Town to discuss development of Calverton site

The view of Riverhead Enterprise at Calverton facing

The view of Riverhead Enterprise at Calverton facing west on Route 25 in Calverton. (July 7, 2013) (Credit: Heather Walsh)

When Riverhead officials hold a special public hearing Tuesday, they will be putting down the blueprint for the town's economic future for decades to come.

Officials are expected to discuss the draft supplemental generic environmental impact statement of a development plan for the Enterprise Park at Calverton.

That plan will become the foundation for what will happen at the 2,323.9 acres of town-owned land between Middle Country Road and Grumman Boulevard in Calverton. It will set the limits for what kinds of jobs can be created, the types of firms that will come in, and what kind of tax base Riverhead will have at what Supervisor Sean Walter describes as "the biggest undeveloped industrial park in New York State."


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The 20-page report, available on the public hearings section of the Riverhead Town website -- townofriverheadny.gov -- shows the issues the town expects to face as it implements plans to subdivide the property into 50 separate lots, lay out streets and bring in electric and sewage lines. It also will set up a system that would let a developer get permission to put up a building within 90 days.

The town also plans to use part of the undeveloped land for parks and nature preserves, and to create 126 acres of new grassland as a habitat for short-eared owls.

The hearing, at 7:30 p.m., is an effort to make sure every possible issue that could affect future development is covered in the plan.

But, while the town expects to spend the next year working on its state-mandated environmental review and getting various state and county agencies to approve the details, it also has to find $22.9 million to build a new sewage treatment plant for EPCAL.

Walter says the repayments alone would put the town over its state-mandated spending cap. "It's not feasible," he said. "It's not fair for the town of Riverhead to shoulder the entire burden of the economic development engine for the East End. Somebody has to start looking at this as a regional project."

State Sen. Kenneth P. LaValle, who was instrumental in passing the legislation that allows start-up businesses near a state university to get tax benefits, said he has been looking into possible state legislation to help Riverhead with its financial problems over the new sewage treatment plant.

"EPCAL is a critical [regional] economic resource, and I have it on my radar screen to speak to the governor personally over the summer so this can be on his radar screen and we can get a result in 2014," LaValle said.

LaValle said the state had several programs, including zero-interest loans, which might help, and added that New York State should be active in developing the East End economy. "If we make investments in Buffalo and other parts of the state, we should make this investment in Riverhead . . ." he added.

Suffolk County officials said that while Riverhead Town did not apply this year for the county's competitive sewage infrastructure grants -- with no plant designed, the town could not apply -- there was no reason to think Riverhead would not be able to apply for such grants in the future.

 

Proposals for property

 

Riverhead has looked at potential uses for its Calverton property, and several have been turned down as too costly or politically unpopular.

The current study will look at the impact of potential uses. Among the more promising proposals:

Solar energy production

An "outside the fence" buildout area for new technology companies working with Brookhaven National Laboratory

A private motor sports venueA polo/equestrian complex

Specialized recreation use, such as a soccer/lacrosse tournament facility or a model airplane flying center

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