Supporters, critics of Heartland Town Square project hold dueling protests

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BRENTWOOD -

Advocates and critics of the massive Heartland Town Square project held dueling protests Saturday in Brentwood. 

Heartland developers want to build more than 9,000 apartments, plus retail and office space, that would cover 50 football fields at the site of the Pilgrim State Psychiatric Center property. 

So far, the Islip Town Board approved the first phase of the project, which includes construction of 3,500 apartments, in addition to retail and office space on 113 acres.

On one side of the protest were the project's supporters, who say the plan will bring jobs and much-needed housing to young Long Islanders. Opponents are worried about traffic congestion and the development's impact on the environment.

Michael Capuano, of Dix Hills, is part of the group Citizens for a Better Islip. He says the psychiatric center is an eyesore and a hotbed of crime and drug activity.

"We could come together for a solution for our community and I think this would be the biggest boom of all time for this area," said Capuano. 

The 4 Towns Civic Association filed a lawsuit against the developers back in November, which is ongoing. 

Some residents at the rally say this type of big development would be a burden on the environment, the school district and become a traffic nightmare. 

"Commack Road can't handle this type of traffic," said Joan Scavone, of Dix Hills. "It's bad enough that we have the Tanger Outlets over there." 

Heartland's developer told News 12 that he plans on breaking ground on the project in about one year.
 

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