In last week’s News-Review Equal Time piece (“Supervisor Sean Walter fools only himself”), our former supervisor, Phil Cardinale, appeared to be confused as to why Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter was “happy” about the collapse of the Rechler Purchase of 300 acres at EPCAL. I would like to point out that I am also very happy to see the end of this contract. Rechler’s proposal to build nearly 1,000 housing units on 300 acres may have been Phil’s idea of industrial development, but I certainly didn’t think so. At the reduced price of $60,000 an acre, it would have been a home builder’s fantasy. Did that idiotic proposal qualify Rechler as the most experienced and best developer on Long Island? Phil should wake up! This project would not have created quality jobs in our town. This was a lose-lose proposition for Riverhead.
Now we will turn to another of the former supervisor’s giveaway deals gone awry. Our Town Board voted last Friday to terminate the contract with Riverhead Resorts. The group could not come up with a $6 million payment that was long overdue. Instead, Resorts representatives brought a check for the equivalent of $3.9 million in British pounds that was cancelled after a few days. Along with a price reduction from $155 million to $108 million, the developer wanted the contract extended to January 2012. With their struggle to produce a legitimate $3.9 million check, what makes anyone think they would ever be financially able to build the $2 billion ski mountain resort? These were not competent business people.
In response to Phil’s complaint about my “Great Walkout” on Riverhead Resorts, I will make it very clear that I had already met with them and their lawyers on numerous occasions over a 10-month period. I told them that if they couldn’t show me the money, I was done! When once again they showed up with no money, I stood up and said, “Enough is enough.” I would waste no more of our taxpayer money sitting through yet another publicity stunt. Any hardworking farm boy knows a horse thief when he sees one.
Phil made the deal with Riverhead Resorts and danced with the group for three years. The Resorts people made the mistake of saving the last dance for me. I walked out; the dance was over.
Dare we even talk about Phil’s failure with the Apollo Group and downtown? The former supervisor doesn’t know the definition of competence and sophistication during negotiations. Putting his failed follies behind us, we can now look to a bright future in the development of EPCAL. Working with an updated land-use plan, the Town Board can move in a different direction toward a well-thought-out subdivision. We can now realize the property’s real potential as an economic engine driving this town for generations to come.
Mr. Gabrielsen is a member of the Riverhead Town Board.