Riverhead board OKs transfer of EPCAL land to town's IDA
Riverhead officials have given the go-ahead to transfer more than 1,600 acres of the EPCAL property in Calverton to the town’s Industrial Development Agency in an effort to move forward with the stalled close of the $40 million sale.
The Town Board voted 5-0 at a special meeting Thursday to approve the transfer, which allows the town to lease the property via the agency to venture group Calverton Aviation and Technology, as long as the group fulfills its obligations under the current agreement with the town.
Several residents and civic group members asked the board to postpone the vote.
“The best course of action is to table the resolution and give the public more time to participate in the process,” Sid Bail, president of the Wading River Civic Association, told the board.
Phil Barbato, of Jamesport, expressed concerns that there didn’t appear to be anything in the deal preventing the venture group — comprised of majority partner Triple Five Group and minority partner Luminati Aerospace — from selling the property once they take possession of it.
Councilman Tim Hubbard said the lease process would allow the town to “get another set of eyes” on the deal via the IDA.
“It makes [the venture group] put up or shut up, and either they can, or they can’t,” Hubbard said. “If they can’t, we move on. If they can, we do our best to make it the best it can be for the Town of Riverhead. “The idea is to sell this property, as it has been from Day 1, as an economic generator, and that’s exactly what this is all about, so I vote ‘yes.’”
Supervisor Yvette Aguiar echoed those thoughts.
“We need to move the land back on the tax rolls and make sure that taxpayers are secure,” Aguiar said, adding that a public forum was held March 8 to open the process to residents and that the town will monitor the IDA during its proceedings on the deal.
The lease option was discussed after town officials said they had reached a stalemate with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Suffolk County Water Authority in a dispute over who can supply water to the property.
The town is missing a key permit to complete an 8-lot subdivision for the site required for the sale to proceed. Both the town and the water authority want to supply water for the property.
Triple Five issued a statement to Newsday following the meeting that said the town’s vote will allow the company “to begin the process of making good on its promise to create an internationally recognized innovative corporate campus of economic excellence on the site of the former Calverton Test Flight Facility.”
“We bring decades of experience and will commit every resource available to ensure that our innovative park will be a success and a defining project for the town of Riverhead, our company, and, most importantly, the residents of the town,” the statement read.