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Schumer seeks federal money for Wyandanch sewer line

Sen. Charles Schumer Wednesday called on the state's Environmental Facilities Corp. to use federal money to help fund the building of a sewer line in Wyandanch.

The town of Babylon applied for $14 million for the sewer line, central to its planned $500 million "Wyandanch Rising" redevelopment, but learned recently it did not make the first round of eligibility.

Supervisor Steve Bellone estimates the sewer line - done in two phases, one for the town's ashfill, another hooking up the downtown - will cost $18 million.

The town will use $6 million from its solid waste fund and a $2-million state grant to help pay for it, he said.

Schumer warns the project is at risk of stalling if it is shut out of the $225 million in federal sewer funds he helped secure for the state.

He blamed an antiquated EFC scoring system that does not reward projects rooted in revitalization.

Bellone said the EFC is supportive but it focused on the environmental impact of putting in a sewer line and not other gains.

He estimates downtown redevelopment will create 3,000 construction jobs, 825 permanent jobs, $6.7 million in sales tax and $6 million in property tax revenue annually.

"This is a project that has tremendous benefits that result from the sewer infrastructure . . . that don't necessarily get considered in the current scoring process," Bellone said.

The EFC is revamping its system for next year, Schumer said.

Meanwhile, he urges the EFC to fund the Wyandanch project with money not used by approved applicants who do not proceed with their projects.

"This sewer line is the foundation of any future development of downtown Wyandanch and the Babylon area," Schumer said.

Bellone said the town will go forward with the first phase of sewer installation this spring, which will buy time to find money for the rest of the line.

"Make no mistake, this is definitely a setback," he said. "But we're going to move forward with sewers one way or another."

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