The Suffolk County Legislature has approved giving $1.7 million to the Town of Babylon for work related to the town's massive redevelopment project in Wyandanch.
The money will support infrastructure improvements in the first phase of Wyandanch Rising, the town's $500 million public-private effort to revitalize the hamlet's downtown.
The project includes building a transit plaza near the Long Island Rail Road station, creating mixed-use buildings and installing a sewer line down Straight Path.
The first phase of Wyandanch Rising involves the construction of two buildings with rental units and retail space as well as a public plaza. A third building for commercial use is being designed.
The project's master developer, Albanese Organization Inc. of Garden City, has said they hope to break ground on the first apartment building in May, although town Supervisor Richard Schaffer said various infrastructure projects may push that to July.
The two apartment buildings will have 176 rental units and 37,000 square feet of retail space.
Albanese is providing the estimated $66 million cost. Affordable housing units will make up 56 percent of the first building and 65 percent of the second.
Jonathan Keyes, the town's head of downtown revitalization, said the county money will be used for improvements for the first building, such as parking, lighting and landscaping.
"By putting this money in, the county is recognizing just how important this is, not just to the Wyandanch revitalization, but how much it's going to help regionally for families and young people who live in the area," Schaffer said.
County Executive Steve Bellone said in a news release that the money will help support "critically needed affordable rental housing" as part of a project that "will create jobs and help increase the community's commercial tax base."
In related news, last week the MTA approved a request for proposals to bid out for the design of a parking garage for the LIRR's Wyandanch station. The garage will be a five-story pay facility with more than 900 spaces, said LIRR spokesman Salvatore Arena.
The town is paying the design costs, using a portion of a $6 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration, said town spokesman Kevin Bonner.
Total construction on the garage is estimated to cost $40 million, Arena said, and will be funded through the MTA's 2010-14 Capital Program.
A contract for final design and construction is expected by the end of the year, he said.