10. Plum Island For Sale—The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s summer announcement that it’s looking to sell the Cold War Era laboratory complex and build a new state-of-the-art facility to conduct its top-secret germ warfare and animal disease research has both environmentalists and local politicians scratching their collective heads, not the least reason being its intention to relocate operations to Manhattan, Kansas (in the heart of the Beef Belt), but also about the thoroughness of the cleanup at the site. A required environmental impact study has been delayed twice already.
9. LIRR Switch Fire—Hundreds of thousands of Long Island Rail Road commuters and passengers were stranded or faced unbearable delays when the nation’s largest commuter railroad nearly ground to a complete halt when a fire erupted at a key switching tower in Jamaica, Queens in August and crippled service. Resulting interruptions and scheduling cuts continued for a week; the blaze in all cost the railroad an estimated $2 million.
8. Death of AvalonBay—The 490-unit affordable housing project in Huntington Station, voted down by the Huntington Town zoning board in September, didn’t just spell the end of affordable housing (at least in the foreseeable future) in Huntington. Viewed as a litmus test for transit-oriented affordable housing on Long Island, it’s nixing sends a clear message to other prospective developers: “Not here!” After all, AvalonBay, a national developer, was going to put more than $100 million into the project. The defeat could mean a kibosh on the idea any time soon, anywhere on the Island. And so, Long Island’s housing crisis continues.
7. Drownings—The Summer of 2010 will be as remembered for its record-breaking temperatures as its ramifications on those trying to keep cool. More than a dozen people drowned between May and August this season across Long Island; the numbers are split between pool and ocean deaths, with riptides and unsupervised swimmers factors in the latter. Two of the youngest victims included 2-year-old Chloe Acosta, who drowned in a West Babylon swimming pool, and Nicole Suriel, 12, who lost her young life while on a class field trip in Long Beach.
6. Hofstra Gubernatorial Debate—The October sound-off was voters’ only chance to witness New York State’s seven candidates for governor in the 2010 midterm elections sharing the same stage, and it was a circus act, for sure. Democrat Andrew Cuomo, Freedom Party candidate Charles Barron, former madam/Anti-Prohibition Party hopeful Kristin Davis, the Green Party’s Howie Hawkins, Jimmy McMillan from the Rent Is Too Damn High Party, Republican Carl Paladino and Libertarian Warren Redlich mostly traded potshots and one-liners with each other rather than offer practical answers to pressing issues, such as the state’s ominous deficit or the future of the MTA.
5. Cablevision-Fox Blackout—Cablevision’s nearly 3 million subscribers missed part of the World Series and other popular television programming for two weeks in October as the Bethpage-based cable provider battled with content provider News Corp. over pricing. The service interruptions were reminiscent of similar blackouts that occurred earlier this year when Cablevision squabbled over pricing with HDTV and The Food Network, and then, WABC Channel 7.
4. Shinnecock Federal Recognition—Following a more than 32-year struggle punctuated with eleventh-hour challenges to their designation, Long Island’s Shinnecock Indian Nation finally received acknowledgment from the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs as the 565th federally recognized American Indian Tribe, opening the door to federal housing, health and education funding, as well as a long-sought-after casino.
3. Marcelo Lucero Murder Trial—The family of the slain 37-year-old Ecuadorean immigrant stabbed to death in 2008 finally had their day in court as jurors weighed the fate of 19-year-old Jeff Conroy in the case that put Suffolk County on the map nationally as a powder keg of anti-Hispanic and anti-immigration sentiment. Though acquitted of the harsher charge, murder as a hate crime, Conroy was convicted of manslaughter as a hate crime and sentenced to 25 years.
2. Budget Woes—Nassau, Suffolk and New York State all had to deal with tremendous budget deficits this year—Nassau had a $350 million-plus hole; Suffolk had to contend with a $160 million gap; New York State, upward of $5 billion—and with those figures came tough decisions about who and where to cut, what services to lose and how to sustain what remains. Many still have yet to be reckoned with. One thing’s for sure—their impact will be felt long into each respective government’s fiscal futures.
1. Long Island Serial Killer?—The most gruesome discovery on Long Island this year came in its final weeks, when the decomposed bodies of three young women and the skeletal remains of a fourth were discovered within three days along a stretch of Ocean Parkway in Gilgo Beach by cadaver dogs. As morbid the finding, as sensational the headlines and media spectacle it has become. The investigation is ongoing.