Three LI sites earn state brownfield designations

Brown fields matter: Gov. Andrew Cuomo has added three Long Island sites to the state's official brownfields registry.

Three blighted Long Island areas are among a dozen new statewide Brownfield Opportunity Areas announced this week by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

As BOAs, the 12 sites – including properties in Huntington, Riverhead and Southampton – will receive priority status for state grants and tax credits designed to support revitalization efforts.

“Each of these sites possesses tremendous potential for economic development and job creation,” Cuomo said in a statement announcing new opportunity areas. “These designations will equip local partners with the resources they need to implement their vision for community revitalization.”

Included in this week’s announcement was the designation of the Huntington Station Brownfield Opportunity Area in the Town of Huntington. The 640-acre area, centered around the Long Island Rail Road’s Huntington stop, is comprised of garages, surface parking lots and vacant or underutilized parcels, and is a candidate for “at least 27 potential brownfield sites,” according to the governor’s office.

Primary community-revitalization efforts at the Huntington Station site include commercially viable mixed-use development – including hospitality and retail uses – as well as streetscape improvements. Planning activities were financed by $340,000 in Brownfield Opportunity Area Program grants.

“This designation will help the town take advantage of the New York State Brownfield Cleanup Program tax credits and get preference in applying for grants and financing, which should provide significant boosts in implementing the town’s plans,” said Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone.

Also added to the state’s list of designated BOAs was the Peconic River/Route 25 Corridor BOA, a 452-acre Riverhead zone characterized by 18 potential brownfield sites. Primary revitalization objectives include “ecosystem-related tourism” along the Peconic River banks, according to the governor’s office, along with improved waterfront access and a “range of recreational opportunities,” as defined by a $567,000 BOA program planning grant.

Noting $70 million in public and private downtown-redevelopment investments “in just the last four years,” Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter noted the perfect timing of the state’s BOA study along the Peconic, saying it helped his town “continue along the path of smart development.”

Also included: the Hamlet of Riverside Brownfield Opportunity Area in the Town of Southampton. The 468-acre site contains at least 15 potential brownfield sites and, following a $236,900 BOA program planning grant, is a strong candidate for “blight removal” and new “taxable developments to alleviate the hamlet’s heavy school tax burden,” the governor’s office noted.

“The Town of Southampton is grateful for the funding, partnership and guidance provided by the New York Department of State throughout the process of preparing our Brownfield Opportunity Area Plan,” said Southampton Supervisor Jay Schneiderman. “We look forward to continued partnerships with the state, the community, property owners and developers.”

The 12 new designations bring the total number of statewide BOAs to 38. To receive a designation, sponsoring communities must compile revitalization strategies – formed in part through those planning grants – that promote sound redevelopment and enhanced environmental quality.

The state also provides a tax credit incentive to encourage private-sector cleanup of brownfield sites located within designated BOAs, as long as redevelopment is consistent with the community’s redevelopment vision or official master plan. Up to 5 percent of redevelopment costs can be covered by the tax credits.

The New York Department of State is “proud to have supported the work done by local leaders to envision a path forward in the renaissance of the Empire State,” noted New York Secretary of State Rosanna Rosado.

“Brownfield Opportunity Area designation not only signals our commitment to assisting the communities to reach their own goals for revitalization, but also provides real incentives to attract private and public investment to these blighted areas,” Rosado said.