State, County & Town Officials Stand in Solidarity with Kings Park Community Leadership & the Building Trades Council to Save 500 Jobs at the Dawn of a New Year
Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim hosted a rally before the New Year holiday alongside County Executive Steve Bellone, Assemblyman Mike Fitzpatrick, Kings Park Chamber of Commerce and Civic Associations leadership, and Union leaders in an expression of solidarity, supporting the D.E.C. Marine Resources Headquarters and new marina in the Nissequogue River State Park. The rally was held after an Article 78 proceeding was filed by the Nissequogue River State Park Foundation at the request of numerous local organizations.
“The community grew fearful that the only opinion that leadership in Albany would hear of, was that of one organization in opposition. Hence the rally to show support for this project was put in motion. The people of Kings Park have worked tirelessly to see its revitalization. This project would provide a major boost to the small business community. But most importantly, the project means a major investment in our local ecosystem. From restoring our shellfish population to providing educational programs for our youth. It’s a game changer for Kings Park.” - Supervisor Ed Wehrheim
The Article 78 proceeding could put the Kings Park community in jeopardy of losing approximately 500 construction jobs, 100 permanent positions, plus the added year round police presence in the state park. The D.E.C. Marine Resources Headquarters and new marina locating in the park would generate a tremendous economic boost to the community, which has never recovered from the closing of the State Hospital over 23 years ago.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone pointed out the far reaching impact of a project like this, in addition to having a consensus from the community in support of it.
“You have every right to disagree. You have every right to say I want something different. But that doesn’t mean that a project should be stopped. There’s a consensus here on what we need to do and we need to move forward. This project has the support of the local town government, the support of community organizations, here in Kings Park who’ve been fighting for the revitalization of the downtown in this community. It has the support of the State and the Governor and it has the support of the County. It is time to move this project forward.” - Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone
Building & Construction Trades Council of Nassau & Suffolk Counties President Matt Aracich reminded residents that the cost to stopping this project is unemployment.
“There’s already 500 jobs slated for this particular project…When a Contractor takes these projects, they take limited amounts, because they don’t want to expand their reach to the point where they can no longer perform. So the contractor says I’ve taken this job, it’s slated to go. I’ve put other projects on hold or not bid on them, because I’m doing this one. Now that’s it’s on hold, this contractor is in the position where he now has to lay people off.” - Matt Aracich, President of the Building & Construction Trades Council of Nassau & Suffolk Counties
Kings Park Chamber of Commerce President Tony Tanzi spoke to the amount of time and detail that went into the planning to construct the D.E.C. Marine Bureau Headquarters and new marina. Tanzi cited public input meetings and the State’s efforts to address and implement those ideas and concerns shared by the community.
“This started years and years ago. This was an entire community that came together to say we want better for our town. And we worked hard to get there...We subsequently went to every other organization in the community, and we asked them, how do you feel about this project? Because maybe we got it wrong. Maybe there was a larger undercurrent of people who were against this. To every organization; We’re in Favor. We’re in Favor. We’re in Favor. Kings Park deserves this. I certainly appreciate the jobs that will be created by it. But there’s such a broader reach that would happen.” - Tony Tanzi, President of Kings Park Chamber of Commerce
Plumbers Local Union #200 Business Agent Mario Mattera is also a 54 year resident of the Town of Smithtown. Mattera called out to the Men and Women who were laid off in the crowd, denouncing the last minute nature of the Article 78 proceeding.
“We have a project labor agreement with the Trades, all local people that are going to spend money in the Kings Park community every day. We are not going away. This needs to get fixed. We need to put a shovel in the ground.” - Mario Mattera, Business Agent Plumbers Local Union #200
Kings Park Civic Association President Linda Henninger spoke to the importance of a year round police presence in the park, citing a notorious record of bias crimes, and safety risks to the youth in the community.
“It’s no secret there’s trespassing, vandalism...it occurs every day; day and night since the shuttered buildings, putting young people at risk…This police presence will help support safety in the park. We’re looking out for not only Kings Park children, but everyone’s children. It’s not just Kings Park kids that go into that park and go into those buildings. It’s everybody’s all through the Town of Smithtown and beyond. The Kings Park Civic Association wholeheartedly supports this project.”
About the Project:
The Department of Environmental Conservation (D.E.C.) and the NYS Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation had plans to construct a state-of-the-art 25,000 square foot LEED green building that would serve as the headquarters for the D.E.C.'s Division of Marine Resources and plans for construction of a brand new marina. The current marina would be returned to their natural wetlands, restoring aquatic habitats for plant and marine life in the Nissequogue. The multi-million dollar investment in the Kings Park Community includes the addition of a D.E.C. Marine Enforcement Unit to provide year-round law enforcement presence at the park. The Headquarters will also serve as an FDA certified shellfish laboratory.
*A LEED green building is designed and constructed to operate with a low impact on the environment, reducing waste and using fewer resources to create a sustainable site. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a green building certification system created by the U.S. Green Building Council. It is a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement.