The re-development of the Ronkonkoma Hub area around the Ronkonkoma train station will be the subject of a public hearing taking place at Brookhaven Town Hall, 1 Independence Hill in Farmingville, Thursday at 5 p.m.
The plan could bring an estimated $475 million development featuring a mix residential, commercial, hospitality, retail and entertainment among other possible uses for the area.
According to the town’s website, Thursday’s hearing will consider five actions, which include a land use plan, environmental impact statement, Ronkonkoma Hub Urban Renewal Plan, adopting a town code amendment for the district and the rezoning of the parcels to accommodate the development. Plans and concept images of the plan are also available on the town’s website. The meeting is a Brookhaven Town initiative.
The website says no votes are being made at the hearing, and the public will be able to send in written comments to the town for 30 days following it. Before the plan can be approved a final environmental impact statement has to be prepared, accepted by the town board and findings adopted. The website says that process could take into spring 2014.
Brookhaven Town has named Tritec Real Estate Company, the Setauket organization that is currently building the $100 million New Village at Patchogue in the location of the former Swezey’s Department Store, as the master developer of the project. Tritec’s COO Rob Loscalzo told Patch that his company has reached out to several of the civic organizations, and that the company envisions a number of development opportunities to bring high-quality housing and live entertainment among other ideas. The project should it go forward, would take five to seven years to develop, he said.
Loscalzo said that should the land get rezoned, Tritec will have to purchase it. He said there are about eight major landowners, with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority being the ninth. He said that the company has reached out to all of the landowners, and would like to negotiate a friendly transaction.
However attorney Saul Fenchel, who represents landowners North Fork Express and Worldwide Gym, told Patch that his clients have not as of yet received an offer from Tritec that they find reasonable. Fenchel said they are not opposed to the development, but are concerned that Brookhaven Town has the ability to give Tritec eminent domain to force a purchase. When Patch asked about that concern Loscalzo reiterated that the company’s goal is to make a friendly transaction with the landowner.
Other residents have listed safety concerns with the project itself.
Diane Mottola, a member of the Ronkonkoma Civic Association, told Patch that she is worried about the increased ridership the project would bring to the Long Island Rail Road. She said that while she is not opposing the project, that she would like the needs of those who will be living around it to be addressed. Loscalzo said the MTA does not feel the project will have a significant impact on the trains. The MTA is currently working on their own plans to expand the train station through the Double Track project, which is aiming to add another lane of tracks between Ronkonkoma and Farmingdale.
Mary Calamia wrote a letter last July into Patch stating her own concerns about possible overcrowding situations.
“We are looking at overcrowded schools; police, fire, and rescue services being stretched beyond their capabilities; drastically increased traffic and wear and tear on roads that are already impossible to navigate at certain times; and a huge burden on social services and medical facilities,” Calamia said. “The enormous weight of these ventures will fall on the shoulders of Long Island taxpayers and the environmental impact will be catastrophic.”
What are your thoughts on the plan? What would you like to see come to the Ronkonkoma Hub area? Talk about it in the comments below this story.
This story was originally published Jan. 9 at 12:17 a.m. and updated at 6:49 a.m. with additional MTA information. Updated at 11:01 a.m. to clarify that the meeting is Brookhaven Town's initiative.