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Long IslandPoliticsSpin Cycle

Nassau, Suffolk hubs draw hubbub at growth summit

It was the tale of Two Hubs.

In lauding smart growth and transit-friendly development during a speech Friday at Vision Long Island's Smart Growth Summit, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer focused on the proposed Ronkonkoma Hub, an effort to build A mixed-use development near the Ronkonkoma train station, as a prime example of "the kind of planning that makes sense."

"If you have development done in a smart-growth way, it'll create lots of jobs," Schumer said. "We are going to develop the Hub, and it'll be a model for smart growth. There is plenty we can do here."

Pumping federal infrastructure dollars into Long Island to cover transportation, sewers and water needs, remains critical, Schumer told a crowd of nearly 1,000 developers, government officials, local business owners and real estate executives.

"We have tremendous infrastructure needs and tremendous infrastructure unemployment," Schumer said, referring in particular to construction industries, where local unemployment is estimated at more than 30 percent.

Schumer's applause for the Ronkonkoma Hub was immediately followed by Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano's effort to gain renewed support for the Nassau Hub, a site, he noted, that has had several failed attempts at development during the past decade.

"The Hub is vitally important to Long Island, not just Nassau County," Mangano said, emphasizing his newest plan, which combines a new Nassau Coliseum with a biotechnology research park. "We have now studied all the initiatives that, quite frankly, have failed. We have not been able to come together ... It is really unacceptable."

Mangano, too, cited the need for infrastructure, noting that he is seeking state assistance for road improvements and more. If his newest plan, called Accelerate Nassau, fails, too, he said, "we have an empty building, now we have 77 empty acres and we have lost another opportunity."

2012, Mangano said, is "an important year" for the future of the Nassau Hub. 

The Long Island Regional Economic Development Council earlier this month chose the Ronkonkoma Hub as one of the "transformative" projects to be considered for state financing. While citing the importance of the Nassau Hub, the council said Mangano's proposal was not far enough along to be included in its state funding request.

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