislation to increase the state minimum from $9 to $15 over time, with raises implemented more quickly on Long Island and in New York City than upstate. — Victor Ocasio

Final redistricting plans. The state redistricting commission must submit its final plans for redrawing election district lines for the legislature and Congress by Dec. 31. — Michael Gormley

Late 2021

A dugout on the ballfield at Bethpage Community Park, which...

A dugout on the ballfield at Bethpage Community Park, which has been closed for many years due to contaminants. Credit: Linda Rosier

Cleanup of contaminated park. Cleanup of the contaminated ballfield at Bethpage Community Park — closed since May 2002 — is expected to be largely completed by the end of 2021. After years of delays, Northrop Grumman, whose predecessor, Grumman Aerospace, caused the pollution, last August began operating a system that heats and removes toxic volatile organic compounds from the ballfield soil. That system is expected to run into the spring. After the state Department of Environmental Conservation confirms that the contaminants have been removed, the soil with elevated levels of harmful metals and polychlorinated biphenyls, known as PCBs, also must be excavated, a process expected to take several more months. Officials, however, haven’t specified a date when the field can be returned to public use because the cleanup might be further delayed by the recent discovery of additional soil contamination beneath the park’s parking lot. The park, which Grumman used to dump toxic chemicals prior to donating the land to the Town of Oyster Bay, has come to represent the corporate and regulatory failures that created the larger groundwater contamination now spreading beneath Bethpage and surrounding communities. — Paul LaRocco

Last LIRR crossing replaced. The LIRR grade crossing on Main Street in Mineola will be the last of eight grade crossings to be eliminated along the 10-mile Third Track corridor and will be closed early in 2021. — Alfonso Castillo


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