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Long Island chomping at the bid
Timing is everything.
As the deadline for the state’s request for proposals on Belmont Park approached Thursday, it was no surprise when the New York Islanders confirmed that a development group called New York Arena Partners has submitted a bid to develop a “world-class sports and entertainment destination.”
But less than two hours before the 2 p.m. deadline, a surprise proposal emerged — from Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano.
Mangano pitched Belmont Park as the best Nassau County site in the competition to find a second corporate headquarters for Amazon in North America. If state officials were to go along with that idea, which is unlikely, it probably would mean withdrawing the RFP — again — and changing their minds about how the property should be used. So, was this really yet another attempt by Mangano to lure the Islanders back to Nassau Coliseum?
Mangano’s idea came as Long Island’s own mini-competition for an Amazon site unfolded Thursday, playing out during a news conference at the Long Island Association. Just before Mangano pitched Belmont, and suggested the Nassau Hub as a backup choice, his Suffolk County counterpart, Steve Bellone, had outlined his own top choice for Amazon: Heartland Town Square.
It’s shovel-ready, noted Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter. Approvals for commercial, retail and residential development are in place.
Not to be outdone, Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine was ready with his own idea: Use land at Calabro Airport in Shirley, and additional property at nearby Dowling College, now closed.
Long Island Association chief executive Kevin Law said the region would submit its various ideas to Empire State Development officials, hoping they will be considered among the many other proposals likely to come from New York City and other parts of the state.
For now, the state isn’t taking sides. But Islanders fans may want to.
Randi F. Marshall
Plumming up Plum Island
The Trump administration is talking about scaling back national monuments and opening up federal lands to drilling, mining and the like.
So it might seem like strange timing for Long Island environmentalists to rev up a campaign to turn Plum Island into a national park or national wildlife refuge.
But Plum Island was high on the hit list for a group of two dozen or so local environmentalists who traveled to Washington this week to lobby elected officials on matters like funding for Long Island Sound. And the advocates liked what they heard.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we’re on our way,” said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “But there was more dialogue and more spirit of cooperation than there was last year, or even in April.”
The group met with New York and Connecticut’s four senators and/or their staffs, the House representatives whose districts border Long Island Sound, and staffers from the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, who Esposito said asked good questions about the ramifications of protecting Plum Island.
The island was to have been sold to provide money for a new federal facility in Kansas for animal and agricultural disease research. But money for the Kansas lab has been appropriated. So Plum Island really doesn’t have to be sold anymore, and if the Senate passes a version of GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin’s legislation to suspend that mandated sale, Esposito said that would give the feds two years to study options for the island, including preservation.
And the politics of Plum Island fuel her optimism. “They want to make Zeldin happy, at least the leadership of the House does,” Esposito said. “This is extremely important to him because it’s so important to his district.”
New York heads to Puerto Rico in different planes
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio are mobilizing the state and city to aid hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.
But that’s the end of the togetherness.
Both have created separate staging grounds for the collection of nonperishable donations. Both are arranging separate ships: for Cuomo, the state ship Empire State VI, and for de Blasio, a different vessel.
And both bodies of government found some space for cargo on flights heading to the island, too. For the state, it was on a JetBlue flight. For the city, Delta delivered a shipment of mostly diapers and feminine hygiene products to San Juan.
Did the infamous feud between the two Democrats prevent their governments from even using the same delivery services for humanitarian relief? Perhaps not.
The state ship is owned by SUNY Maritime College. The city says its efforts were organized through a vendor that already manages NYC’s emergency stockpile, and officials found that using it was the fastest way to deliver supplies to Puerto Rico. That vendor has shipped food and water for the city in the past, for example, after Hurricane Harvey.
But the crisis in Puerto Rico is one way the mayor and the governor can put a positive spin on their feud. Make the donation hauls into a friendly contest. No matter whether city or state comes out on top, everyone wins.