The shuttered Dowling College aviation school in Shirley could become...

The shuttered Dowling College aviation school in Shirley could become the site of an ice rink and warehouses.  Credit: Town of Brookhaven

Plans for a Shirley ice skating rink and warehouses moved forward last week after months of delays when the project's New Jersey developer agreed to changes intended to reduce traffic and noise in a residential neighborhood near the site, Brookhaven Town officials said.

Town officials had announced in February that developer Hampshire Venture Partners would build the rink and three warehouses at the shuttered Dowling College aviation school property on the east side of William Floyd Parkway. The developer also would refurbish two former Dowling athletic fields — one for baseball and softball, the other for football, lacrosse and soccer — and donate them to the town, officials said.

But some residents of Flower Hill Drive East, which runs just north of the site, objected to additional cars and trucks coming through their neighborhood.

Supervisor Dan Panico said Monday those issues were resolved when the developer agreed to drop plans for an entrance to the facility from Flower Hill Drive East. Hampshire Venture also agreed to add about 15 acres of green space between the warehouses and the neighborhood, Panico said.

“We’re sensitive to the community and we’re going to work out all the ingress and egress” to and from the site, the supervisor said, adding all traffic would enter and exit at the parkway.

Hampshire Venture also agreed to pay a $2.24 million land use fee for future open space land purchases elsewhere in Brookhaven, Panico said. Such fees are standard for large development projects, he said.

Hampshire Venture plans to buy the 105-acre site from property owner Triple Five Aviation Industries LLC, officials have said. Triple Five is asking the town board to change the site's zoning from residential to industrial.

The board may vote on the request on June 6, Panico said.

Christopher E. Kent, a Hauppauge lawyer for Triple Five, said at a town board meeting May 16 that the changes “led to a much better project and a much better proposal.” 

But the changes failed to appease some residents at the meeting who said truck traffic would harm the environment.

Taralynn Reynolds, of Shirley, said the town should plant trees on the property.

“Why can't the community have a 100-acre park?” she said. 

Consultants for the developer said they anticipated about 340 truck trips daily. They did not identify potential tenants for the site.

The project has received support from some Shirley civic and business leaders, who said the community would benefit from the rink and ballfields.

Panico and some residents have questioned whether the warehouses — with a combined 596,000 square feet of floor space — would be economically viable amid a wave of new distribution centers across Long Island. 

Councilwoman Karen Dunne Kesnig, who represents Shirley on the town board, questioned assertions by the developer's attorneys and consultants that only small trucks and vans would make pickups and deliveries at the warehouses.

“I respectfully disagree with your [saying] it’s not going to be tractor-trailers,” she said. “We don’t know what it’s going to be until it’s in there.”

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