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Aguiar talks shop on big Riverhead issues with residents, civic groups

Riverhead Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said she expects

Riverhead Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said she expects the town to proceed with the EPCAL land sale. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Newly-elected Riverhead Supervisor Yvette Aguiar shared her thoughts and plans regarding several major town issues with residents and civic groups after fielding questions from them after the Town Board’s meeting this week.

Several civic group representatives at Tuesday's meeting asked Aguiar about issues ranging from helicopter noise to the pending $40 million land sale at the Enterprise Park at Calverton property, and whether the board would continue to meet quarterly with civic groups.

Christy Hawkins, a Wading River resident and member of the EPCAL Watch civic group — which monitors the Calverton-based property — and John McAuliff, a member of the Coalition Against EPCAL Housing, asked Aguiar whether she would prioritize protecting about 1,050 acres from development. They called the acreage environmentally sensitive land, and it is part of the sale of more than 1,600 acres to venture group Calverton Aviation and Technology. About 600 acres of the property being sold are developable, town officials previously stated.

Aguiar said that while the 1,050 acres the groups want protected are included in the contract that is still being finalized, she would also seek to protect that portion of the property.

“If we have to move forward, and I anticipate we are, we’re going to make sure that we protect that land and hopefully utilize the money and give some of it back to the public,” Aguiar said.

John Cullen, a Jamesport resident and member of the Northville Beach Civic Association, asked Aguiar whether she could set up another meeting to discuss problems that some residents have had with helicopter noise generated by aircraft on the federally mandated-North Shore helicopter route. A public meeting was held in September with representatives from the New Jersey-based Eastern Region Helicopter Council to answer residents' questions about the route.

Aguiar, who attended that meeting, said she was not sure how effective it was because the nonprofit represented the interests of helicopter pilots. However, Aguiar said the town might have to revisit the topic and would have more conversations on how to resolve the issue.

Responding to questions on whether the town would continue quarterly civic roundtable discussions, Aguiar said she would.

"I understand there was a bridge with civic groups and I'm going to continue building that bridge, and no one is going to be exempt," Aguiar said.

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