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East End YMCA might get new home at EPCAL

After a more than 10-year search for a location in Riverhead, the YMCA has found an address for a new facility that will serve the East End and eastern Brookhaven.

Riverhead Town is proposing turning over 7.3 acres of the town-owned Enterprise Park at Calverton (EPCAL) to the nonprofit organization, which requires seven to 10 acres of property for parking and its programs. The EPCAL property is 2,900 acres, including large areas of vacant space set aside for further industrial or commercial development and areas designated for recreational use, including new town ballfields expected to open later this year.

"We're thrilled," said Michael Famiglietti, president and chief executive of the YMCA of Long Island Inc. "The town board has been more than helpful to us."

Last week, board members set a public hearing for July 17 on a resolution to name the YMCA of Long Island as a qualified and eligible sponsor to purchase and develop the site at EPCAL for its new building.

Normally, such hearings are scheduled a few weeks beforehand, but the two-month delay gives the YMCA time to file a draft operating agreement with the town. The agreement will become part of the public hearing and that draft must be filed with the town clerk by June 19.

A group of business and civic leaders, headed by greenhouse owner Joseph Van de Wetering, has been seeking funds for the Peconic YMCA since it was originally proposed and has raised about $6 million. Famiglietti said it would likely cost $8 million to $10 million to construct the facility. The first phase, about $8 million, does not include a gym.

Under the proposal, the YMCA would not have to pay to get title to the land for development as a youth center, but would have to pay for the cost of improvements, including water and sewer service. In addition, the YMCA would have to set aside $25,000 a year for Riverhead residents eligible for financial aid to defray membership costs, offer four free vocational classes a year to town residents, and run free bimonthly recreational youth and young adult programs for town residents.

Famiglietti said that over the past decade as different sites were considered, the YMCA has shifted its focus from social service programs to health and fitness, and that a planned summer camp program is one important way to meet that goal. The summer camp is one big reason so much space is needed.

Local residents have said they want the YMCA and its programs but have expressed concerns about the accompanying noise and traffic.

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