Bait and Switch at Suffolk County Landbank Solar Farm
In March 2016, Ecological Engineering of Long Island (EELI) answered the Suffolk County Landbank Corporation’s (SCLB) request for proposals to redevelop the former Steck-Philbin landfill in Kings Park. EELI proposed to bioremediate the site using an EPA-approved phytoremediation capping technique and construct Long Island’s first community-owned solar farm. The 6-megawatt facility was to be financed using framework as set by the U.S. Department of Energy’s “Guide to Community Solar”. EELI, with its nearly decade’s worth of experience developing solar power on Long Island, had a growing number interested investors. (see attached proposal abstract)
However, in May 2016, the SCLB selected a proposal by Powercrush, Inc. and Vision Associate LLC to construct a 4-megawatt solar farm on the property. Powercrush is a sand and gravel supplier conducting business at 140 Old Northport Road – they had no previous solar experience. It was difficult to ascertain what sort of business Vision Associates was involved in, as they had neither a website and nor a listed phone number.
While the SCLB was curiously uncooperative with our FOIL requests, we discovered from news sources and through our own investigation that Toby Carlson, owner of Powercrush and of multiple other businesses operating out of 140 Old Northport Road, had donated more than $50,000 to local politics in recent years. We also learned that Michael Rosato of Vision Associates LLC was Suffolk County Legislator Robert Trotta’s campaign manager. (see attached documents.)
EELI argued at the time that Powercrush and Vision Associates had no experience with solar development and most likely were not going to build the solar farm described in their SCLB-approved proposal. Nevertheless, the Suffolk County Legislature awarded them the parcel by approving the proposal with Legislator Trotta recusing himself.
By December 2016, Powercrush and Vision Associates had already sought from the SCLB the right to pursue “non-solar” uses for the property. The SCLB supported that request and on March 28, 2017 the Suffolk County Legislature approved the ambiguous non-solar land use proposal with Legislator Trotta again recusing himself. (see attached vote sheet)
If the selected bidder is unwilling or unable to develop the land in accordance with their proposal, then their bid should be voided. Powercrush and Vision Associates were awarded this parcel based on their plan to construct a 4-megawatt solar farm. EELI contends that Powercrush and Vision Associates had neither the ability nor the good-faith intention to build a solar farm and that the Suffolk County Landbank was either willingly complicit or, at a minimum, completely inept during this process.
EELI is seeking the immediate termination of the Powercrush contract and for an independent investigation into the Suffolk County Landbank’s operations regarding the proposed development of public and tax-delinquent properties.
Successfull Blood Drive
Pam, Gary and Sarah Powell would like to thank all those who contributed in making the 1st Annual Zachary Powell Blood Drive an enormous success!
The blood drive was held Saturday, April 15, at the East Moriches Fire Department. Our goal was to meet Zachary’s Eagle Scout Service Project accomplishment of 50 pints. With the communitie’ overwhelming love and support, we collected 94 pints on Saturday alone! Biodex Medical Systems, Inc. also held a blood drive at their facility in Shirley, where an additional 24 pints of blood were donated. Together, 118 pints were collected in the loving memory of Zachary.
Thank you to all those who made blood donations. For those who tried to make a donation, but could not, thank you for trying. We are so grateful!
Thank you to all those who organized the event, volunteered their time and helped spread the word… whether it was by posting a flyer, sending out an email, making a phone call, or posting an ad. We could not have done it without you!
Thank you also, to those who gave from their heart, and donated items for the raffle. A special thanks to: Mama Lisa Restaurant (Mastic), Rhumba (Hampton Bays), Rhum (Patchogue), Sugar Daddy’s Toy Store (Westhampton Beach), and Isabelle Alexander from the Long Island Blood Center who generously donated Long Island Ducks tickets.
Whatever your contribution, it was so very appreciated and truly made this event so successful.
If you would like to continue donating in memory of Zachary throughout the year, his “forever” group code is 69260, which can be provided to the LI Blood Center staff at the time of registering/donating.
The 2nd Annual Zachary Powell Blood Drive will be held Saturday, April 14, 2018. Please mark your calendars – we look forward to seeing you there for another successful event!
Pam, Gary and Sarah Powell