After hearing a presentation from the developers tapped for the Ronkonkoma HUB project, business owners and residents alike are reacting in what can only be described as cautiously optimistic about the project.
TRITEC, who won the bid to develop the 50-plus acres of land surrounding the Ronkonkoma LIRR station into mixed residential and retail units, gave an updated presentation before a packed audience at the Ronkonkoma Chamber of Commerce general meeting at Windows on the Lake last Thursday.
More than 120 people attended the meeting, according to Ronkonkoma Chamber Secretary Kevin Hyms, including business owners concerned about how the project will impact their establishment. There are even some growing concerns about how their land will be acquired by the developers.
“I believe when the Ronkonkoma station redevelopment and sewers are completed there will be a significant boost in the surrounding area home values,” stated Brenden Burns, a sales associate for Shawn Elliott Luxury Homes in an email. “However, TRITEC failed to respond to some important questions regarding their financial capacity, how it will affect the private property acquisitions and the overall project timelines.”
Another affected property owner who wished to remain anonymous said TRITEC’s plan for the area was not the result of a committee from the impacted businesses and is the exclusive vision of TRITEC alone.
“They did a lot of designing so far without consent or input of the property owners," the email reads. Sources also say a number of small parcel owners have yet to be contacted by the developers.
In an interview with Newsday, Tom Newman, owner of World’s Gym and a commuter parking lot across from the LIRR station said he was also concerned with the lack of partnership between TRITEC and the surrounding 54-acre community.
"The property owners would like to have had guarantees of participating in the project instead of outsiders coming in, instead of uprooting these families and their livelihoods," Newman said. But according to the Newsday article, TRITEC saw a partnership with individual land owners as “very difficult.”
At the meeting, TRITEC said it would be looking to break ground on the initial phase of the $350 million project by spring of 2014, with all aspects of the construction finished by 2016. The Ronkonkoma Chamber issued a statement that it was working with TRITEC in the hope that the local community’s concerns will be addressed in the planning.
“As a Chamber of Commerce, we see the benefits of a successful Ronkonkoma HUB Project,” the statement reads. “The project can revitalize the blighted area which is now surrounding the Ronkonkoma Train station. We hear the concerns of the local business owners as well as residents from the surrounding areas who are worried about how a project of this size will affect them. We are currently working with the Master Developer and are giving our recommendations that we feel will help make the project a better fit for the community as a whole."
Meanwhile, the Islip side of the Ronkonkoma Civic Association has planned a meeting Monday at the Ronkonkoma Middle School at 7 p.m. to discuss the HUB project's impact.