The people of Wading River, half of which sits in the northeast corner of Riverhead Town, and their neighbors in sister hamlet Shoreham will be experiencing great changes over the next few months and years, perhaps more so than any other hamlet in our coverage area. Watch for headlines in the coming year about restoration of the historic Woodhull House, the fate of proposed development projects along Route 25A and re-development plans for the former Shoreham power plant property on the Sound. Shoreham-Wading River School District officials are already on the hunt for a new superintendent.
Below is a cheat sheet on news and issues affecting the two hamlets.
The Wading River Civic Association will be in the news as it continues to serve as a forum for debate about development along Route 25A.
One pending project called Central Square would be a 56,000-square-foot shopping center just east of the CVS pharmacy. Another proposed development calls for 30 retail buildings totaling 32,500 square feet on a 5.9-acre site at the Route 25A and Sound Avenue intersection.
Still another project calls for an expansion of the clubhouse at the Great Rock Golf Club near the intersection of Route 25A and Sound Avenue to the east.
Wading River civic first vice president Sid Bail said the association’s goal was to come up with a coordinated response to the proposals. He said he wondered how much commercial development is really needed along Route 25A in Wading River.
“Is it serving the needs of the community, or is it designed to attract tourists?” Mr. Bail asked.
POWER PLANT PROPERTY
The Wading River civic will join forces with the Shoreham Civic Organization to lobby for the best future use of the 60-acre LIPA power plant property in Shoreham. A number of proposals have been aired for the property, including a wind turbine testing facility that would employ 15 to 20 people.
The civics have planned a road trip to Boston to see a wind turbine testing facility in the works there. It will be the only one of its kind in the nation once it is completed in mid-January.
“Before we get overly enthusiastic over that proposal, we’d like to see it, taste it, smell it,” Mr. Bail said.
Also slated for 2011 is a new roof for the historic Woodhull House in Wading River. It will be the first step toward stabilizing the 19th-century landmark on North Country Road.
Built in 1824, the house is believed to be the oldest structure in the Shoreham-Wading River area. It was home to seven generations descended from one of Brookhaven Town’s founders, Richard Woodhull.
“I’m pleased that we decided to replace the roof instead of doing a temporary fix,” said Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Jane Bonner.
On the superintendent-search front, the Shoreham-Wading River Board of Education agreed on Tuesday to hire a private recruiting firm to find candidates to replace superintendent Harriet Copel, who announced last month she would not seek to renew her contract in July.
The board will hold a special public meeting Jan. 11, when recruiting firms vying for the search contract will make presentations on their services.
The district’s goal is to find a replacement superintendent by mid-April.
Meanwhile, Dr. Copel said in an interview that she will move forward with efforts to make sure the district prepares for the challenges that it will face in dealing with new rules and policies being handed down by the state education department.
The state is changing the way teachers and principals are evaluated, requiring more sustained reading, curriculum review and student performance assessment on the part of local districts. The Board of Regents is also revising high school graduation requirements.
“We are looking to make sure we pay attention so that we will be prepared” when the new rules go into effect, Dr. Copel said.
Also, she said, long-term projects, including interior renovations at Prodell Middle School, will be completed in 2011. “We’re well on our way this year to accomplishing our goals and planning for next year,” Dr. Copel said.
For Shoreham residents, the 85-foot cell towers that T-Mobile wants to erect either at Brookhaven State Park or the Tallgrass golf course will be on the 2011 agenda. Shoreham Civic Organization president Richard Belsky said some residents are worried the towers could pose health threats, and the group is waiting to see what’s next for the proposal.
Jennifer Gustavson contributed reporting.