67° Good Evening
67° Good Evening

INSIDE STORIES / Proposes super speedway at former Grumman site /

A LOT OF EARS in the Long Island business community perked up when word

circulated that developer Donald Trump had proposed a NASCAR super

speedway at the former Grumman air-test site in Calverton.

Stock car racing has become the fastest-growing spectator sport in

America. More than six million people attended the National Association

for Stock Car Auto Racing's premier Winston Cup events in 1997. Imagine

the tourist dollars that would flow onto the Island with a NASCAR track


But is Trump's proposal any more than a pipe dream?

He bid $55 million for the former Grumman site, one of several

proposals for the Calverton property now before the Riverhead

Development Corp., which formally took title to the land from the Navy

last September. All proposals are to be in by next Monday.

There are a couple of areas of concern regarding the Trump proposal.

He apparently hasn't had any substantive talks with the NASCAR

organization, according to its officials. Also, Trump floated a similar

proposal a few years ago in Connecticut. Nothing happened. What's more,

racing has at best had mixed success on Long Island over the years, with

several tracks having disappeared.

Trump wouldn't talk about his proposal with Inside Stories, and he

hasn't been talking much with NASCAR, either.

"I have not had any personal contact with Mr. Trump and I don't know

much more about it than what I'm reading in the papers," said Mike

Helton, NASCAR's senior vice president and chief operating officer. "If

there was any serious conversations going on, I would know."

But, Helton added, "It is not uncommon for someone to explore

possibilities before they talk to us about specifics."

And it should be noted that Trump from time to time socializes in

Palm Beach with the well-to-do France family, the founders of NASCAR,

which is headquartered in Daytona Beach.

Businesspeople here said Trump could be blowing smoke, as some feel

he was when he proposed Trump Motor Speedway in Bridgeport in 1996. That

plan, which was to include restaurants and retail shops, never got away

from the starting line.

Auto racing still operates on Long Island at Riverhead, a much

smaller facility than what Trump is proposing. But tracks in

Bridgehampton, Islip and Freeport are history. There also is a question

of whether NASCAR would want to hold a Winston Cup race on Long Island

when annual events already are held in upstate Watkins Glen and in the


Is Calverton at least a possibility for a Winston Cup race? "We

would want to be very open to it," Helton said.

LI to Pataki: Give Us Money

To Attract More Engineers

When Gov. George Pataki last year expressed concern about the

shortage of qualified technical workers on Long Island and pledged $2

million to hire more engineering faculty at the State University at

Stony Brook, some here believed he would include that sum in his base


But because of the somewhat imprecise wording of a news release last

year, it only seemed the governor would propose putting all the money in

the budget. Instead, he provided $500,000 and asked the State

Legislature to come up with the rest.

There is concern on the Island about that approach. Will Stony Brook

be able to attract engineering faculty if the money to pay their

salaries is left to the whims of the Legislature each year?

The issue worries academics and business leaders. "The shortage of

engineers in the work force is even worse than last year," said Yacov

Shamash, dean of Stony Brook's engineering school.

Frank Otto, general manager of EDO Corp., a defense contractor with

a large manufacturing operation in North Amityville, wrote Pataki

recently, saying he was disappointed about the budget appropriation. He

said the company is finding it difficult to recruit engineers to come to

high-cost Long Island.

"The only real answer is to educate the students that are already on

Long Island" to become engineers, Otto said. He urged Pataki to provide

additional funding to hire more faculty.

Caroline Quartararo, a spokeswoman for the Empire State Development

Corp., the state's economic development agency, said she is hopeful the

Legislature and the governor's office can come up with more money.

Concerns Are Growing For

Pesticide Notification Law

Here it was, a rainy, windy March afternoon in Huntington, a day

that very much said depressing late winter day.

But inside the Huntington Town House, there were signs of spring.

People strolled about wearing jeans, work boots, workshirts and baseball

caps. There were power lawnmowers, garden sprinkling systems and the

feel of things growing.

That was as it should have been. This was, after all, the 31st

Annual Turf & Plant Conference, sponsored by the Nassau-Suffolk

Landscape Gardeners Association Inc., one of Long Island's largest

business associations.

While there was a promise of warm, sunny skies about all this, there

also was a sense of controversy. All one needed to do was ask anyone

there to name a key issue confronting the association and the answer was

the same.

"That's easy," one man said. "It's the 48-hour notification." For

the uninitiated, this was a reference to proposed state legislation that

would require commercial applicators to notify a property owner's

neighbors at least 48 hours before applying pesticides outdoors.

Association officials say the measure, sponsored by Sen. Carl

Marcellino (R-Syosset) and Assemb. Thomas DiNapoli (D-Thomaston), is

unfair. It would, they say, require them to spend countless hours

notifying neighbors in a variety of directions, and even send them

looking for people who abandoned their homes. They prefer legislation

used by some other states, which requires homeowners to notify the state

if they want to be alerted to pesticide spraying.

The Marcellino-DiNapoli bill has been under consideration for two

years now. Walter Schroeder of Yaphank, executive director of the New

York State Professional Applicators Association, said the organization

will lobby against the bill again this year.

Geri Barish, president of 1 in 9, a Long Island breast cancer

education and lobbying group, called for a meeting of the minds. "It is

a very deep issue of concern," Barish said. "I know it is to them as

well as to us. It's time we all come to the table and understand the



We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

More news