Mitch Pally, former CEO of the Long Island Builders Institute,...

Mitch Pally, former CEO of the Long Island Builders Institute, was appointed to lead the nonprofit local development corporation, which will guide development of the Midway Crossing project in Ronkonkoma. Credit: Heather Walsh

The Town of Islip and Suffolk County have appointed a chair to the funding arm that was created to oversee the Midway Crossing air terminal and convention center proposal in Ronkonkoma.

The entities appointed Mitch Pally, former CEO of the Long Island Builders Institute, to the nonprofit local development corporation, which will guide development of the $2.8 billion project. The county approved his appointment in December and Islip formalized the move via resolution at a board meeting on Jan. 24.

The Islip Town Board voted in August to form the local development corporation to finance Midway Crossing using tax-exempt bonds and other measures.

The entity is being formed by Islip and Suffolk to oversee the Ronkonkoma project, which has won support from Long Island economists, business leaders and the tourism industry. The agency, officials said, will allow for greater flexibility in the partnership between the two municipalities "by cutting through bureaucratic 'red tape.' ''

The Midway Crossing proposal calls for 2.7 million square feet of new construction, including a convention center; a 300-room hotel; health sciences facilities; and a new air terminal at Long Island MacArthur Airport connected by a walkway to Ronkonkoma's Long Island Rail Road station. Planning and construction are expected to take 10 to 15 years. 

The LDC board will include seven directors, with three approved by Islip Town Board and three appointed by the county.

The Islip board also appointed Marc Herbst, executive director of the Long Island Contractors' Association, replacing Donald A. Rettaliata Jr., who resigned from his appointment last month. Other Islip appointees to the corporation include Brad Hemingway, executive director of the Foreign Trade Zone in Islip Town, and Frank Boulton, owner of the Long Island Ducks.

Suffolk County appointed John Durso, president of Long Island Federation of Labor, as a director in December, and, a Suffolk County spokesperson said Sarah Lansdale, economic development and planning commissioner for the county, will serve as a director ex officio.

Once the nonprofit is fully formed, the board of directors will hold regular public meetings on the Midway Crossing development, according to the county. The county has yet to name its last appointee to the LDC.

Pally told Newsday he hopes the nonprofit will hold a public meeting by the end of February. He said there will be opportunities for community participation.

"Hopefully in the end, we will be able to build a project that will benefit not only that area of Ronkonkoma but the entire Town of Islip and all of Suffolk County. It has many components to it; we hope to do the best job we can to make it happen," he said.

Herbst said he hopes the LDC will represent public views and help move the project forward "in a transparent way."

"Mitch Pally and John Durso are both outstanding leaders who are uniquely positioned to help advance Midway Crossing, a transformative project for the region," said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone in an emailed statement.

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