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