Midway Crossing Proposal Gets FAA Nod: A Major Leap for Ronkonkoma’s Future

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted approval to the Midway Crossing convention center proposal in Ronkonkoma, marking a significant milestone for Islip Town and Suffolk County as they forge ahead with planning, according to officials.

In a letter shared by the town, the FAA confirmed that the development proposal would not impact aircraft operations at Long Island MacArthur Airport. The proposal even envisions a walkway connecting the airport with Ronkonkoma’s Long Island Rail Road station, enhancing connectivity for the community.

The FAA’s decision stems from its determination that it lacks approval authority over the project due to the project site not being required to accommodate current or future aeronautical demand. The agency emphasized that Long Island MacArthur Airport (ISP) remains responsible for complying with federal grant assurances and associated requirements, including airspace reviews to ensure projects do not compromise aviation safety.

The project, with an estimated cost of $2.8 billion, includes the ambitious Midway Crossing initiative, calling for 2.7 million square feet of new construction. This expansive endeavor encompasses a convention center, a 300-room hotel, and health sciences facilities. The planning and construction phases are anticipated to unfold over the next 10 to 15 years.

Mitch Pally, the chair of the funding arm overseeing Midway Crossing, expressed enthusiasm, labeling the FAA’s decision as a “great step forward.” He clarified that even if approval for the proposed air terminal at the airport running parallel to Midway Crossing is delayed, the larger project would proceed, with the terminal potentially joining at a later date, emphasizing their separate timelines.

Derek Trulson, vice chairman of the project’s master developer, JLL, acknowledged hurdles on the public sector side but highlighted the FAA determination as a crucial first step, recognizing the project’s value not only to the local Long Island community but to the region as a whole.

A 2018 federal law, Section 163, narrowed the FAA’s jurisdiction over airport land, streamlining reviews and approvals for airport development projects. Islip took advantage of this legislation, applying for a formal determination last year, which the FAA granted in December.

Local lawmakers, including Suffolk County Executive Ed Romaine and Sen. Chuck Schumer, praised the FAA decision, emphasizing the anticipated economic benefits, job creation, and increased tax revenue for the county. Schumer, who advocated for federal funding for the Ronkonkoma airport, expressed satisfaction in facilitating communication between the FAA and Islip Town.

Islip Supervisor Angie Carpenter conveyed optimism, stating that the FAA decision allows the development to “take the next steps in the approval process.” Viewing the project as integral to a sustainable future for Islip, Suffolk County, and all of Long Island, Carpenter underlined the importance of the next step: initiating the environmental review process in the upcoming spring, with construction slated to commence in 2025.

Correction: It’s important to note that the proposed redevelopment of an air terminal at MacArthur Airport is a parallel project to Midway Crossing, undergoing a separate approval process.