As the town continues toward the sale of 1,600 acres at EPCAL to Calverton Aviation & Technology, the future of the property appears to be coming into focus.
Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said for the last 20 years there have been failed efforts to redevelop the property, which was gifted to the town by the Navy for $1. It was the town’s responsibility to come up with a plan and a developer to replace the jobs lost when Grumman left.
“The infrastructure is very costly, the sewer and water could range from $60 to $80 million, so finding somebody that could come up with the money not only to buy the property, but to build the infrastructure and to attract businesses that could create the jobs, it was quite a difficult task for previous boards and also this board,” Ms. Giglio said.
She said that she sees technology as the future because it will “make it so that we can have the Silicon Valley of the East Coast, with jobs for our kids and for our futures, so that they don’t have to leave Long Island.
“I see these innovators of the future technology coming into and working in synergy with CAT to bring those aerospace and aeronautic jobs back to the Grumman facility and I can’t think of a better place for that to happen,” she continued. “I do know that the DEC has fought the town since I’ve been working on the subdivision since 2012 as far as the development of the open space and the ponds that are there, the grasslands, the forest areas. I see a lot of that being preserved and, hopefully, being used for the public.”
Ms. Kent said the CAT deal has been flawed from the start.
“There’s been sort of a shroud of secrecy over the development plan,” she said. “We have very little information on the timeline.”
She said the recent work session where several start-up companies were presented as interested in working with CAT was “encouraging.”
“But for me, I need to see a couple of big anchor companies coming in so that I know that they really are going to be able to fulfill their promises,” Ms. Kent said.
Yvette Aguiar, who won November’s election for supervisor, spoke about her plan to address overcrowded housing and public safety.
“School overcrowding affects our budget,” she said. “It has a direct impact. It also affects our property values. The change at the moment is very fluid. Officers have to be hired, personnel have to be trained, equipment has to be purchased and we need to assign an individual who’s going to being able to carry this effort forward with the proper leadership and the proper vision.”
The plan Ms. Aguiar recommended in September is an initial managerial plan, she said.
“This is not the panacea of addressing school overcrowding and addressing the issue that we’re facing here in Riverhead,” she said. “We need to now be methodical ... I’m currently an outsider looking in and I need to make these decisions as an insider looking out, for the entire community.”
Ms. Aguiar also spoke about the disconnect between town government and the Riverhead Central School District, saying that it is critical the town work holistically with the district to heighten communication. She is considering having parents and guardians use an enrollment system and signing an affidavit, as is protocol in other towns, to strengthen relations with code enforcement.
“We have to implement that type of system; it’s a viable system,” she said. “Utilizing these affidavits would help us in lessening the overcrowding at our school.”
PBMC deputy executive director Amy Loeb spoke on the future of the hospital and how it’s changed and will continue to grow.
The hospital’s surgical center opened about 10 years ago, as did its state-of-the-art emergency department. Today, that same emergency department is in need of expansion.
“With the new Corey Critical Care Pavilion, we have shell space,” she said.
The $60 million facility features a comprehensive cardiac care center and cath labs, which are the first facilities of their kind on the East End. PBMC received a $10 million donation from philanthropists and longtime supporters Emilie and Michael Corey in early September, making it the largest gift PBMC has ever received from an individual.
From targeting the aging community to expanding services into Greenport and beyond, keeping people out of the hospital with home treatment and telemedicine, growing the number of skilled practitioners in the hospital and focusing on support programs and women’s health programs, much work is underway, said Ms. Loeb.
Sean McClean of Renaissance Downtowns.
Riverside is located in Southampton Town but is often viewed as an extension of downtown Riverhead. Sean McLean, CEO of Renaissance Downtowns, said extensive development is imminent there.
“There are far more problems in Riverside, I think, socially, than there are in Riverhead’s downtown,” Mr. McLean said. “I think Riverhead suffers from what Riverside looks like and the impression that Riverside gives as you approach the downtown. Hopefully, with the new construction, we’ll start to change that.”
Riverside saw a full zoning change and environmental SEQRA review some years back — permitting nearly 3 million square feet of construction in the Riverside hamlet center under a new overlay form-based zoning district. Mr. McClean said the SEQRA review for Riverside was the most environmentally progressive analysis ever done in downstate New York because of development of the new sewer treatment plan.
“That sewer treatment plan is the one last major step toward getting underway with the construction of the remainder of the buildings,” he said. “We have the funding allocated through New York State to build the treatment plant ... When the treatment plan is built, this will be a major environmental remediation for the East End, hopefully helping to address this dire scallop situation and the health of the bays.”
What happens in Riverside, he said, inevitably affects Riverhead and beyond because of the Peconic Estuary.
“From that perspective, it’s important and continuing working with Riverhead on maintaining environmental standards that are going to continue to create a healthier environment for the Peconic Estuary, I think, is very important,” he said. “From a social perspective, it is one community, but we often distinguish things between party lines and voting districts and boundaries.”
The municipalities, he said, need to improve their working relationship. From expansion of the Bridgehampton-based Children’s Museum of the East End to Riverside’s new fee-based system for fair-share environmental mitigation, positive changes are in the works, Mr. McClean said, and it is critical that the local governments act promptly and work collaboratively.