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Riverhead may seek ideas to develop more EPCAL parkland

Riverhead's Enterprise Park at Calverton, seen here on

Riverhead's Enterprise Park at Calverton, seen here on Sept. 13, 2016. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Riverhead officials are considering sending out proposal requests to potentially develop 30 acres of parkland at the Enterprise Park at Calverton into a sports complex or other project.

Over the past year, officials from both Riverhead’s Community Development Agency and the Recreation Department said they have been approached by different private companies interested in building projects ranging from hockey rinks to soccer fields at one-third of the remaining 90 acres set aside for park use at the 2,700-acre property.

About 60 acres have been developed through the years into ballfields and parking facilities, according to Deputy Town Attorney Anne Marie Prudenti.

While officials have sought to develop the remaining acreage in ways useful for parks and recreational activities, municipal funding has been limited in the past few years as a result of the ripple effects of the 2008 recession and the impact on parks and recreation fees that would have been used to improve park areas, said Dawn Thomas, the town’s Community Development Agency director.

As a result, Thomas said she and Riverhead Recreation superintendent Ray Coyne have been discussing using more public-private partnerships as a way to get private companies to finance projects at the remaining park acreage that could benefit both the company and local residents.

“This has been done in many, many places in the country and on Long Island,” Thomas said.

The EPCAL site is one of four areas in Riverhead designated as an Urban Renewal Area, which allows for incentives to be provided to attract potential investors and assist owners and businesses seeking to improve their properties, according to the town’s official website. With that in mind, Thomas said, Riverhead partnering with private entities on projects in the park area to benefit both parties would go a long way in furthering the goals of Riverhead’s urban renewal plan.

At a Feb. 22 town board work session, board members said they were interested in the idea. Town Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said she would like to further discuss it with parks and recreation officials at their Thursday work session.

Coyne said he is open to all ideas and would be interested in seeing some of the park property developed in a way that could host sports tournaments for athletes around the country, which he said could generate more money for the local economy via spending on lodging and tourism.

“We have lands, [private investors] have needs, and if they want to build these facilities, Calverton is an ideal spot, so why not hear what they have to offer?” Coyne said.

Opportunity knocks

  • The 2,700-acre EPCAL property features 90 acres set aside for park use, 60 of which have been converted to ballfields, a dog park and parking through the years.
  • Proposals for other uses of the remaining 30 acres have ranged from improvements to existing terrain to make fields ready for lacrosse or field hockey to a multisports complex, town officials said.
  • The land is one of four Urban Renewal Areas in Riverhead, allowing officials to pursue potential partnerships between the town and private entities to further Riverhead’s urban renewal plan.

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