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Riverhead closer to developing Calverton site

Riverhead Town supervisor Sean Walter

Riverhead Town supervisor Sean Walter Credit: Sally Morrow

Riverhead's town board yesterday took its last big step toward getting its 2,900-acre industrial and multipurpose Enterprise Park at Calverton ready for business by approving the development of an environmental impact study.

"It's a watershed moment. It really is," Supervisor Sean Walter said after the vote.

He predicted that, in less than a year, the town would begin subdividing and selling off individual parcels of land at the sprawling park. "It's something we should have done years ago," he said.

The resolution authorizes the development of a generic environmental impact study based on plans for the park by previous town consultants. That will give the town a map of what can be built and where, and would be followed by zoning changes and, later, subdivisions.

Since the town acquired the former Grumman jet fighter assembly plant, its runways, and the thousands of acres around them -- many environmentally sensitive -- in 1998, the town has been unable to legally subdivide and sell even a single acre of the undeveloped land.

The town did sell in 2001 the site's existing industrial buildings -- about 1 million square feet on 480 acres -- and later approved a few acres for a water park still not built, both close to Route 25 where building would raise no environment problems. It also let Stony Brook University build a business incubator on another parcel along Route 25.

But no undeveloped land has been sold for more than a decade, with town officials unable to decide what should be built there and whether it was appropriate for housing. Some of the more spectacular proposals -- an indoor ski mountain, a recreational park to rival Disneyland -- fell apart so publicly Walter has called EPCAL "the place where bad ideas go to die."

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