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Civic leaders decry DiNapoli ruling on $50M Republic project

Groups, losing bidder accuse state of favoring a campaign contributor of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in awarding the contract to an affiliate of Talon Air, and vow to continue protests and proceed with lawsuit.

A rendering of a proposed development at Republic

A rendering of a proposed development at Republic Airport that will include new hangars, office space and aircraft parking. Photo Credit: VHB / fbonset

Civic leaders said they will continue to protest a controversial development proposal at Republic Airport in East Farmingdale, despite a state comptroller’s determination that the plan may proceed.

In a Jan. 5 determination, the office of New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli dismissed the allegation of a losing bidder that the state unfairly steered the $50 million contract to develop the five parcels at the state-owned airport to a contributor to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

“The issues raised in the protest are not of sufficient merit to overturn the contract awards,” the comptroller’s ruling said.

That finding “deeply disturbed” the Republic Civic Coalition for Integrity and Compliance, according to a statement released by the group.

“This approval indicates selective enforcement of the normal, required processes,” the statement read.

The comptroller’s decision, and the local backlash, are the latest in a protracted effort to build on 54 acres at the general aviation airport.

The state announced in February that it had awarded the contract to Stratosphere Development, an affiliate of Talon Air, to build new hangars, office space and aircraft parking there.

But local civic groups say the state did not seek adequate community input or follow required environmental review procedures in awarding the contract, among other contentions.

“The whole process was corrupt,” said Alissa Taff, president of the Civic Association of Sweet Hollow. “There’s a procedure to follow and it was not followed.”

LI Clean Tech, the losing bidder, filed suit against the state in November, alleging that Talon owner Adam Katz’s campaign contributions to Cuomo influenced the contract award.

Eliot Bloom, a partner at LI Clean Tech, said Wednesday that the lawsuit will continue.

Local outcry over the award prompted Sens. John Brooks (D-Seaford) and Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore) to write letters to the state last year requesting that the state withdraw the Request for Proposals for the project and issue a new one.

Brooks said Wednesday that he accepts the state’s recent determination.

“The comptroller reviewed it and felt the process was done within the requirements of the law,” the senator said.

Boyle’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

“The comptroller has confirmed what we’ve said all along, that the procurement process was fair, equal and transparent,” state Department of Transportation spokesman Joseph Morrissey told Newsday last week.

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