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Riverhead board may take over development agency

The Riverhead Town Board could take charge of the town's Industrial Development Agency under a new proposal that may come up for a vote this month, town officials said.

The plan would take control of the IDA, which aims to foster new commercial projects, from the current appointed board and transfer it to the five-member town board.

"I support the idea because we are elected officials, and any decisions we make, the taxpayers can look to us to be responsible," town board member George Gabrielsen said Friday.

Supervisor Sean Walter last week proposed the idea, saying the IDA hasn't been able to attract enough qualified volunteers to serve on the board. At times, the IDA board has had to cancel its meetings because it lacked a quorum, he said.

Walter proposed retaining IDA executive director Ana Maria Villa as a town employee. Walter could not be reached for comment Friday, and Villa did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Both governance models are in use on Long Island. Hempstead Town, for example, has an independent, appointed IDA board, while Islip Town folds the IDA duties into those of its elected town board.

A work session Tuesday before Riverhead Town Board's next meeting will allow for further discussion, and a vote could be held as early as May 18, Gabrielsen said.

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