The following is a quick hit of reporting and editorial analysis from The Foggiest Idea on the local and regional developmental issues that matter.
Published September 2nd, 2022
By Richard Murdocco
A representative of Chicago-based developer Jones Lang LaSalle told Suffolk County officials on Friday that they would be willing to scuttle a controversial arena component of the firm’s $2.8 billion Midway Crossing project for the sake of moving the rest of the Ronkonkoma development forward. The change of heart occurred during a special meeting of the Suffolk County Legislature’s Economic Development, Housing, and Planning Committee that had focused on two bills related to the project.
“JLL is willing to withdraw the sports and entertainment to allow the Legislature to move forward with a positive vote,” Newsday‘s Carl MacGowan and Brinley Hineman report John Cameron, a JLL representative, saying during the morning meeting in Hauppauge. In addition to his affiliation with JLL, Cameron is a Woodbury-based engineer and the chair of the Long Island Regional Planning Council.
Until recently, JLL was committed to building a 640,000 square foot convention center and a 9,000 seat events venue alongside retail and Life Sciences usage across from Long Island MacArthur Airport. During a previous hearing on the proposal, JLL officials stated that the project would need the Town of Islip to work successfully with New York State and federal agencies including the Federal Aviation Administration to secure significant investment dollars to fund the creation of a new northern terminal at Long Island MacArthur Airport before the project could actually take off.
The project’s arena and entertainment components have been the subject of debate since they were first proposed by the developer in 2018.
Then, The Foggiest Idea chided Suffolk County for its lack of transparency related to redevelopment efforts at the location on the pages of Newsday. In 2019, when The Foggiest Idea explored the viability of the convention center portion of the project, various local officials expressed their skepticism. This past Spring, The Foggiest Idea questioned JLL’s latest iteration of Midway, which featured a resized arena and convention center.
As recently as July, critics and supporters alike squared off about the economic viability of the proposal in Newsday and on Newsday TV.
“There’s a big what if? Can they move the terminal right next to the Long Island Rail Road?” Richard Murdocco, founder of The Foggiest Idea and a Stony Brook University development and planning professor, told Newsday at the time. “If they can’t, the project goes bust. … MacArthur Airport isn’t exactly a hotbed of aeronautical activity at this time.”
OFFICIALS: SEVERE DROUGHT ACROSS LONG ISLAND
All of Long Island has been upgraded to a severe drought status by federal monitors as lawns across the region look increasingly yellowed in the unyielding Summer sun.
With rainfall remaining scarce, the level of concern from federal monitors and local water providers is growing. This past August was the driest that the Nassau/Suffolk region experienced in 17 years – and not much additional rain is expected by forecasters in the coming days.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, a report that is produced from the communal efforts of the National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), “drought persisted or expanded across much of the Northeast,” in recent weeks. For some areas, the 90-day total rainfall deficit is as much as 6 to 9 inches below normal.
On Long Island, the Suffolk County Water Authority plans to expand a Stage 1 Water Emergency that the agency had previously declared on the East End earlier this month to all SCWA users. With the Stage 1 Emergency designation, the SCWA is asking residents to stop all irrigation activities between 12 AM and 7 AM, and refrain from all non-essential water usage.
“We still continue to see very high water consumption across SCWA’s service territory,” Szabo told Newsday as demand continues despite the dry spell. “Our storage tanks on the East End are still drained in the early morning hours but not to the dangerously low levels we saw in July and early August.”
While officials stress there is enough water supply to meet demand within the region’s vast aquifer network, they are now encouraging residents to now reduce their lawn watering until more rains come to ensure there is enough pressure for firefighting and other emergency uses.
The National Weather Service reported that 0.67 inches of rain fell in Islip this past month – making August 2022 the fourth driest on record and the driest since 2005.