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Ronkonkoma Hub cooperation a too-rare event on Long Island

A rendering of proposed buildings on Railroad Avenue

A rendering of proposed buildings on Railroad Avenue in the Ronkonkoma Hub project, near the Ronkonkoma Long Island Rail Road station. Credit: Tritec Real Estate

And now for something completely different: A group of Long Island municipalities has agreed to do regional planning -- together. Don't be underwhelmed by this. It's so unusual and so overdue that it bears noting and praising.

Suffolk County, Brookhaven and Islip towns, and the Long Island Rail Road have formed a regional planning alliance for the Ronkonkoma Hub development, the $475 million project to rehabilitate the area around the train station. The Hub's size, goals and location -- on the border of the two towns, just north of Islip-owned Long Island MacArthur Airport -- make it a regionally significant project. The pact calls for the planning teams from the county, towns and LIRR to meet a minimum of four times a year for discussion and planning.

We have long bemoaned the way our many layers of government exist as separate silos. No one talks to anyone else, decisions are made in municipal vacuums and development proceeds in hodgepodge fashion. That's no way to plan for a future in which we all have a stake. The agreement engineered by Democratic County Executive Steve Bellone is a sea change. Also noteworthy: Its signees include the county's two largest towns, both headed by Republicans.

To try to ensure the pact is not an anomaly, Bellone and Legis. William Lindsay III (D-Bohemia) are working on legislation to provide incentives -- substantial county grants for economic development, housing and infrastructure -- for municipalities that enter similar planning alliances for other projects of regional significance.

It's too early to say this is a trend, but not too early to be hopeful. Because we like the tune we're beginning to hear: All together now.