Thursday, March 15, 2018

Suffolk County:  What About Us?

So last night I ventured out to a function much like ones I had visited years ago.  A public display of proposals for improvement of our region by prominent engineers, designers and investors.  Each group looking to come up with a plan that would enhance the already approved Ronkonkoma Hub development.  You see in Suffolk, we STILL have large parcels of undeveloped land.  Although when looking at the very impressive model of the final Ronkonkoma Hub plan with it's beautiful street arches, spired center piece, 14,500 residential units, restaurant and retail space, I was left shocked when I asked how many acres the magnificent project was occupying.  It's about five to six acres.  THAT'S IT.

Even more shocking?  The density is less than that of the Patchogue redevelopment which we know has done wonders for that downtown area.  Yes, Bay Shore and Patchogue have been turned around in my lifetime.  I didn't expect it.  But there they are.  Trendy, cool destinations well designed with the next generation in mind.

But I digress.  So now Suffolk has turned it's eyes (for the past few years) to the next project area; the large swath of property by the Ronkonkoma train station that would be on the other side of the Hub.  But what to do with it?

One plan proposed was to mirror the development with MORE residential units and offices.  That plan left me shaking my head.  Too big.  Too much.  Another plan had three different concepts that seemed like someone took out Legos and just tried to see what fit together.  I wasn't that impressed.

But for me, one project possibility stood out because it seemed so desirable, so perfectly complimentary, so .... so... familiar.  The key project elements that the Ronkonkoma Vision Project, LLC presented last night were all the things so many of us wanted to see for Long Island in Nassau County.  A new convention center, a sports Medicine center, a cultural center and a 17,500 seat entertainment arena.

WHAAAATTTTT?????  An NHL size arena in Suffolk County?  Within walking distance to a railway?  Within a stone's throw of an airport?  Be still my heart!!!  But there it was.  A rendering of a rounded out rectangle that looks like Tupperware but would house ICE.  NHL ICE.  And as an added bonus, more ice for the public and for practice facilities.  I immediately thought of what I had seen in Columbus and New Jersey.

Why you may ask?  Why not I counter.  Why was Suffolk County never in the mix for a new home for the ONE professional sports team in the region?  WHY?  So, why not?  Would finding a new home in Suffolk have been better than the Brooklyn experiment? I believe so. Would Suffolk work better than the Belmont proposal?  For me, oh hell yeah! Even though right now the Islanders are like an estranged ex-husband.  I still have feelings, but they just annoy me.  But maybe I could love again.

If this project proposal is chosen for the development of the area, it has impressive members:  JLL, Spectra (Comcast), HRA Rubenstein, Cameron Engineering.  Photos of past, profitable, projects are impressive.  If I can get my phone to work, maybe I'll be able to share some!