montauk highway

Suffolk County is directing $250,000 toward determining what’s needed — and what it would cost — to extend sewer lines to a long-blighted stretch of Montauk Highway in Bellport and East Patchogue.

Sewers would allow for big development along the stretch of highway that’s currently marred by vacant buildings and overgrown and empty lots. There’s also a series of bodegas and auto shops along the roadway.

In a joint announcement yesterday, county legislators Kate Browning (WF-Shirley) and Rob Colarco (D-Patchogue) called the measure a “huge step forward” in years-long efforts to revitalize the area.

“The approval of these capital funds is the beginning of a new future for North Bellport,” Browning said.

The $250,000, being allocated through county legislation, is going toward engineering and design work necessary to expand the flow of the county sewer treatment plant off County Road 101 and south of Woodside Avenue.

Officials with Brookhaven Town, which recently passed a land-use plan that would see many parcels along the corridor re-zoned to spur development, say they have been approached by builders interested in the area.

But sewering would be necessary for any large projects.

Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Connie Kepert called bringing sewers to the area “vital linchpin in the revitalization the Bellport community has envisioned and worked toward for many years.”

Calarco noted the additional infrastructure would also improve water quality on the island.

He called a sewer expansion “the missing piece of the puzzle” for the area.

One area resident and community advocate, Regina Hunt, said she was pleased to learn of the news, hoping new businesses would come to the area, though she hoped existing businesses could be included in the plans.

“Beautification is needed,” she said. “It’s all just really ugly. There’s nothing along there where you’d think, I’d really like to shop there, or I’d really like to eat there. Or even, I really want to do business there. We don’t have anything like that here. We just have too many bodegas.

“I just fear some of those auto shops will be displaced,” she added. “because you have people who’ve been there 20 years; this is their livelihoods. Maybe there are grants out there for more local people to stay involved and open up their own businesses right on Montauk Highway. That would be wonderful.”

There is no timeline being offered for when expansion work would possibly begin on the sewer plant.

Money would also be needed to fund those improvements.

Photo: An abandoned building at Montauk Highway and Doane Avenue in Bellport. (Michael White photo)