Several Democratic candidates for Riverhead Town positions on Tuesday called for an outside party to investigate the town’s pending $40 million sale of Enterprise Park at Calverton, citing questions over the deal’s execution and the company purchasing the property.
Laura Jens-Smith, who is running for town supervisor, and town board candidates Catherine Kent and Michele Lynch, held a news conference criticizing the town board over what they called “red flags” surrounding the deal to sell the remaining 2,300 acres of the 2,900-acre EPCAL property to Calverton-based Luminati Aerospace.
They said they felt the board hadn’t done enough research and vetting of Luminati before signing a letter of intent with the company to buy the property in March. Among the issues they cited was Facebook Inc.’s recent pullout from backing Luminati in the property deal, and two senior officials leaving Luminati between late last year and March.
“There’s a lot of questions over how this deal has gone down,” Jens-Smith said. “There needs to be a concise way to vet properties before it’s taken off the market. We should know what their financials are, if they even have the backing, the money, to go ahead with the deal before we even sit down with them.”
Luminati officials did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday. But Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter said it was “silly” to call for an outside investigation, calling the accusations made by the Democrats Tuesday “political” in nature.
While Walter noted there had been some “red flags” that had arisen during the deal that made it “very difficult” to support Luminati — including what he said was a lack of use permits at the company’s current facility — he said he was “committed” to holding a hearing for the deal by the town board’s last meeting in August.
Councilman Tim Hubbard, a Republican not seeking re-election, said he felt the town was going through an investigative process when the board voted in May to appoint as legal counsel for the deal Michael Heller of Melville-based law firm Lamb & Barnosky — someone who Hubbard said had “no skin in the game” and could act independently.
Republican Councilwoman Jodi Giglio, who is running for re-election, said she was “skeptical” on whether the deal would go through, and added she wanted to see certain provisions in the contract before she decides whether to support the deal — including giving the town the right to take the property back if Luminati does not follow through on its plans to create up to 2,000 jobs by 2022.