Civic leaders: Time for town, RNPC to move forward

01/20/2012 9:30 AM |

Representatives of several civic associations in Riverhead Town told the Town Board Wednesday that the Riverhead Neighborhood Preservation Coalition does in fact represent their organizations, and that they’d like the town to put the acrimony between some officials and RNPC behind them for the new year.

Georgette Keller, president of the Jamesport-South Jamesport Civic Associaiton, read a letter to the Town Board at the Wednesday Town Board meeting, and asked representatives of other civic associations present at the meeting to stand up and confirm that RNPC speaks for their interests.

In recent months, Supervisor Sean Walter has criticized RNPC as being a “special interest group” that doesn’t represent as many people as they claim. The supervisor also accused RNPC of being involved with a Democratic campaign mailer criticizing him in November, a charge RNPC denies.

RNPC is a group that tries to link the efforts of various civic organizations in town.

“I just really feel it’s time for us to clear the slate and move forward with the spirit of a new year,” Ms. Keller said. She then asked Linda Nemeth and Bill Ceberek of the Greater Calverton Civic Association, Eric Biegler of the Sound Park Heights Civic Association, Sid Bail of the Wading River Civic Association, and Angela DeVito of the Jamesport-South Jamesport Civic Association to stand up and confirm that they support the letter she was about to read.

The letter is also signed by the presidents of those civic groups.

Ms. Keller said RNPC acts as an “umbrella” for the civic associations, and has provided an “invaluable service” to them, because they are able to have representatives at town meetings that can provide reports back to the various civic groups.

The letter, in its entirety, read as follows:

“The Riverhead Neighborhood Preservation Coalition is a unified group of civic associations and individual residents in the Town of Riverhead.

“The RNPC was established for the purpose of giving voice to our neighbors who wish to preserve the rural character, environmental quality and agricultural lifestyle of the town. We believe that from many years our local government has consistently enabled development and land uses that do not conform with good planning or reasonable readings of town codes and property restrictions.

“The RNPC fosters and supports sound land-use planning, environmental protection, and cultural preservation and code enforcement.

“Although there have been signed for town officials understand that this is a point of view worthy of serious consideration, town wall needs to be more attentive to the express needs and opinions of residence and civic associations with respect to these matters.

“Furthermore, recent inaccurate statements about the RNPC concerning its legitimacy, membership, and objectives as well as recent statements characterizing civic groups as special interest groups, cannot go unanswered.

“We, the undersigned civic associations of the town of Riverhead, wish to affirm that we not only represents residents in our own respective communities and maintain our own identities as civic and homeowners associations, but that we are also joined together as members of the Riverhead Neighborhood Preservation Coalition and support its goals and objectives.

“We do not appreciate mischaracterization of our coalition. We look forward to continuing to work with the town board, planning board, zoning board of appeals, industrial development agency, and town departments to meet the needs of present and future residents, and businesses and farms of this town, by faithfully adhering to the intent of our approved land-use plan, to reasonable readings of our town code, to state environmental and municipal laws and to sound land-use practices.”

It was signed by Georgette Keller, president of the Jamesport-South Jamesport Civic Association; Rex Farr, the president of the Greater Calverton Civic Association; Eric Biegel, president of Sound Park Heights Civic Association; Sid Bail, president of the Wading River Civic Association, and  RNPC co-founders Phil Barbato and Dominique Mendez.

“It’s time for a clean slate and for cooler heads to prevail,” Ms. Keller said after reading the letter.

“I agree,” Mr. Walter said.

tgannon@timesreview.com