The planned second rail line between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma could mean much more to downtown Farmingdale than merely better train service to and from Penn Station.
An assembly of Long Island Rail Road and local officials convened at the historic Farmingdale train station Thursday to discuss how the area could become a hub of business and residential development.
The informal meeting included Farmingdale Mayor Ralph Ekstrand, Nassau Legis. Joseph Belesi, R-Farmingdale, Oyster Bay Councilman Anthony D. Macagnone and Long Island Rail Road President Helena Williams. A second rail line has been proposed between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma that could essentially double the amount of trains running along that 18-mile stretch.
But local officials said much more is at stake:
A "Transit Oriented Development," a residential and commercial area designed to maximize access to public transportation, would be the natural result of enhanced service on the line, Ekstrand said. Private developers would be encouraged to invest in the area around Farmingdale station, potentially bringing new retail and construction jobs and residential housing.
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Williams said similar commercial expansions have taken place all along LIRR routes as service was improved or expanded.
The area immediately around Farmingdale station already has numerous housing developments. Similar efforts are under way along the same LIRR line to the east in Wyandanch and Central Islip, officials said.
Development will ultimately rely on private developers willing to make the investments in the area, Ekstrand said.
The railroad has committed $138 million to the project for its design and environmental assessment. Construction could begin by the end of this year and the first phase of the project -- a stretch from Ronkonkoma to Central Islip, could be completed by 2016. Completion of the full 18-mile stretch is more than five years off.
The long-term benefits include service to MacArthur Airport and the potential of re-opening of a LIRR station at Republic Airport to serve the Route 110 corridor, railroad officials said.