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Opposition may result in EPCAL address for proposed $22M food-waste-to-energy facility 

The entrance to the Town of Riverhead's Enterprise

The entrance to the Town of Riverhead's Enterprise Park at Calverton, located on the site of the former Grumman plant off Route 25 in Calverton, is shown on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016. Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

A proposed $22 million food-waste-to-energy facility originally pitched for Youngs Avenue in Calverton will now focus instead on the Enterprise Park in Calverton as a potential destination after Calverton residents rejected the plant’s original location.

Mark Lembo, managing partner of Melville-based CEA Energy LLC, first proposed the facility — which would convert food waste to natural gas — be placed along 5 acres on Youngs Avenue at the site of the former town animal shelter, during a Feb. 14 work session of the Riverhead Town Board.

Lembo said Thursday that he changed his mind after the Greater Calverton Civic Association held a meeting at the Riley Avenue Elementary School in Riverhead.

Lembo, a Riverhead resident, was invited to speak at the group’s meeting after residents and civic members said at the town board's Feb. 20 regular meeting that they were caught off guard regarding the potential location of the plant.

“Where were you between November and February for the Greater Calverton area?” said Joseph Graziano, a resident of Old Orchard Estates in Baiting Hollow. “That’s a large chunk of time that we were in the dark about it. The information did not flow and that’s why everybody’s hair went up.”

Lembo responded that it took time to get town board members to agree to hear the proposal at the February work session, which he wanted to get done first. “It was my miscommunication not to come to you sooner, but this is not going to be done without your support,” Lembo said.

Frank Palmer, a Calverton resident, said he was worried that if the plant was built, the subsequent truck traffic might bring down his home’s value.

“I’m thinking my house may go down in value by $150,000 if you build that plant,” Palmer told Lembo. “What are we getting back for that? We’re not getting anything back. You need a better site.”

After the meeting, Lembo said that based on the community’s reaction he will instead seek to build the facility at the Enterprise Park at Calverton on Grumman Boulevard. Lembo said he is in negotiations with a property owner at the site's industrial park, where multiple businesses are located. Several residents at Thursday's meeting also suggested the EPCAL site might be a better location.

“I think more people would be willing to support it being at EPCAL because that’s where it belongs,” Lembo said.

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