Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone will deliver his annual State of the County message May 17, and for the first time will move the event to a larger setting, Suffolk Community College’s Van Nostrand Theatre in Brentwood.
“This year we’re moving . . . to a larger venue,” Bellone said. “I look forward to sharing my ideas with our elected officials and community leaders on how we can continue moving Suffolk forward.”
Since taking office in 2012, Bellone has delivered his annual address to county lawmakers at their auditorium in Hauppauge, which can seat 155. The Van Nostrand Theatre can seat 477.
Bellone’s Republican predecessor, Steve Levy, moved the annual address from the legislative auditorium to various sites around the county, generating criticism from lawmakers and increasing security costs.
Legis. Kevin McCaffrey, Republican caucus leader, said he had no problem with changing the location to the college. McCaffrey, of Lindenhurst, noted that the legislative auditorium “is always jam packed and may not be the best of venues,” adding, “I’ll probably have more problems with what he has to say.”
Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory (D-Copiague) said Bellone informed him of his plan and understands that the event has “outgrown the space” available in Hauppauge.
Gregory said expects Bellone to be sensitive to lawmakers’ past concerns, “that they feel like almost a prop and feel diminished” rather than an equal branch of government.
The event is by invitation only, but the public can watch Bellones”s speech live on News 12 Long Island or through facebook.com/stevebellone
The Van Nostrand Theatre is located in the Bentwood campus’ Sagtikos Building. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. and guests must all be seated by 6:45 p.m. The speech begins at 7 p.m.