08/16/14 12:33pm
08/16/2014 12:33 PM
The plane in the July 30 skydiving accident being taxied back to its hangar. (Credit: Jennifer Gustavson, file)

The plane in the July 30 skydiving accident in Calverton being taxied back to its hangar. (Credit: Jennifer Gustavson, file)

Skydive Long Island issued a statement Saturday disputing the report that the Federal Aviation Administration is investigating whether the parachute was properly packed in the fatal tandem skydiving accident July 30 that killed one man and critically injured the instructor. (more…)

03/15/13 10:39am
03/15/2013 10:39 AM
Calverton

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | The FAA toured property off Route 25 in Calverton Thursday for a potential new air traffic control complex.

The Federal Aviation Administration toured a 50-acre section of the Enterprise Park at Calverton Thursday afternoon to consider whether it could become a site of a Next-Gen Integrated Air Traffic Control Complex, which would consolidate the function of two existing FAA regional facilities on Long Island and would employ more than 800 people.

Town officials were pretty much tight-lipped about the meeting, however.

“It’s obvious there was a meeting and it was a good meeting, and that’s about all I can say,” Supervisor Sean Walter said.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio initiated the move on the Town Board to try to lure the FAA to EPCAL, a former Grumman Corporation F-14 testing facility. Then, in February, Ms. Giglio issued a press statement announcing that the FAA had agreed to a site visit at EPCAL, though Mr. Dunleavy said the FAA wants to keep things quiet as they tour sites.

“The FAA said they don’t want any publicity on this,” Councilman John Dunleavy said Thursday.

Reached Friday, Ms. Giglio said only, “It was a productive meeting. I really think they see the gem that EPCAL is.”

The proposed Next-Gen Integrated Air Traffic Control Complex would consolidate the functions of the FAA’s Air Route Traffic Control Center at Long Island MacArthur Airport in Islip Town and the Terminal Radar Approach Control facility in Westbury, according to federal officials.

The Next-Gen facility would track planes by incorporating state-of-the-art satellite air traffic equipment, replacing older, radar-based equipment now used at the Islip and Westbury facilities, officials have said.

The FAA issued a request for information to landowners saying they intended to locate the new facility on between 34 and 49 acres within 150 miles of New York City, and in New York State, and that they are planning to build a total of 250,000 square feet of buildings, towers and employee parking.

The issue became the subject of debate among Town Board members last month, as Mr. Walter said he felt the town should back Islip/McArthur Airport as the site of the new facility, because it would be bad for all of Long Island if that airport, which has struggled financially of late, were to close.

Ms. Giglio and a majority of Town Board members said they believed the town should try to lure the facility to EPCAL.

Councilman Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) also encouraged the move.

The facility at Islip now, and the one being proposed, is not an air traffic control tower for any specific airport, and would handle air traffic from the Northeast region.

Officials have said it does not need to be located at an active airport.

The 50 acres being offered is owned by Riverhead Town and located near the Stony Brook Business Incubator at EPCAL off Route 25.

tgannon@timesreview.com

02/25/13 11:22am
02/25/2013 11:22 AM
MICHAEL WHITE FILE PHOTO | An FAA control tower currently at MacArthur Airport in Islip Town.

MICHAEL WHITE FILE PHOTO | An FAA control tower currently at MacArthur Airport in Islip Town.

Federal Aviation Administration officials are coming to Riverhead Town in mid-March to check out 50 acres at the town’s Enterprise Park in Calverton the FAA is considering for a new air traffic control complex, town officials said.

If the EPCAL land is selected for the complex, as many as 800 jobs could come to Riverhead, said Riverhead Councilwoman Jodi Giglio, who is coordinating the town’s effort to woo the FAA and announced the news through a press release Monday.

EPCAl in Riverhead, FAA

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | A view of the EPCAL site from the sky.

The facility would replace the FAA’s current air traffic control facilities at Long Island, one at MacArthur Airport in Islip and another  in Westbury, according to federal officials.

EDITORIAL: FAA complex would be a welcome boost

Ms. Giglio said the town submitted its response to a request for information from the FAA by the Jan. 31 deadline, offering up 50 acres adjacent to the Stony Brook Business Incubator on Route 25, free of charge, to the FAA.

“The important thing is to keep the jobs on Long Island, getting them all to stay here,” said Ms. Giglio, who added that 800 skilled workers at EPCAL would bring more people to Riverhead’s restaurants, golf courses and other businesses.

“The secondary industries would be phenomenal, as well as secondary spending with this type of facility as an anchor,” she said.

On offering the land for free, she said, “I think [the free land] would act as a loss leader, so we can create secondary industries and spending.”

At its height, the Grumman Corporation that for decades ran a fighter jet testing and assembly facility at the site employed about 3,000 workers.

Ms. Giglio said she was expecting a call later Monday to confirm when, exactly, FAA officials would be visiting, and whether they will just be viewing the site or spending the day in Riverhead to see what the town has to offer workers.

The new facility would incorporate state-of-the-art satellite air traffic equipment, replacing older, radar-based equipment now used at the Islip and Westbury facilities.

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter, who was initially against trying to lure the FAA to town because he and other supervisors pledged to support Islip’s proposal, said he was glad federal officials would be touring the site.

“I think its wonderful…. It’s always positive when people are coming to look at property at EPCAL. I’m certainly interested in any leads for selling property there.”

He didn’t think the meeting would be open to the public, but added “all the details” have not been worked out yet.

Ms. Giglio said the existing Islip facility, which currently has about 800 employees, is also used as a training area for air traffic controllers who are later sent to airports throughout the county.

“I think they’re looking for an easy commute for their employees at the Islip base,” she said.

Initial specs the town has received from the FAA say any towers to be installed would not have windows, and she believes none of them would be taller than the 75-foot height restriction currently at EPCAL, Ms. Giglio said.

FAA officials said last month they intended to locate the facility on between 34 and 49 acres within 150 miles of New York City, and in New York State.

The federal officials are planning to build a total of 250,000 square feet of buildings, towers and parking for the employees.

SEE PRIOR NEWS-REVIEW COVERAGE

byoung@timesreview.com

See the Feb. 28 News-Review newspaper for more information.

01/24/13 5:25pm
01/24/2013 5:25 PM
NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | An aerial view of Calverton Enterprise Park, looking south.

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | An aerial view of Calverton Enterprise Park, looking south.

The Riverhead Town Board has identified 50 acres of town-owned land near the Stony Brook Business Incubator in Calverton that officials believe can be used for an FAA “NextGen” Integrated Air Traffic Control Facility.

But that agreement didn’t come easy, as board members argued for about a half hour Thursday as to whether to formally propose the site, with Supervisor Sean Walter again trying to dissuade the board out of pursuing the FAA facility — as he did when board members discussed the FAA proposal a week earlier.

The FAA’s “request for information” seeks owners of 34-to-49 contiguous acres of land that they’d be interested in selling to the federal government for a 250,000-square-foot air traffic control campus with enough parking for 800 employees.

But Mr. Walter pointed out at Thursday’s work session that the FAA’s request specifically states that “Sites which have a seasonal water table less than 25 feet below the average grade will not be considered” and that “sites with any history of hazardous material contamination will not be considered.”

He said most of the land at the Enterprise Park at Calverton, or EPCAL, doesn’t meet the water table requirement, and EPCAL also has had a history of groundwater contamination from when the U.S. Navy and Grumman built and tested fighter planes there.

Mr. Walter also said the sewage treatment plant at EPCAL and the roads at the site — part of which is privately owned — aren’t equipped to handle a facility this large.

“Why are you bashing EPCAL, Sean? Who are you answering to?” Councilwoman Jodi Giglio asked during the discussion.

The supervisor said Ms. Giglio had submitted information about EPCAL to the FAA last week without any approval from the full Town Board.

Ms. Giglio said the information she submitted was all from the town’s website, and is public already.

At its work session a week earlier, the Town Board discussed the FAA proposal as well, and Mr. Walter said then that the board should be backing a proposal to put the facility at Islip Town’s Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma.

Ms. Giglio suggested the town submit EPCAL as a possible location for the FAA facility.

Mr. Walter also participated in an Islip Town press conference in July in support of the MacArthur Airport site for the FAA project.

The FAA currently has two regional air traffic control facilities, one at MacArthur and one in Westbury, which it plans to replace with the new, state-of-the-art facility which will consolidate the functions of those facilities.

The NextGen facility would use satellite-based global positioning to guide planes, rather than the current ground-based radar systems.

A week ago, Mr. Walter said he feels Islip’s facility has the best change of keeping this function on Long Island, and not supporting it could result in the 800 jobs leaving Long Island altogether and moving Upstate.

Mr. Walter said he’s not bashing EPCAL, but believes the area near the incubator is the only spot on EPCAL where this facility could be located.

The supervisor said if the town submits an application, he wants it to be the best application possible.

Ms. Giglio said the FAA isn’t looking for a formal application at this point, it is simply looking for land that could handle such a facility.

“I would love to know who you are answering to,” Ms. Giglio repeated in reference to Mr. Walter’s efforts to block the move.

The rest of the five-member Town Board sided with Ms. Giglio, who brought the matte to the board — and decided to go head with an appeal to the FAA to come to Calverton.

A week earlier, Mr. Walter said that while Islip Supervisor Tom Croci is a Republican, the previous Islip supervisor was a Democrat, and he would support putting this facility at MacArthur Airport regardless of the party affiliation of the Islip supervisor.

He said Islip Town already received a $500,000 state grant to improve the infrastructure around MacArthur, whereas EPCAL’s sewers and infrastructure improvements are estimated to be more than $30 million combined and the town doesn’t know where that money will come from.

“All we’re doing is submitting a letter saying we are available and they will decide if we meet their criteria,” Councilman John Dunleavy said. “I’m for this on the East End because it is regional and it will pick the region up.”

Board members also discussed asking former congressman George Hochbrueckner, who is already working for the town as a lobbyist on EPCAL issues, to send a letter to the FAA in support of ECPAL’s chances for the new air traffic control facility.

In addition to EPCAL and MacArthur, numerous other potential sites have been reported as possible locations for the FAA project, although the FAA will not disclose what sites have been submitted. The deadline for submissions is Jan. 31.

A spokesman for Rechler Equity, however, confirmed earlier this week that Rechler has submitted their new business park at the county-owned Gabreski Airport in Westhampton as a possible location for the NextGen project.

tgannon@timesreview.com

01/24/13 9:16am
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Architect Martin Sendlewski (left) pitches the apartment building plan to Town Board members Thursday.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Architect Martin Sendlewski (left) pitches the apartment building plan to Town Board members Thursday.

The Town Board discussed a 48-unit apartment building proposed for downtown’s West Main Street at its 10 a.m. public work session Thursday.

News-Review reporter Tim Gannon covered the meeting live. (Click the blog box below.)

BARBARAELLEN KOCH | The Long Island Science Center would move if apartments get built.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH | The Long Island Science Center would move if apartments get built.

Brooklyn-based Tricon Development is in contract to purchase the building that currently houses the Long Island Science Center and replace it with the new five-story apartment complex, according to Martin Sendlewski, the architect for the project.

The Long Island Science Center is hoping to find another location in downtown Riverhead, he said in an interview with the News-Review before Thursday’s meeting started.

The units will each have their own parking space, located underneath the complex, so it will not impact the downtown parking district, Mr. Sendlewski said.

Unlike Summerwind — the 52-unit apartment complex Mr. Sendlewski also is involved with on Peconic Avenue —  the new project would not have a commercial component and be market value, rather than “workforce,”  housing.

The developer is considering having leases and possibly sales of the units, he said, and they hope to complete the project by March 2014.

The board also discussed the possibility of the Calverton Enterprise Park being used by the FAA for a regional air traffic control center, with Supervisor Sean Walter expressing serious reservations about submitted information to the FAA that would allow the agency to decide if it’s interested in the EPCAL site.

The rest of the Town Board disagreed.

The meeting started at 10 a.m.

 

11 W. Main Street_jpg

01/24/13 8:00am
NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | An aerial view of Calverton Enterprise Park, looking south.

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | An aerial view of Calverton Enterprise Park, looking south.

Riverhead Town is throwing its hat in the ring in a competition among county, municipal and private entities all trying to entice Federal Aviation Administration officials to build a state-of-the-art air traffic control facility on their land.

Wherever the NextGen Integrated Air Traffic Control Facility is built in lower New York State or Long Island, it would bring with it some 800 highly technical and well-paid permanent jobs, as well as hundreds of construction jobs over 10 years officials say.

The FAA hopes to have the project online by 2019.

Riverhead Councilwoman Jodi Giglio, after some pushback from Supervisor Sean Walter, convinced the Town Board to submit an application last week.

EDITORIAL: FAA facility would be a welcome boost

 

The submission also comes at the urging of Congressman Tim Bishop (D-Southampton), Ms. Giglio said.

“It would obviously be a boon to Riverhead so Congressman Bishop encourages them to apply,” said Bishop spokesman Oliver Longwell, noting that Mr. Bishop has not publicly endorsed a location, as several applications are coming from within his 1st Congressional District.

Riverhead officials are proposing town-owned land at the Calverton Enterprise Park, once the site of a Grumman fighter pilot testing facility.

“Congressman Bishop is fighting hard to have the new FAA tower built on Long Island,” Mr. Longwell said. “EPCAL does seem to fit the criteria but we’re not sure about [easement questions], as there are complicated environmental issues at the site.”

The facility, which would be satellite-based, unlike current radar-based air traffic control systems, would consolidate and replace the functions of the existing FAA Air Route Traffic Control Center at Long Island MacArthur Airport in Islip Town and the existing Terminal Radar Approach Control facility in Westbury, federal officials say.

As for the competition for the new facility, Islip Town has been pushing the FAA for some time to build it at MacArthur Airport and, locally, officials with Rechler Equity Partners have confirmed that they have submitted land they lease from the county at Gabreski Airport in Westhampton as a possible site for the FAA project.

Other Long Island sites that have been suggested include a 40-acre parcel on Nicolls Road near Suffolk Community College in Selden, Mitchell Field in Nassau County and possibly 95 acres owned by Jan Burman at EPCAL, according to Ms. Giglio. It could not be immediately confirmed which of these other locations were being officially considered through the application process.

Ms. Giglio said that if Mr. Burman’s land at EPCAL won the FAA facility, as opposed to town-owned land at the former Grumman site, the town would lose out on potential tax revenues it would receive if Mr. Burman’s land were developed by private enterprise, since the FAA would be tax exempt. Mr. Burman could not be reached for comment.

A number of upstate locations also have been mentioned as possible locations for the FAA facility, Ms. Giglio said, including Stewart International Airport in Newburgh and a site near Albany.

Ms. Giglio raised the issue at last Thursday’s Riverhead Town Board work session, which is open to the public, and made the argument that since the FAA is running advertisements seeking a new centralized location for the facilities, the town should at least try to lure it to EPCAL.

But Mr. Walter disagreed.

“We should be looking at this as a region and not stealing this,” he said.

Mr. Walter believes there is a danger that the FAA might move the facility off Long Island altogether and that Long Island officials should present a unified show of support for keeping it in Islip.

There are Riverhead residents who work at the Islip Town-owned airport who would lose their jobs, he said.

But Ms. Giglio countered that other Long Island towns are already trying to “steal” the project and that Riverhead officials should be most concerned with bringing it to Riverhead Town.

Because the FAA is exempt from town zoning, she said, a facility at EPCAL would not require new zoning or state Department of Environmental Conservation approvals and the town wouldn’t have to spend any money because the FAA has money earmarked and in place for the project.

“This would bring 800 high-paying jobs to the area,” she said.

The FAA wants to locate the regional facility within 150 miles of New York City and is seeking 34 to 49 acres for the project. The site must be in New York State and the landowner must be willing to sell the property to the FAA.

“The site must be suitable for construction of an operational air traffic control campus with approximately 250,000 square feet of buildings and parking for 800 employees,” the FAA said.

FAA officials would not disclose what sites have been submitted so far. The deadline for submissions is Jan. 31.

“It’s perfect for EPCAL,” Councilman Jim Wooten said during last week’s meeting.

Mr. Walter said the Town Board should at least have Islip Supervisor Tom Croci come to Riverhead to explain the importance of the facility to his town.

“I’m not concerned about Islip; I’m concerned about Riverhead,” Councilman George Gabrielsen said.

“It can’t hurt,” Councilman John Dunleavy said, although he questioned why the town always waits until the last minute on applications like this.

Mr. Walter ultimately gave in and directed town community development agency director Chris Kempner to prepare a proposal to locate the facility at EPCAL.

Back on July 12, Mr. Walter participated in an Islip Town press conference with other Long Island officials backing MacArthur Airport as the location for the NextGen facility.

Other officials at that press conference included then-Brookhaven supervisor Mark Lesko. Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, Babylon Supervisor and Suffolk Democratic Party chairman Richard Schaffer and several other state, county and business officials, according to Inez Birbiglia, Islip Town’s communications director.

“It was pretty bipartisan,” Ms. Birbiglia said, as both Republican and Democratic officials backed the Islip site.

Ms. Birbiglia said on Tuesday that Islip Town was under the impression Riverhead supported the MacArthur Airport site for the FAA facility.

Islip Town officials believe MacArthur is the best site for the NextGen facility, she said.

“We have 80 acres available just a few thousand feet away from the existing ARTCC and the FAA employees already live in the surrounding neighborhood.”

The NextGen facility will be regional and will serve airports throughout the New York City region, so it’s not necessary that it be located at an existing airport, officials said.

The FAA’s NextGen control system was designed to eliminate older radar-based technologies and rely more on global positioning satellites, enabling aircraft to fly closer to one another in ever-crowded skyways while providing less separation in time and space during takeoffs and landings, ultimately alleviating flight delays that have plagued New York area airports over the years, according to Islip officials.

tgannon@timesreview.com