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Islip board opens way to lead Hub developer

The Ronkonkoma Hub took a key step forward Tuesday when the Islip Town Board voted to authorize the supervisor to begin negotiations that could make Tritec Real Estate the master developer of the entire $350 million mixed-use project.

The vote came on the day the Suffolk County Legislature approved $21 million for a sewage treatment plant that would facilitate work on the Hub project, which would encompass parts of Islip and Brookhaven.

The 50-acre project would transform the area around the Ronkonkoma Long Island Rail Road depot into a pedestrian-friendly commercial district and eventually link the train station to the nearby Long Island MacArthur Airport.

Brookhaven Supervisor Mark Lesko applauded the decision to consider Setauket-based Tritec last week, when Islip officials announced the vote. "This is obviously big news, but it's also historic," he said then. "Two towns in a municipal agreement and also using the same master developer, it broadens the impact of this project tremendously."

Islip Town spokeswoman Inez Birbiglia said last week that the resolution allows Supervisor Tom Croci to begin talks with Tritec and that the town is keeping its options open. But after the Brookhaven Town Board chose Tritec as their master developer on the Hub project in February, it was widely expected Islip would do the same, especially after the two towns forged an intermunicipal agreement last fall to collaborate on the Hub.

The two-town effort also got a nod from the state, which doled out $4 million in transformative funds as part of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council grants awarded in December.

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