Sewer district superintendent Michael Reichel rightly calls the paradox in improving the sewer infrastructure at the Enterprise Park at Calverton a “chicken-and-egg type of thing.” With relatively little development on the 2,900-acre parcel, it’s hard to pay for upgrades. And with no upgrades, it’s tough to draw new development.
So this week’s news that the 2014-15 New York State budget includes $5 million for the project offers something of a lifeline.
It’s the way the funding came about that’s disheartening, because it underscores the fact that EPCAL is low on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s list of potential economic generators in the state. He speaks often of the Aqueduct and Belmont race track properties, but never of Calverton.
At this point, it shouldn’t really be too much of an uphill battle for elected leaders on Long Island to attract funding to develop the enterprise park at the former Grumman property. The Long Island Regional Economic Development Council — a commission created by Mr. Cuomo to improve the entire state’s economy — has doled out state grants to projects setting up shop at EPCAL, including the sewer project. The governor himself signed legislation last year that should make the approval process for developments at EPCAL much easier, once they do finally start coming in.
So where was the love in the governor’s budget? Why did state legislators have to scratch and claw to get funding for what is perhaps the biggest potential economic opportunity on Long Island?
What our elected officials were able to get done remains a tremendous accomplishment, without a doubt. The funding will allow the town to get the ball rolling on a rather mundane but vitally important step in the process by improving the bones of EPCAL. If it weren’t for them, in fact, it wouldn’t have happened.
But for a governor who prides himself on job creation and tax relief, leaving it up to local leaders to fight for EPCAL funding seems like a gap in foresight that’s disappointing in someone with as much power as Mr. Cuomo wields.
EPCAL shouldn’t be viewed as what it is right now, but rather as what it could be.
Hats off to our local officials for reminding the state of just that.