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Editorial 9/2/2014
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presented by Peter Kohler

Ever since Grumman closed its F-14 manufacturing facilities at Calverton in the 1990s, Riverhead has tried to develop EPCAL, now the town’s 2,300 acre site.

Missteps in the EPCAL epic have been legendary:

    * Starting with the town’s encouragement of a fantastic scheme for a 50-story-high indoor ski mountain;

    * Leading to fights with environmentalists over saving habitat for rare short-eared owls and tiger salamanders.

    * And to disputes over storing hundreds of storm damaged cars on runways.

Despite all this, Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter and his board persisted in commissioning a vastly improved vision that balances development and conservation, an approach that will be the subject of public hearings this week.

The first thing the town’s consultants got right is where to develop and where not to develop. Plans would limit development to about 600 acres, preserving the environmentally sensitive land.

Another big environmental plus: The town will spend $23 million to upgrade EPCAL’s sewage treatment plant, thanks to $6.5 million in state grants. Consequently, what’s developed will not further contaminate the Peconic estuary with nitrogen.

Another plus, the town will use special zoning to tell developers what to build, rather than inviting a smorgasbord of proposals. And this plan addresses real estate realities, encouraging a mix of uses, including workforce housing and some retailing.

Still, some questions remain about safeguarding environmentally sensitive land from what will be developed nearby. The town should also consider seeking a master developer.

Despite past missteps and unresolved issues lying ahead, Riverhead finally has a plan that just might work.

See the entire plan on the Town of Riverhead website
Mar 7, 2008
You can’t blame Riverhead Supervisor Phil Cardinale for being suspicious about those short-eared owls spotted on lands the town had agreed to sell for tens of millions of dollars. The appearance of the endangered owls certainly complicated plans to develop a 350-foot high ski-mountain and resort at EPCAL in Calverton…
Sep 25, 2007
When snowflakes fell years ago, you could actually ski at Brookhaven’s Bald Hill (more of a hole than a hill) and at Bethpage State Park (where a rope-tow tortured shoulders). Well, skiing on Long Island may be making a comeback. Get ready to wax up those skis, and warm up your yodels, because an indoor ski mountain is coming to Riverhead…