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Islip Town OKs $11M sale of 30 acres to MTA

The Islip Town board on Tuesday approved an $11-million sale to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of 30.5 acres near the Ronkonkoma Long Island Rail Road station, which would allow the railroad to expand its storage space there for rail cars and equipment, town and railroad officials said.

The deal, which concerns property north of Long Island MacArthur Airport, must be approved by the Federal Aviation Authority and the MTA board.

The railroad currently leases 12.5 acres of town property east of the Ronkonkoma station. Under the 99-year lease signed in 1986, the LIRR pays $70,000 per year - about a third of the current market rate, airport commissioner Teresa Rizzuto said.

The railroad, which is consolidating storage sites throughout its system, approached the town about an adjacent 18-acre parcel that is currently vacant. The town offered to sell both.

Islip Supervisor Phil Nolan, who said the town is considering selling other property to generate revenue, called the potential sale "a win, win, win, win. We help [the town] financially. And we're working with the railroad on their mission of regional mass transit."

Proceeds from the sale would be divided between the town's general fund and the airport, which is managed by the town but has an independent budget. Nolan said the windfall would be a boost for the town, which laid off 37 employees last year in response to a precipitous drop in mortgage tax revenue.

Railroad spokesman Joe Calderone said consolidating storage sites would help the LIRR improve inventory management and increase efficiency in railroad operations.

The expanded Ronkonkoma yard, north of Railroad Avenue, would be used to store vehicles, track, switch parts, railroad ties, cables, utility poles and other equipment, he said.

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