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Smith Point Bridge gets funding in $526.3M Suffolk capital plan

A view of the Smith Point Bridge in

A view of the Smith Point Bridge in 2016. Credit: Suffolk County Public Works

The Suffolk County Legislature on Tuesday approved a $526.3 million capital spending plan for 2020 with funding for reconstruction of the aging Smith Point Bridge and renovations at the county jail in Riverhead.

The plan boosts funding for the $73 million reconstruction of the 60-year-old Smith Point Bridge, which carries about a million visitors a year to Smith Point County Park, the county’s largest park, according to the legislature's budget office.

The capital plan earmarks $14.25 million for the project over three years. The federal government is contributing $57 million.

The capital plan also includes $7 million to repair the kitchen where inmate meals are prepared at the Riverhead correctional facility. 

Altogether, the three-year plan includes $1.07 billion for capital projects, according to the legislature's Office of Budget Review.

“We need to make those investments to grow the economy and keep long-term costs down,” said Legis. Bridget Fleming (D-Sag Harbor), a member of the legislature's budget working group. 

Voting along party lines, legislators rejected a capital budget amendment by Minority Leader Tom Cilmi (R-Bay Shore) to remove all funding for Connect Long Island, a regional transportation plan along Nicolls Road, from Stony Brook to Patchogue, and Route 110 from Amityville to Halesite. 

Also Tuesday, county lawmakers:

  • Tabled a proposal to force the county attorney to enter into a new contract with nonprofit Hudson River Healthcare that runs eight of the county’s health clinics after aides to County Executive Steve Bellone requested more time to negotiate an agreement.

Company officials say the contract was finalized last year.

But Bellone aides say the agreement still is under negotiation and have asked legislators to wait another two weeks to vote. 

HRH officials said if they do not get a contract signed before July 1, they may have to issue notices to close clinics in Southampton and Coram, where contracts already have expired.

  • Tabled a proposal that would have eliminated a common check box on job applications asking applicants about their criminal history. Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory (D-Copiague), who co-sponsored the bill, said legislators were drafting an amendment to clarify that employers can ask about pending criminal charges but not past convictions.
  • Approved nearly $70,000 in grant funding to launch a body camera program for the county sheriff's department. 

The sheriff's office will purchase about 60 body cameras with funding from the state Attorney General's Office, Chief Michael Sharkey said. Deputy sheriffs in the domestic violence, civil enforcement, transport and driving while Intoxicated units will use the equipment.

The Suffolk Police Department has 10 body cameras used by a team of officers who enforce driving while intoxicated laws. The department is negotiating with unions to permit expansion of the program, Chief Stuart Cameron said. 

  • Members of the Sons and Daughters of Italy in America asked Gregory to apologize for saying last month that officials involved in a whistleblower probe were “acting like the Soprano crime family." Group members said the comments played on negative stereotypes about Italian Americans. Gregory apologized for offending anyone, but said he was defending himself against attacks. 
  • Approved the transfer of $1.25 million that had been slated for the Long Island Music Hall of Fame to the YMCA of Wyandanch Village. The Hall of Fame has pulled out of Wyandanch Rising, a downtown revitalization effort. 

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