County pol urges Levy to back off Legacy Village plans

The presiding officer of the Suffolk County Legislature is urging County Executive Steve Levy to move on from the controversial Legacy Village development project, saying the plan “no longer makes fiscal sense.”

County Legislator William Lindsay (D-Holbrook) said that with a sharp change in the economy over the last several years, he believes Mr. Levy should drop the project, which calls for over 1,000 housing units, a 90-room hotel, a 5,500-seat arena, retail stores, four restaurants, 70 rental apartments and 50,000 square feet of office space on 255 acres of county-owned land in Yaphank located just south of Exit 67 on the Long Island Expressway.

Mr. Lindsay said the jobs Mr. Levy has envisioned are “years and years away at best.”

“When the Legacy Village project was proposed, I supported it, saying it would provide both jobs and affordable housing,” he said. “But it is now an entirely different world. Thousands and thousands of affordable homes in Suffolk County are readily available in today’s real estate market.”

Going forward, Mr. Lindsay said the county should put the land back up for sale in order to get “the maximum amount of revenue possible for its sale.”

He has introduced legislation that would reject the sale to the proposed buyers, Legacy Village Real Estate Group, a hybrid of two major Long island development groups: Katter Development Co. and The Beechwood Organization. Mr. Levy has said the $12 million sale of the property for the development of Legacy Village could help fill a budget gap.

If Mr. Lindsay’s bill is approved, the property would instead be sold to the highest bidder at a public auction. Mr. Levy said he disagrees with Mr. Lindsay, and that he believes the project would bring much needed construction jobs to the region.

“It is quite ironic that a former labor boss like Bill Lindsay is seeking to kill over one thousand construction jobs at a time when that industry is at 30 percent unemployment,” Mr. Levy said in a statement. “Not to mention the opportunity for homeownership for our young professionals and world class entertainment and recreational facilities for all our residents.”

The Longwood School District officials have opposed Legacy Village and said it would overburden its schools. Environmentalists have argued that the land is located within the Carmans River watershed, and development would negatively effect the waterway. An environmental impact study on the project is scheduled to be completed in February. Brookhaven Town is also conducting a study on the Carmans River.

County Legislator Kate Browning, whose district includes Yaphank, said selling off some of the industrial zoned land would create “tax revenue for the schools and it could fill the budget hole.”

“The reality is we’re in dire straits,” she said. “But our decision should be based on the environmental studies.”

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