Courtesy of Brookhaven Town
Town prepares next BOA steps for Bellport
As Brookhaven Town officials prepare the second phase in nominating Greater Bellport to be a designated Brownfield Opportunity Area, they are seeking community input.
The nomination study is the penultimate step in the BOA program, requiring communities to analyze economic and market trends to determine what revitalization opportunities would best work in the area.
The town was awarded the $303,958 grant in January 2014. Completing the first step, town officials said, was simplified due to the Greater Bellport Land Use Plan completed in 2014. Within the 800 acres included in the nomination, there are at least 24 potential Brownfield sites.
At a community meeting at the Boys and Girls Club in Bellport last week, findings of a market analysis, housing and traffic studies were reported.
According to Kathryn Eiseman, partner at Nelson, Pope & Voorhis, a market analysis helps delve deeper into possible development ideas at three opportunity sites defined in the 2014 land use plan. “You don’t want to ever, as a planner, recommend something that isn’t feasible,” she said.
The three properties include the southeast corner of Station Road and the Sunrise Highway Service Road across from the diner, the Polymag property on Station Road, and a wooded parcel on Station Road south of the railroad tracks on the western side of the roadway that is not being developed as part of the new ambulance headquarters.
The study, conducted by the Weitzman Group of Manhattan, found that development is possible at all sites. The first site, due to its proximity to the highway, could support a 100,000-125,000-square-foot commercial center for big-box stores, while the other two sites would be better suited for smaller neighborhood centers with mixed uses of housing units, office spaces and small retail shops.
Eiseman said that the site would be marketable to developers in the long term. “It’s not quite ripe for that at this point,” she said.
Nearby, the Bellport Outlets have seen a rise in store vacancies in recent years.
The third site, however, was found to be financially viable now and would be an attractive site for mixed-use development, she said. Though Sites 2 and 3 could support similar development, the study found that it would have to be one or the other. “The economist who worked on the study felt that there would be too much competition between the two and that the market could not support that,” Eiseman said. Site 3 was honed in on due to its proximity to the Bellport railroad station, which could promote transit-oriented development.
In the 2009 Greater Bellport Sustainable Community Plan, community stakeholders called for increased train service at Bellport. To increase ridership, they also called for extending Patchogue’s fare zone that would encourage riders to use the Bellport station and reduce the fare required between the two stations. As per the 2014 Land Use Plan, town officials called for a signed pedestrian crosswalk over the train tracks, a beautification project at the station, additional lighting and an increased police presence at the station.
A traffic impact and transportation study prepared by L.K. McLean Associates showed several mitigation strategies.
Along with aesthetic improvements like planted raised medians and reduced speed limits, engineers also noted that a new industrial truck road could help alleviate heavy truck traffic along Station Road, a route many students use to get to school. The proposed roadway would extend and connect the South Service Road to Montauk Highway to ease access to Copart and other industrial uses. According to principal town planner Diane Mazarakis, constructing the 70-foot industrial road would also involve adjudicating vacant county parkland and extending the Sunrise service road. “Again, this is a long-term plan,” Mazarakis said. “If we have significant buy-in from the community, the town can begin to work on it.”
A housing market study revealed that there are already affordable single-family homes in the Bellport area, and called for other types of housing units, like multifamily apartments for both millennials and 55-plus.
Pending results of a community survey, the town would continue preparing the study, adopt it at an upcoming town board meeting, and submit all materials to the NY Department of State, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo will ultimately review for BOA designation.
The discussion again returned to the lack of sewers in the area. Extending the sewer connection has been identified in numerous planning studies as the catalyst for area development.
Mazarakis explained that the Department of Health would permit two out-of-district connections before requiring a district be formed. “The town is holding off on creating a sewer district because it would be a taxing district,” Mazarakis said. “We would loathe laying another tax on people before we have any businesses to support that.”
At the meeting, she announced that the town had recently been awarded a $30,000 state DEC planning grant that would allow town officials to prepare an engineered plan, map and report for a sewer system connecting the Greater Bellport Hamlet Center to the county’s Harrison Avenue sewage treatment plant.
“The economic revitalization of the Greater Bellport Hamlet Center relies greatly on a future connection to the sewage treatment plant,” said supervisor Ed Romaine in a press release. Romaine hopes that starting the project will spark a new sense of progress and enthusiasm for the future.
Councilman Michael Loguercio said that pursuing the sewer line has been a top priority since taking office in 2016. “[The absence of sewers] has been a deterrent to the development of new business and harmful to the environment,” Loguercio said in the release. “I expect that once the sewers are in, we’ll see a real turnaround in the local economy.”
The plan, map and report are required to be engineered before extending the sewer system can begin. The report will indicate the extension and connection of the sewer collection system, engineer the proposed collection system and indicate the terminus and course of the system and pumping stations.
Town officials are hopeful that the plan will help the community be “shovel-ready” when funding for sewers becomes available. According to a town press release, the system could potentially handle 75,000 gallons per day of wastewater from the Greater Bellport Hamlet Center and 60,000 gallons per day from Bellport Village.
Newly elected Suffolk County Legis. Rudy Sunderman has indicated that he would continue where his predecessor, Kate Browning, left off with sewering in the Mastic and Bellport areas.
In the meantime, Mazarakis said, the town would continue working on implementing the 2014 land use plan and continued code enforcement efforts that have cleaned up neighborhood blight and noncompliant auto businesses along Montauk Highway.
Citing the traffic report, in which engineers recommended constructing a bike lane along Station Road north to Long Island Avenue and south through the village to the waterfront, Mazarakis urged all community members to take an online survey to get community feedback.
“We’re really looking for some feedback on this bike lane,” Mazarakis said. “It’s a little bit of a heavy lift for the town, so we’d need to know that the community was behind it to work towards it.”
The 20-question survey covers a range of topics, both current issues and goals for the future of Greater Bellport. Eiseman, who will synthesize the results, said that community input is key to the success of the program.
The survey will remain open until Feb. 28.
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