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Riverhead supervisor says loss makes him better town leader

Sean Walter watches as the votes are tallied

Sean Walter watches as the votes are tallied for the Suffolk County special legislative election at BBQ Grill in Riverhead. (Jan. 15, 2013) Credit: Randee Daddona

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said last week that something divine was behind his shellacking in January's special election for the Suffolk County Legislature.

Southold Town Board member Al Krupski won by a 2-1 ratio, becoming only the second Democrat ever to win the seat.

At his fourth State of the Town speech last week, Walter was optimistic about his loss. "I truly believe God wanted to humble me . . . in order to make me a better town supervisor," he told about 75 people at a Calverton golf course. "I realize Riverhead is where I belong."

Walter repeated his religious theme several times. "Faith triumphs in trouble," he explained, pledging to try and control his sometimes emotional bickering with his fellow Republicans on the town board, some of whom have talked about running for supervisor.

But most of his hourlong talk was about winning his four-year fight to improve the economy and Riverhead's future.

He said one more year of hard work -- completing environmental reviews and zoning codes to open the door to development at the town-owned Enterprise Park at Calverton -- would be the final sprint to the goal of a revitalized town.

"The character of this town is strong because we have persevered through troubling times at EPCAL, where bad projects came to die.

"We have persevered through spending that was double the rate of inflation, and financial audits that were in some cases 25 years overdue. This perseverance has produced an indomitable character. . . . We are on the precipice of greatness."

Walter said that in the last four years, Riverhead's Main Street has taken on new life with the recent opening of the Suffolk Theater and new restaurants and stores. He mentioned several projects on the drawing board, including a new gym and 16 new apartments in the old Woolworth building.

He said that so much new growth is taking place that the town has hired a consultant to craft a new parking plan and traffic flow study for East and West Main streets and Peconic Avenue in the heart of the business district.

"Four years ago, it [Main Street] was bleak. It was gray. Windows were dark. . . . Today there is light and hope and promise," Walter said.

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