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Riverhead Democrats have to-do list if they win seat on town board

Anthony Coates, center, candidate for Riverhead Supervisor, speaks

Anthony Coates, center, candidate for Riverhead Supervisor, speaks during a press conference as Town Council candidates, Neil Krupnick and Laura Jens Smith look on in Wading River Sept. 8, 2015. Credit: Ed Betz

Riverhead Democrats, facing what could be their best chances of winning a town board seat in six years, have outlined a wide-ranging platform that includes selling town property, imposing term limits for elected officials and inviting private companies to build large-scale clean-energy projects at the Enterprise Park at Calverton.

Supervisor candidate Anthony Coates and council candidates Laura Jens-Smith and Neil Krupnick, speaking at a news conference last week at a duck pond in Wading River, criticized the all-Republican town board that has controlled the town since 2010 as dysfunctional and ineffective.

Coates, a former paid campaign consultant to three-term GOP Supervisor Sean Walter, said "nasty, snarling, bitter gridlock" has characterized the board's tenure.

"I worked with these town board members six long years ago," Coates said. "I was excited when they put up their hand and pledged to get these kinds of things done. But, six long years later, their track record is one of failure and they need to be replaced."

A Democrat has not sat on the Riverhead Town Board since Walter defeated his predecessor, Phil Cardinale, in 2009. But Democrats said GOP infighting could give them an opening this year. Councilwoman Jodi Giglio, the Republican nominee to replace Walter as supervisor, is facing a third-party challenge from Walter on the Conservative line.

The Democratic candidates said that, if they win Nov. 3, they will seek proposals from companies interested in building solar arrays and other electricity sources at the 2,900-acre Enterprise Park at Calverton, or EPCAL, the former Grumman Corp. flight-test site that has languished for 17 years.

They said energy produced at EPCAL could lower residents' electric rates and allow the town to establish a "Riverhead Power Authority" separate from the Long Island Power Authority. They also said they are open to the possibility of a developer building a race car track at EPCAL.

Walter has worked to zone EPCAL for a large-scale industrial and corporate park, but has also supported plans for a 90-acre "energy park" at the site. He said last week that the Democrats copied his platform "with a few minor variations" and said he was "flattered."

"I guess that's what happens when your former campaign adviser runs against you," he said.

Giglio could not be reached for comment Friday.

The Democrats said they would also institute term limits of no more than eight years for all town board members and seek buyers for "non- and underproducing assets" including, possibly, the East Creek Marina in Jamesport and a town garage on Route 58 in Riverhead.

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