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The not-so-sleepy suburbs

Possible site plan from developer Tritec, recommended on

Possible site plan from developer Tritec, recommended on Dec. 8, 2011, as the master developer for the Ronkonkoma Hub project. Brookhaven Town is set to approve the developer next week and Islip Town has indicated it may do the same in early 2012. Credit: Tritec

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Daily Point

Suburban czar

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone was in Westchester Wednesday on a double mission — to bolster the county executive candidacy of fellow Democrat George Latimer, and to tout Suffolk’s shared services plan.

Latimer wants to use Bellone’s plan — which is pegged to save $37 million for Suffolk and a group of towns, villages and school districts — as a model to wring more savings than the plan offered by his GOP opponent, Rob Astorino.

Bellone has emerged as Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s standard-bearer on the issue. Cuomo included such cost-savings plans in this year’s state budget in his long campaign to reduce property taxes.

Tucked into a news release from Latimer announcing Bellone’s presence at Latimer’s news conference was a mention that Bellone would be accompanied by his deputy, Jon Kaiman, who has legitimate cred when it comes to shared services from his tenure as North Hempstead Town supervisor.

The release referred to Kaiman as “Suffolk County Shared Services Czar.” Kaiman also was Cuomo’s Long Island post-Sandy storm “recovery czar.” Picture Kaiman depicted as a character in a Russian novel, an epic full of sweeping history, endless struggles and bitter betrayals set against the harsh windswept landscape of . . . suburbia.

Michael Dobie

Talking Point

Don’t be spooked by the shovels

They’re going to start digging a hole in Ronkonkoma on Halloween.

No, this isn’t a scary ghost story or a case of trick or treat. But it is a spine-tingling culmination 31 years in the making — the groundbreaking ceremony for the makeover of the Ronkonkoma Hub.

Tritec Real Estate and a whole bunch of officials will put shovels in the ground for phase one of the $538 million revitalization project. Tritec principal Robert Coughlan says the earliest Brookhaven Town plans he’s seen to regenerate the area around the Ronkonkoma train station date back to 1986, many moons and spooking nights ago.

Tritec announced Wednesday it has gotten $109.1 million in construction financing from Holliday Fenoglio Fowler for the first phase, which consists of 489 luxury apartments and townhomes. And Tritec helped resolve the issue of bids coming in above budget for work to connect the Hub to the Southwest Sewer District by agreeing to build the pump station at a cost of $6 million.

One of the last details to be worked out is the attendance of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. He wants to be there — a shovel-and-hard-hat combo running a close second to a 1932 Packard as favorite prop — but the details are still being worked out.

If he can’t make it, perhaps a stand-in could attend. Wearing a Cuomo mask. Goody bag optional.

Michael Dobie

Pencil Point


More cartoons of the day

Pointing Out

Zeldin playing defense very early

It’s somewhat unusual for House incumbents to tout their fundraising numbers 13 months before they seek re-election, but 1st District Rep. Lee Zeldin has some strategic reasons to do so.

Zeldin’s camp sent out a release Monday announcing that he has $1.16 million on hand as of Sept. 30, and raised $612,000 in the previous 12 months. It comes days after Kate Browning, who is term-limited after 12 years in the Suffolk County Legislature, announced she will seek the Democratic nomination in a bid to unseat Zeldin.

Browning, who lives in Shirley, has deep roots in Zeldin’s base, and in one of the parts of the Island where support of President Donald Trump remains strong. And as a grass-roots progressive who until recently was registered with the Working Families Party, she could appeal to anti-establishment Trump voters.

So why announce a war chest? Browning has competition in the Democratic race from Perry Gershon, a wealthy former Manhattan resident who moved his voting registration to East Hampton only in June. Gershon has raised about $500,000, and Zeldin would probably like to convince the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that it should go with deep-pockets Gershon.

Zeldin knows the 1st District is where the political ambitions of wealthy candidates, like Democrat Dave Calone and Republicans Randy Altschuler and Italo Zanzi, have gone to die.

And he’d also like to convince the DCCC he’s going to be too well-funded to waste national money trying to unseat him again. That’s going to take a lot more fundraising over the next year.

And probably a lot more news releases.

Lane Filler