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A move for the Hub
Nassau officials have made it clear that they’re hoping to lure a life sciences company to county-owned property surrounding Nassau Coliseum, land known as the Hub.
Now, developer Ed Blumenfeld seems to be positioning himself as the answer to the county’s prayers.
But it’s not that simple.
Thursday, Blumenfeld said he had “secured a strategic partnership” with a “nationally respected bio medical research entity” to bring that company — which he refused to name — to the Hub.
But a letter from that company to Blumenfeld, whose contents a source shared with The Point, is less certain. The company expresses “interest” in locating a “technology research facility” at the Hub, but doesn’t suggest an exclusive arrangement with Blumenfeld. The letter adds that such a facility would have to be part of a broader “innovation district,” and that construction would have to be underway for it to move forward. Also, the letter notes that the company would require “additional funding” beyond the $85 million pledged by New York State for parking garages at the site.
“As discussed, we both understand that this is a nonbinding commitment and is subject to approval by the county and state and a fully executed agreement . . .” between Blumenfeld Development Group and the company in question, the letter said.
Blumenfeld had a right to propose development at the Hub, but the county opened the door to alternatives when it allowed its lease on the Coliseum plaza to expire in May. Since then, Nassau issued a “request for expressions of interest,” seeking developers, companies and others to propose new ideas for the site.
County spokesman Michael Martino said that request, deadlined Aug. 17, is a “confidential process which nobody should be discussing publicly.”
But sources told The Point that Blumenfeld plans to apply — and will include the letter and unveil the company involved.
Sources have suggested that Blumenfeld might take the county to court over its decision to start over, rather than solely working with him.
So, is Blumenfeld’s pronouncement that he has what the county wants another exhibit for his evidence file, or will it just lead to more delays for a sea of asphalt in desperate need of development?
Randi F. Marshall
Not easy being green
It was impossible to find Tom Croci in Albany this spring, after the state senator from Sayville announced in May that he was abandoning politics for a return to active duty in the Navy.
But it’s easy to find Croci in the 2018 environmental score card released by the New York League of Conservation Voters. He’s dead last.
Croci’s not alone among Long Island Republican lawmakers in earning a bad mark on the environment. Another recently released score card, this one from EPL/Environmental Advocates, gave its annual Oil Slick Award to Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan of Northport. And who was the 2017 Oil Slick winner? Tom Croci.
Flanagan was dinged specifically for not allowing votes on important environmental bills with bipartisan backing, and more generally “for his history of environmental neglect and his current lack of leadership on the environment . . .”
Croci, whose score of 30 percent on the NYLCV score card was the lowest among lawmakers in the Assembly and Senate regardless of party, was evaluated on votes on 13 bills on such topics as clean energy and public health. Croci was excused for three of those votes, but even if he had been present and voted yes on all three, his 46 percent score would have ranked far behind Long Island’s next lowest-scoring senator, Kemp Hannon (77 percent).
There were a number of Long Islanders at the top of the charts. Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) and Assemb. Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor), who have partnered on many pieces of environmental legislation, were recognized by the NYLCV for bipartisan leadership. And perfect scores of 100 were earned by Democratic Sens. John Brooks and Todd Kaminsky and Assembly members Christine Pellegrino, Chuck Lavine, Anthony D’Urso and Michaelle Solages, all Democrats, plus Thiele.
Those five Assembly members also were perfect in the Environmental Advocates ranking, also based on legislative votes, along with Democrats Steve Englebright, Earlene Hooper, Kimberly Jean-Pierre and Phil Ramos and Republican Andrew Raia.
The score cards are intended to be used by voters; every seat in the Assembly and Senate is on the ballot in November. With the Trump administration continuing its relentless assault on environmental protections and standards, how state lawmakers view environmental issues could be even more important this fall.
LI politics 101
Seeking the 12th Assembly District seat in a first run for office, Democrat Michael Marcantonio already has seized upon a staple of Long Island politicking: Bashing the Long Island Power Authority is usually a popular play with voters. But in a Facebook post last week, Marcantonio, a 31-year-old lawyer from Northport, seemingly attacked LIPA and the power company that handles most of its operations, PSEG Long Island, for agreeing with him.
The issue is a new rule introduced by the New York Independent System Operator, the manager of the state’s energy grid, that would require LIPA to increase its generating capacity. The change, which would boost the generation requirement from 103.5 percent of capacity to 107.5 percent, would cost ratepayers about $60 million a year, or $3 per month per household.
LIPA has long held it does not need more capacity and is fighting the rule change. Critics say the excess capacity is mostly for New York City and the Hudson River Valley, and there is no reason for Long Island to foot the bill. And LIPA’s opposition has stopped the new rule, which was scheduled to go into effect earlier this month, until the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission can rule on the dispute.
But in a Facebook post raging on the issue and linking to a Newsday story, Marcantonio wrote, “OUTRAGEOUS! When our energy bills are through the roof, LIPA and PSEG are at it again — soaking the hardworking ratepayers of Long Island to pay for the rest of the state.” He also argued, “LIPA should be disbanded.”
Even as Marcantonio is on the offensive to unseat longtime Assemb. Andrew Raia, he also is under attack.
Marcantonio is due to appear in Suffolk County Supreme Court next Friday to defend against an attempt to knock him off the ballot based on residency. Three voters have sued, claiming Marcantonio does not meet the state requirement that a candidate must have lived in the state for the past five years and in the district for the past year. They say Marcantonio was registered to vote in North Carolina from 2012 to 2015 and had his car registered there while attending Duke Law School, making him a North Carolina resident. They also allege he lives in Manhattan, where he practices law, not Northport. Marcantonio says students can legally vote where they attend school without changing residency, and he sleeps in Manhattan only at times because of the demands of his job.
Slugfests with LIPA and court battles over ballot access — Marcantonio is one rookie who’s starting off right in the thick of the political wars.