SMITHTOWN - Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone on Wednesday delivered his State of the County address.
In his first State of the County address since taking his second term in office, Bellone targeted a pair of issues he said are threatening the health of residents and the viability of the county in the future.
His No. 1 priority is ending the deterioration of Suffolk's water quality, he said. Bellone is calling for a referendum that would ask voters to consider a surcharge on water usage, which would be used to fund the creation of sewers and septic systems, ultimately decreasing nitrogen pollution in the county's surrounding waterways and aquifers below ground.
Bellone said the county's lawmakers must consider ways to keep young people on Long Island. As part of what he called an innovation zone, Bellone wants to transform Nicolls Road to include a rapid-transit system that could connect points extending from the North Shore down to Patchogue, as well as multiple links to the Long Island Rail Road.
The county executive also wants to expand the Ronkonkoma hub project, build a "train to plane" terminal allowing passengers to take the LIRR to and from MacArthur Airport and push the Yaphank train station back a mile to connect with Brookhaven National Lab.
In order for the water surcharge referendum to appear on the ballot this summer, the state and county legislatures would have to vote to make it happen.
Meanwhile, in the Republican response to Bellone's address, Legislator Ken McCaffrey charged Bellone with downplaying what he believes are two of the biggest issues the county is currently facing: high taxes and corruption.