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New health center proposed in Wyandanch

The Town of Babylon Thursday unveiled a proposal to replace a Wyandanch health center that has outgrown its space.

Supervisor Steve Bellone's plan would move the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Health Center to a new, larger building several blocks north from its current location on Straight Path. The town has two possible sites picked out, Bellone said, but one still houses a gas station. The town is negotiating with the owner but also could seize it through eminent domain.

Bellone presented his plan to the advisory board of the center, which is run by Suffolk County with services provided by Catholic Health Services.

Bellone said the town would use a nonprofit developer, National Development Council, which would use tax-exempt bonds as well as New Markets Tax Credits - a program that provides tax credits to investors to spur revitalization in economically depressed communities - to build the new facility, resulting in no additional county debt.

Bellone, who said the new center would be an "anchor" of the town's Wyandanch Rising redevelopment, said the cost of the new building would be less on a per-square-foot basis than the $670,000 per year he said the county currently pays for the 21,000 square-foot. He said construction could begin in spring 2012. The new building would be $885,000 for 30,000 square feet.

Asked about county support for the plan, Dan Aug, spokesman for County Executive Steve Levy, said, "The county has always been open-minded to an overall revitalization plan for Wyandanch, and we understood that the center would be a part of these plans. Right now, this is a work in progress."

Members of the advisory board praised the proposal and said a new facility has been needed for years. "This is a long time coming," said chairwoman Jackie Deville. "We are all ecstatic about this."

The health center, run out of a former A&P supermarket, is more than 40 years old. Deville said the center has 77 staff members, serves 40,000 patients a year, and has outgrown the space. She said more parking is needed, as well as space to allow patient privacy and further training of staff.

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