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Bellone eyes $28 million for sewage upgrades, housing

At a press conference in Riverhead, Suffolk County

At a press conference in Riverhead, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, left, announces a grant of over $8 million to help upgrade the Riverhead Wastewater Treatment Plant. At his side are Riverhead councilman John Dunleavy and Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment. (Sept. 9, 2013) Credit: James Carbone

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone wants the county legislature to approve a $28-million package of grants and loan guarantees to build affordable housing and upgrade sewage treatment facilities in communities from Wyandanch to Tuckahoe.

Bellone announced the proposal Monday at the Riverhead Advanced Wastewater Treatment facility, which would be upgraded to remove more nitrogen and expanded to handle wastewater from an additional 500 housing units. The plant would get the largest single award, an $8.09 million grant and up to $4.057 million in loan guarantees, should the town be unable to borrow money at a better rate than the county could provide.

"This will go a long way to creating sustainable economic growth . . . [and] we're protecting our natural resources," Bellone said.

The county executive added that the bulk of the money would stimulate downtown redevelopment in areas across the county, and that quality affordable housing was important to attract the young people needed to contribute to future economic growth. "I believe it's critical for growth in this region," Bellone added.

The legislative committees will review the proposals and the full legislature could vote on them as soon as Oct. 8, Bellone noted.

Three separate grants totaling $2.5 million will go toward various projects in the Wyandanch Rising initiative, a $500-million redevelopment effort planned to bring in new businesses and up to 1,000 housing units in a new mixed-use downtown centered around the Long Island Rail Road station.

Each of the projects involved upgrading or building new sewage or wastewater treatment systems, or protecting the groundwater in other ways. But not all of them were multi-million-dollar programs.

One $750,000 grant will go to help cover the cost of an on-site sewage treatment plant to serve the Concern for Independent Living apartments planned for Portion Road in Lake Ronkonkoma, 59 rental units where priority will go to low-income or homeless veterans. A $578,000 grant will go to Patchogue Village to help 55 property owners near the water hook up to two low-pressure sewer pipes along River Avenue.

And, even as the town of Southampton finishes its review of a Planned Development District which would allow construction of 28 to 34 affordable housing units on 2.6 acres in Tuckahoe -- the allowable housing density is still undetermined -- the county would commit $25,000 per apartment to help cover the cost of an on-site sewage treatment plant.

Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Long Island Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said the Riverhead project would help reduce nitrogen in the Peconic Estuary, and the other projects would also reduce pollution in groundwater and waterways.

The $3.18 million grant and additional $3 million loan guarantee for Northport will help the village upgrade its sewage treatment plant, replace and relocate a deteriorating main and pump station on the bed of Northport Harbor, and line various sewer mains in the village to prevent wastewater from leaking.

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