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Locals address board on airport, Ronkonkoma Hub transit plan

An artist's rendering of the Ronkonkoma Hub, which

An artist's rendering of the Ronkonkoma Hub, which could create a new downtown area in the town. Credit: Handout

Some residents spoke out at Tuesday’s Islip Town board meeting against the town’s application for a state grant to study the feasibility of a people-mover connecting Long Island MacArthur Airport with the upcoming Ronkonkoma transit-oriented development project.

Civic leader Larry Farrell said there are so many projects happening around Ronkonkoma that local groups are feeling overwhelmed and excluded from the planning process.

“We want to put them all into one project,” said Farrell, a board member of the Ronkonkoma Civic Association. “We’re requesting a comprehensive plan,” as well as more input, he said.

Town officials have begun an application for transformative grant funding from the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council for the people mover, which would be part of the Ronkonkoma Hub development.

Proponents say the people mover, a type of rapid transit system, would seamlessly connect air travelers with the Ronkonkoma train station, nearby hotels and the downtown.
Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt said she was concerned about “putting the cart before the horse.”

“Perhaps the community doesn’t want a people mover. Perhaps there’s no need for a people mover,” she said.

Helming his first board meeting since Supervisor Tom Croci left for military service, acting supervisor Eric Hofmeister said the application is due on Monday and the $900,000 state grant, if awarded, can always be rejected by the town board.

“Any way you look at it, it comes from another pocket of our residents,” Councilman Anthony Senft said of the grant money. He requested more information “before I sign off on spending a million dollars of their money.” The board voted to pass the resolution with only Senft opposing.

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