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Ronkonkoma Hub gets OK from Suffolk to join sewer district

An architect's rendering shows what the intersection of

An architect's rendering shows what the intersection of Hawkins and Railroad Avenue would look like upon the completion of the Ronkonkoma Hub project. Credit: TRITECH Development Group

The long-planned Ronkonkoma Hub project received approvals from the Suffolk County Legislature to join the Southwest Sewer District and pump its wastewater to Bergen Point Sewage Treatment Plant.

The 50-acre apartment and retail project near the Long Island Rail Road station, which is being developed by East Setauket-based Tritec Real Estate, will pay a $12 million connection fee to pump 400,000 gallons per day, under the agreement the legislature approved on Tuesday on a 15 to 0 vote.

In two separate votes, the legislature also signed off on the finding that there would be no significant environmental impacts from the Hub project and approved settling a legal dispute with the Village of Islandia over building a part of the sewage pipe through the village. Islandia approved the agreement this summer.

“This is finally the point we can start this project moving again,” Public Works Commissioner Gilbert Anderson said. “We can see the results of all these years of discussion and planning of transit-oriented developments.”

The project is expected to cost more than $500 million and feature 1,450 apartments and 545,000 square feet of retail and office space.

The total cost of the pipeline, force main and pumping station is $21 million to $22 million, Anderson said. The state’s Empire State Development Corporation has awarded a $4 million grant to Suffolk County to help with related costs.

Legis. Kevin McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst) expressed concern that Bergen Point could handle the additional wastewater. He worried that existing Southwest Sewer District customers would be forced to pay more than their share for sewage.

Anderson said the sewer district would make back the construction costs from future connection fees near Long Island MacArthur Airport, which could total $45 million. “As long as we don’t waive the fees. At that point we would share your concerns,” he said.

Legis. Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) questioned whether the water table would be lowered by pumping the wastewater out into the ocean instead of discharging treated groundwater into the aquifer. Anderson said the drawdown would be about 10 inches, “relatively minuscule” given that the water level fluctuates by four to five feet, depending on rainfall and storm water discharge.

Tritec did not return a request for comment Wednesday.

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