Riverhead town makes $1.8M from car storage

Vehicles that were damaged during superstorm Sandy were

Vehicles that were damaged during superstorm Sandy were stored at a lot in Calverton. (Dec. 28, 2012) (Credit: Doug Kuntz)

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Most of the $1.8 million Riverhead made for storing thousands of cars damaged by superstorm Sandy will be used to hold down town taxes, Supervisor Sean Walter said.

Walter said $500,000 will be put aside to help pay for the cost of building a sewage treatment plant that will serve the town's new industrial park.

An estimated 230,000 cars and trucks across the metropolitan region were destroyed because of the Oct. 29 storm -- and town officials estimated more than 30,000 were stored in Riverhead.

The vehicles that landed at the old Grumman runways at what is now the Enterprise Park at Calverton were gone by June 30, having been auctioned off or sold.

When the cars arrived, environmental groups and local residents complained they threatened groundwater or were a possible fire hazard. But town officials argued that the thick concrete runways would stop pollutants from seeping into the ground; and state environmental officials ordered officials to move cars from the grassy area next to the runways to the concrete pads.

"Everybody was happy," Walter said. "The county health department talked to me, the Department of Environmental Conservation made an inspection, the fire marshal and the Manorville fire department chiefs came . . . there was not a problem to be had."

But there was $1.8 million, based on the $3,200 per acre per month called for in a series of lease agreements with the Illinois-based Insurance Auto Auctions.

Walter said the money should help offset a tax hike. In Riverhead, every $1 million that has to be raised for the town budget represents a 3 percent increase in town taxes, he noted.

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