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Riverhead delays decision on drag racing event after town residents complain

The "Scrambul Runway Challenge Drag Racing Event" had

The "Scrambul Runway Challenge Drag Racing Event" had been scheduled for June 19 and 20 at Enterprise Park at Calverton, but the Riverhead Town Board tabled a decision on a key agreement after residents raised concerns about noise, safety and environmental impact. Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

A proposed drag racing event in Riverhead scheduled for next month may have hit a speed bump.

After hearing complaints from residents, the Riverhead Town Board voted 5-0 at their regular meeting Wednesday afternoon to postpone a decision on a key agreement for the "Scrambul Runway Challenge Drag Racing Event," a two-day drag racing competition and exhibit. The event, hosted by the Hempstead-based motorsport entertainment company Scrambul Inc., was approved by the board on May 4 to take place June 19 and 20 at Enterprise Park at Calverton.

The move potentially places the event in jeopardy, after residents urged the board not to pass the resolution over noise and safety concerns.

"I know there’s a few racing enthusiasts who live in Calverton, maybe in Timber Park, but the reason why there are none of these [events] left in Long Island is because they were such terrible neighbors to start with. They bring noise, noise and more noise, ear-deafening noise," said George Gudmundsen, who lives in the Timber Park section of Calverton.

Gudmundsen, whose neighborhood is near the EPCAL property where the event was planned, said he felt having drag racing in the area would have "a terrible negative effect" on residents where he lived.

The board heard from concerned residents while taking comments on a resolution to execute a short-term runway agreement with Scrambul Inc. for the event at the EPCAL property.

Those who spoke also expressed worries about how the event could impact environmentally sensitive areas.

Andre Baxter, founder of Scrambul Inc., told Newsday on Wednesday that while he was confident the event would still take place, residents brought up "some valid points" and he would make sure those details were made available for them.

"They’re going to be surprised at how little noise this event makes because we don’t cater to those large cars they think about when they hear the term drag racing," Baxter said.

Angela DeVito, a South Jamesport resident and member of civic group EPCAL Watch, said there were numerous unanswered questions, including safety access for emergency personnel, appropriate sanitation and proposed traffic control measures.

Kathy McGraw, of Northville, said it was unclear where spectators and event attendees would be located and she worried they could potentially trample on environmentally sensitive areas.

McGraw cited reports that "there will be no bleachers and spectators can bring in chairs and easy tents" to the event. "Where are they going to set those up, on the grasslands on either side of the runways?"

Board members decided to table the resolution to make sure residents’ questions were answered first, but added they would work to ensure a solution within the event’s time frame. The Chapter 255 special-event agreement the town approved for the event states the town must have the pact signed by June 1, according to Town Attorney Robert Kozaciewicz.

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