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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Chatting with Curran

Good afternoon and welcome to The Point! We had lunch with Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and some members of her administration on Wednesday. Continue reading below to see what she shared with us.

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Daily Point

Curran’s agenda

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and her top deputies visited the Newsday editorial board Wednesday afternoon to discuss the county’s agenda in Albany, which focuses on state legislative fixes that could help to improve Nassau’s broken assessment system.

But Curran also talked about other topics, including her upcoming collective bargaining efforts with police and other municipal employees, the state of affairs at the Nassau University Medical Center and the Nassau Regional Off-Track Betting Corp.

And, of course, it wouldn’t be a conversation about Nassau County without talk of the Nassau Hub.

Curran told The Point that the county plans to release a request for expressions of interest, or RFEI, as soon as next week. It will ask developers, corporate executives and others to weigh in with broad ideas and general thoughts on what should be done with 77 acres the county owns around the Nassau Coliseum. Because it’s not asking for a detailed plan or schematics for the property, the request will have a short reply window — likely 30 to 45 days.

“It casts a very wide net,” Curran said. “I’m really hopeful we’re going to get some great ideas out of it.”

The request, Curran and Deputy County Executive Helena Williams said, comes as the county hopes to market a piece of the property to an employer in life sciences, biotechnology or related industries. That, they said, could complement the Island’s academic and medical institutions, from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory to Hofstra University’s medical school. They hope a life-sciences employer at the Hub, combined with the potential for additional development, would be enough to allow state officials to turn over $85 million in state funds earmarked for parking garages if and when there’s a “transformative” plan for the Hub.

Just in case anyone’s counting: Curran’s RFEI will be the fourth in an alphabet soup of county requests since 2005 — all of which have sought similar input on the Hub’s future.

Randi F. Marshall

Reference Point

From the archive: The road not taken

Jericho Turnpike is congested. So is Route 25A. Transportation alternatives are needed for the North Shore.

How about a 36-mile, six-lane expressway running in between the two roads, from eastern Nassau County to the William Floyd Parkway, with connections at its ends to two bridges — a Bayville-to-Westchester County span and another from Shoreham to Connecticut?

That was the problem and the solution pitched in 1967 by the Nassau-Suffolk Regional Planning Board — 51 years ago this month.

Much of the expressway presented by planning board executive director Lee Koppelman would have run along an expanded right of way of the LIRR’s Port Jefferson line, which also would have seen upgrades — the line was to be laid below ground level, its curves and grades removed, and two tracks added for two-way express service and “to accomplish 70-80 mile-an-hour speeds,” the planning board study said.

Newsday’s story said the plan was supported by county Executives Eugene Nickerson of Nassau and H. Lee Dennison of Suffolk. It also noted that Koppelman said the proposal had initial approval from the LIRR, the State Department of Public Works and the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation Authority (now the MTA), and that it had been greeted with “favorable” opinion in meetings with various village officials and the planning board chairmen of Huntington, Smithtown and Brookhaven towns.

So what happened?

Here’s a clue: The story did not mention the force of nature that has scuttled one North Shore bridge proposal after another — the public.

Given the hundreds of people who have been turning up to protest Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s proposed tunnel from the end of the Seaford-Oyster Bay Expressway to Westchester County, they’re still at it — a half-century later.

Michael Dobie


Pencil Point

Season squeezed

Pointing Out

Party hopping

A batch of resolutions was passed just before 7 p.m. by the voice vote of delegates who’d had few lunch options and were eyeing dinner.

That was how the New York State Democratic Party decided to decide on Wednesday that State Sen. Simcha Felder should be removed from the party. The ayes have it, etc.

But Felder, a registered Brooklyn Democrat who caucuses with Republicans in Albany, doesn’t seem to be at risk despite frustration with him for giving the GOP control of the chamber by one vote.

The road to legally stripping him as a registered Democrat from the voter rolls goes through his county party and party leader, Frank Seddio. However, Seddio “will not act on that resolution,” George Arzt, spokesman for the Brooklyn Democratic Party, tells The Point.

“Frank believes this resolution violates the spirit of the Democratic Party towards inclusiveness,” says Arzt.

Plenty of renegade Democrats have been tolerated in New York. A Brooklyn party insider adds that the party didn’t throw out Brooklyn Assemb. Dov Hikind for supporting Republicans for governor and U.S. Senate. Same for fellow Brooklynite Assemb. Charles Barron, who tried to form a new party. They remain registered Democrats.

But it certainly looks good for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to be able to point to a largely symbolic censure of Felder, who has rekindled the ire of progressive groups now that the Independent Democratic Conference has rejoined the mainline Democratic fold in the State Senate.

State party executive director Geoff Berman says there is some bite here: A separate resolution committing support to Felder’s primary opponent also was approved. That resolution referenced the in-kind donation of voter file access to help the opponent along.

Felder doesn’t seem too worried. According to a spokeswoman: “Senator Felder says he looks forward” to running on the Democratic, Republican, Conservative and Independence lines.

Mark Chiusano


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