Smithtown Town Hall is seen in 2019. Smithtown leaders are...

Smithtown Town Hall is seen in 2019. Smithtown leaders are urging the state Comptroller's office to expedite its review of the Kings Park Business District sewer project. Credit: Danielle Silverman

Smithtown leaders this week asked the New York State Comptroller for expedited review of a plan to sewer the hamlet downtown.

To keep the project timeline, which calls for work to begin this summer and finish by spring 2025, that review must finish by Feb. 1, according to the Dec. 28 letter shared with Newsday, signed by Smithtown Supervisor Edward Wehrheim, Kings Park Chamber of Commerce president Tony Tanzi and Kings Park Civic Association president Linda Henninger.

The comptroller’s office, which must approve sewer district extensions in the state that meet certain per-property cost thresholds, is reviewing the Kings Park plan, said a spokeswoman, Tania Lopez.

Kings Park residents who live within the proposed extension area on Dec. 14 voted overwhelmingly to grow a system already covering part of the hamlet to also cover 114 parcels around Main Street and the 144-unit Kings Wood cooperative community. The extension will replace septics now in use in the area that are subject to strict wastewater limits, allowing for new or expanded commercial uses like restaurants, bars and cafes, along with new apartments.

Sewer advocates say those so-called "wet uses" will bring customers for other businesses, creating a virtuous circle that lifts depressed commercial rents in the area while encouraging landlords to improve Main Street’s aging buildings.

The area has struggled since the closure, more than 26 years ago, of the Kings Park Psychiatric Center, then the area’s largest employer. Tanzi and Henninger in 2015 supported a community-based visioning process for redevelopment. In 2017, partly because of the success of that work, Gov. Andrew Cuomo committed $20 million for the sewering. That money is expected to cover most of the project cost, though sewer customers will be responsible for their own hookup and service charges.

In a text message, Henninger said the project would be "transformational for our downtown in a very good way."

Tanzi, in a news release, said, "We are now poised to break ground on a project that everyone agrees will be an historic game changer for our community. We are very thankful, and look forward to working with Comptroller [Thomas] DiNapoli to see the approval by his office is issued as quickly as possible.

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