07/08/15 9:00am
07/08/2015 9:00 AM
The Riverhead school board at Tuesday's meeting in Riverside. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo)

The Riverhead school board at Tuesday’s meeting in Riverside. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo)

The Riverhead school board has decided not to approve a resolution in support of the proposed Family Community Life Center.

During Tuesday’s meeting, newly elected school board president Sue Koukounas and school board members Greg Meyer and Lori Hulse voted in favor. Newly elected school board vice president Amelia Lantz and school board members Ann Cotten-DeGrasse and Chris Dorr abstained from voting.

School board member Kim Ligon was absent.

After the meeting, Superintendent Nancy Carney confirmed the non-binding measure was defeated in the split vote.

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06/10/15 10:43am
06/10/2015 10:43 AM
An artist rendering of the main atrium at the Family Community Life Center's recreational and other facilities.

An artist rendering of the main atrium at the Family Community Life Center. (Credit: File image)

YMCA Long Island and Family Community Life Center — two white whales that have been on again, off again for the past couple of decades in town — are apparently in discussions to develop a partnership.

During the Riverhead school board meeting Tuesday, president and CEO of the Family Community Life Center Shirley Coverdale said the YMCA is “interested in partnering” with her group “in some form.”

She didn’t disclose any other details about the discussions, and declined further comment on Wednesday morning.

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04/30/15 6:00am
04/30/2015 6:00 AM

To the editor:

I would like to begin by saying that I love Riverhead. I’ve been a resident for 45 years and witnessed the town go through many ups and downs. When I was in junior high school, I remember my parents and their friends complaining that we didn’t have any programs for our youth. When my kids were in school, it remained the same. My granddaughter is now a freshman in college; her brother just turned 11. Riverhead is the Suffolk County seat.

Yet we have no YMCA. No Boys & Girls Club. No public pool.

Now, the president of Little League is resigning and there is uncertainty regarding a replacement. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island has made a presentation and several attempts to approach our school board to begin a program here. This is a proven, highly successful organization that provides free specially trained dedicated mentors to children from single-parent homes. The children are matched with “bigs” who have similar hobbies and interests. I have seen how this program enhances the lives of the “bigs” as well as the “littles.” Some bigs end up putting their littles through college.

Riverhead was not receptive. Sag Harbor has it. Hampton Bays jumped on it. Now Southampton wants it and I have been asked to help.

I am on the advisory board for the Family Community Life Center nonprofit group. The group’s project has been stalled for decades.

Aside from the positive impact the project, which would include 24-hour day care, will have on our area — including more than $50 million in construction contracts and $22 million in wages for residents — it will benefit the entire community!

As a community servant, leader and taxpayer, I expect that those I vote for will make decisions in the community’s best interest.

I would like to know why these exciting programs have not been approved.

Since the town cannot or will not pay for these services — and the First Baptist Church Community Life Center is willing to make this dream a reality at no cost to the town, as well as having support from all levels of government except our own town — It just does not make sense to me.

Felecia Wilson, Riverhead

03/02/15 10:59am
03/02/2015 10:59 AM
An artist’s rendering of the main atrium at the Family Community Life Center’s recreational and other facilities.

A rendering of the main atrium at the Family Community Life Center’s planned rec center.

To the Editor:

I am writing in response to some thoughts on drug arrests found in both a recent News-Review editorial and a follow-up letter from Richard Park. I agree that we can’t arrest our way out of a gang problem.

More convictions aren’t the answer. As a community, we need to provide our youth with alternatives to drugs and gangs. As the News-Review pointed out, Riverhead has no YMCA or large recreation center. We need to offer a safe place for our teens to hang out and have fun, one with structure and supervision. The town’s answer is that we can’t afford anything like that now. (more…)

01/18/15 8:00am
01/18/2015 8:00 AM

 

The Rev. Charles Coverdale speaks to the Riverhead school board at its meeting Tuesday night. (Credit: Paul Squire)

The Rev. Charles Coverdale at the Riverhead school board on Tuesday night. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Shirley Coverdale, president and CEO of the Family Community Life Center, gave a presentation at Tuesday’s Riverhead school board meeting in an effort to gather support for the nonprofit’s project.

The multi-use center, which was conceptualized by Ms. Coverdale and her husband, the Rev. Charles Coverdale of First Baptist Church, would include 125 apartments, an Olympic-size indoor swimming pool, a 25-seat theater and media center, 24-hour adult child day care services and more.

The Coverdales also described the project as an investment for the community.

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10/13/14 10:00am
10/13/2014 10:00 AM
An artist rendering of the main atrium at the Family Community Life Center's recreational and other facilities.

An artist rendering of the main atrium at the Family Community Life Center’s recreational and other facilities.

Families are the heart of the community, but Riverhead is heartsick. With the establishment of a Community Benefit District proposed by the Family Community Life Center, residents of Riverhead will have an unprecedented opportunity to support a project of regional significance in their midst that will create jobs, spur economic development and provide numerous valuable and healing family services not currently available to the taxpayers of our community.

The FCLC project was declared “regionally significant” in a unanimous vote by members of the Long Island Regional Planning Council of Nassau and Suffolk after consideration of the numerous regional strategic priorities that the project addresses, including the following.

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09/09/14 10:00am
09/09/2014 10:00 AM
An artist’s rendering of the main atrium at the Family Community Life Center’s recreational and other facilities.

An artist’s rendering of the main atrium at the Family Community Life Center’s recreational and other facilities.

The Long Island Regional Planning Council has declared First Baptist Church of Riverhead’s long-planned Family Community Life Center as a project of regional significance, raising the project’s political standing and bettering its chances for grant money and donor interest.

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11/21/13 2:16pm
11/21/2013 2:16 PM
An artist’s rendering of the main atrium at the Family Community Life Center’s recreational and other facilities.

An artist’s rendering of the main atrium at the Family Community Life Center’s recreational and other facilities.

The proposed “Community Benefit” overlay zone needed for First Baptist Church’s Family Community Life Center will soon be revised since it doesn’t have the support of a majority of Riverhead Town Board members in its current form.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio and Councilmen George Gabrielsen and John Dunleavy said at Thursday’s Town Board work session that they could not support the proposed zoning as currently written.

Supervisor Sean Walter and Councilman Jim Wooten did support it at Thursday’s work session, where the proposed overlay zone was discussed with representatives of the church, which has proposed building 132 affordable apartment units intended as “work force housing” for the area.

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Mr. Gabrielsen opposed the requirement in the zoning that a project have 800 feet of road frontage on a state or county road in order to qualify for the overlay zone.

First Baptist’s Northville Turnpike property has 807 feet of frontage on a county road.

“That just seems like it was site specific,” Mr. Gabrielsen said.

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Mr. Walter said the proposal will need to be revised to meet Mr. Gabrielsen’s concerns so that a new public hearing can be held in early January.

Another change Mr. Gabrielsen proposed is a requirement for a 50-foot vegetative buffer between the project and neighboring homes, instead of the 25 feet in the proposed code.

“When you have something this dense and this high, I think neighbors have the right to a 50-foot buffer,” he said.

Ms. Giglio said the proposed 10 units per acre of residential housing is too dense, and she also feels the project should not be exempt from taxes, and should pay either taxes or payments in lieu of taxes.

Mr. Dunleavy agreed with the concerns of his fellow council members.

Mr. Walter, who has consistently supported the project, said he thinks Mr. Gabrielsen’s requests “are reasonable and they are doable,” but the tax issues raised by Ms. Giglio and Mr. Dunleavy probably cannot be addressed.

Ms. Giglio also raised the question of what other properties in town would meet the criteria of the proposed zone.

A map produced by town planning and building administrator Jeff Murphree shows about five other properties.

“A couple are owned by the county, and one has an approved site plan on it, so the way I’m looking at this is that there is only one other piece of property in the town that could possibly benefit from this zoning,” Ms. Giglio said.

The proposed overlay zone, which will now be rewritten, would have allowed a community center and workforce housing on land that meets certain criteria, including having 10 or more acres of land with at least 800 feet of frontage on a county or state highway, as well as public water and sewer connections.

The proposed Family Community Life Center would include an Olympic-size indoor swimming pool, a 25-seat theater and media center and 24-hour adult and child day care services. The proposal also includes an indoor walking track, gymnasium, fitness center and classroom space.

It would be located on the 12-acre church property on Northville Turnpike. The Rev. Charles Coverdale has said the income from the apartments is needed to subsidize the rest of the project, which would be open to the community.

The allowed number of housing units would be one per acre, but the proposed zone would allow additional units with the purchase or either transferred development rights from farms, or open space development credits from Suffolk County, which are dedicated for use in affordable housing and would be made available to such projects at no charge.

The church is hoping for the latter and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has publicly pledged support for the project.

The Family Community Life Center project, which has been in the works for more than 20 years, received overwhelming support from speakers at a Nov. 6 public hearing.

Reached for comment after the meeting, Mr. Coverdale said, “We have to go through the process. We want things to be right.”

tgannon@timesreview.com