03/22/13 8:00am
03/22/2013 8:00 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Riverhead native and lifelong Reeves Park resident Jeff Fuchs makes his way up the Sandy-ravaged beach’s access ramp in his SUV after hanging out late Tuesday afternoon with friends. Mr. Fuchs is confident Mother Nature will restore Reeves Beach.

Every summer, Reeves Park resident Brian Noone likes to pack his barbecue grill into the back of his truck and head down to Reeves Beach with his wife and two young children. They spend the afternoons swimming, then build campfires each night, just as Mr. Noone did with his parents and siblings when he was young.

“We live down there,” he said of the routine.

But this year may be different.

At low tide, Reeves Beach, on the north shore of Baiting Hollow, has hundreds of feet of sand stretching in both directions. But come down the ramp at some high tides and the beach is gone, completely submerged under the Long Island Sound, which now reaches up to the ramp and bluffs at the start of the beach.

Mr. Noone said it would be “devastating” to lose parts of the beach.

Reeves Beach at high tide

ERIC BIEGLER COURTESY PHOTO | A strip of Reeves Beach at high tide last week.

“That’s what this community lives for,” he said. “I think this community enjoys this beach more than any other community out there.”

The dramatic erosion that wiped out Reeves Beach is thanks to Hurricane Sandy and a series of winter storms that battered the North Fork this past year, experts said.

Now, town officials and engineers are planning to look closer at the shoreline to figure out how to manage the town’s most damaged beach before summer.

“It looks horrible right now … Reeves is by far the worst,” said Ray Coyne, the town’s recreation department head.

Mr. Coyne said the Riverhead Town beaches at Iron Pier and Wading River have “a lot of debris down there,” but the town will be able to clean and open those beaches in time for the summer season.

But Reeves Beach poses more complicated challenges, like where to put a lifeguard stand on the flooded beach.

“If we had opened it today, we couldn’t even get a lifeguard stand down during one of the [tide] cycles,” Mr. Coyne said, because the water comes right up to the bluffs at times.

He and the town engineers will assess the beach and present their findings to the Town Board in the coming weeks, he said.

Closing the beach for the summer, which would mean no town staffing and no swimming, is a last resort, he said.

“I just want to find out everything that we need to know to open this beach,” Mr. Coyne said. “[Closing the beach] really will not happen unless we have no other options left. If our backs are against the wall.”

Reeves Beach has disappeared beneath high tides in years past, said Eric Biegler, president of the Sound Park Heights Civic Association, which represents about 100 homeowners in the Reeves Park neighborhood near the beach.

“Every year the beach goes through a bit of a revitalization,” he said.

But this year, the beach hasn’t come back.

“This is unprecedented, in my opinion,” Mr. Biegler said. “Who knows how it’s going to correct itself?”

The civic association’s private beach, about 400 feet of shoreline west of the town beach, lost 25 feet of bluff during Sandy, Mr. Biegler said.

“We’re going to have a huge beach [this year], not because our beach came back but because our cliff got chopped off,” he said.

The new Sound shoreline in the area of Reeves Park and beyond now has areas that are completely under water during certain high tide cycles, he said. That means people traveling the beach will need to make sure they understand that their route onto the beach may be sealed off by the Sound hours later.

“You’re going to have to work through this,” Mr. Biegler said. “The whole of coastal Long Island is going to have to work through this.”

Drivers on the beach will also have to be more conscious of high and low tides. He proposed the town send messages to those who got permits to drive on the beach, warning them of the dangers of the new high tide marks.

Mr. Biegler said he was not “alarmed” yet, but he said he had concerns about the beach’s erosion and doesn’t want the town to close the beach.

“Ray [Coyne] is going to have to be creative,” Mr. Biegler said. “He can’t just close the beach … You have to adapt, you have to be flexible, you have to survive through this.

“[Reeves Beach] is a huge resource for the entire Town of Riverhead. As a community we don’t want to see the beach closed.”

The erosion of beaches, including Reeves Beach, is natural, said Stony Brook University professor Henry Bokuniewicz, who has a doctorate in geology and geophysics from Yale University.

The North Shore of Long Island is not one uniform beach, Mr. Bokuniewicz said, but rather a series of “compartments” formed by outcroppings of rocks, jetties and other underwater structures.

“It’s not like the South Shore where much of the shore is smeared together,” he said.

The area of Reeves Beach that was damaged is one such compartment, bordered by a series of rocky groins to the east and a submerged shipwreck to the west that forms a barrier to trap sand, he said.

Erosion normally occurs when rainstorms take sand off the bluffs or waves undercut them and cause large sections to collapse.

But while normal storms may also sweep sand off the beach, Sandy was by no means a normal storm, he said.

“In Sandy, many beaches went down to what’s called ‘pavement,’ ” he said. “All that was left was this hard, packed-down beach.”

Because the storm was so huge and because of nor’easters since Sandy, including February’s record-setting blizzard, the sand that was pulled out to sea hasn’t been redistributed onto the beaches yet, he said.

“If the calm conditions return, beaches can recover in six weeks, but the problem is calm conditions don’t persist,” Mr. Bokuniewicz said. “The clock is trying to get to reset, and it keeps getting pushed back and pushed back and pushed back.”

Mr. Bokuniewicz said he believes the beach will eventually return, though he couldn’t predict when.

“How fast the beach recovers depends on the sand that’s in that compartment [near Reeves Beach],” he said.

But it’s possible that when the beach recovers, it may not be the same, he said.

While some sand may have settled in the compartment, other sand may have been dumped on sand bars far offshore; that sand will likely not come back, changing the shape of the new Reeves Beach, he said.

“It’s really sort of the luck of the draw as to where the sand was redistributed after Sandy,” Mr. Bokuniewicz said. “It may come back, but it may not.”

Mr. Coyne said the town engineers will look at all possibilities, including seeing if the beach will naturally return or filling in the area with sand to restore Reeves Beach.

Mr. Biegler said he favored “a little intervention” if needed in the form of dumping new sand onto the beach, but warned the town needs to be careful.

In general, Mr. Bokuniewicz said he believes it’s “good to … put [sand] back on the beach,” but he warned that the sand may soon be eroded away if another big storm strikes, and he said the measure can be costly.

“Beach nourishment is fairly benign, environmentally, but it is a crapshoot,” he said. “It doesn’t solve the erosion problem, but it treats the problem. You never know when that next event is going to come through and push that sand to the west or push the sand to the east.

“You pay your money and take your chances.”

But not everyone is concerned about erosion.

Riverhead native and lifelong Reeves Park resident Jeff Fuchs, 43, made his way up the storm-battered beach access ramp in his GMC four-wheel drive vehicle Tuesday evening after hanging out with friends at the beach after work.

He said he’s seen the beach come and go from many storms over the years and has no doubt Reeves Beach would return.

“No matter what happens to it the beach it always comes back,” Mr. Fuchs said.

psquire@timesreview.com

This story first appeared in the March 21 News-Review newspaper.

03/19/13 3:00pm
03/19/2013 3:00 PM

TROY GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | Rabbit Lane in East Marion was among the streets hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy on the North Fork.

North Fork business owners and others impacted by Hurricane Sandy have just one week left to secure a disaster loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The deadline to apply for the 30-year loans of up to $2 million is March 29, SBA officials said.

“The loans can serve as bridge money for business owners fighting it out with their insurance companies,” said SBA spokesman John Oliver Frederick.

The loans are not limited to people whose businesses suffered physical damage. Economic injury loans are available to those who saw a decline in business as a direct result of the storm and the deadline for those loans is June 30. Mr. Frederick has been making his way around the North Fork this week, speaking with farm and vineyard owners who suffered both physical and economic damages.

“I’ve had vineyard owners telling me business is down 25, 30 percent this winter,” he said. “An economic injury loan can help mitigate that.”

Interest rates on the loans for small businesses are between 4 and 6 percent, and as low as 3 percent for nonprofits.

The SBA also offers home disaster loans of up to $200,000 for homeowners or renters who had to repair or replace disaster-damaged real estate or personal property. Interest rates on the home disaster loans range from 1.7 to 3.4 percent.

More than $1.2 billion in federal disaster assistance was approved for Sandy victims in New York, including $61 million dedicated for Suffolk County, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Of the seven counties receiving disaster aid, Suffolk was awarded the fifth most. Nassau County topped the list at $269 million, FEMA officials said.

North Fork residents and business owners interested in applying for a loan can do so online at sba.gov. For more information call (800) 659-2955. To meet with an SBA representative, business recovery centers have been set up at Islip Town Hall and Copiague Public Library.

gparpan@timesreview.com

03/09/13 11:00am
03/09/2013 11:00 AM
Sandy damaged cars in Calverton

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Vehicles being transported from the EPCAL site last week.

Only one of two runways at the Enterprise Park at Calverton (EPCAL) still has Hurricane Sandy-damaged cars parked on it.

Insurance Auto Auctions, an Illinois-based company that has been storing flood-damaged cars on both runways at the former F-14 test site since the storm, has had all the cars removed from the eastern runway, which is still used for aviation.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Sandy-damaged vehicles being transported from the EPCAL site last week.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The eastern runway at EPCAL has had all cars removed from it.

But while that might delight environmentalists who have raised concerns over the cars, that’s not the best news for Riverhead Town finances, since the town stood to make up to $2.7 million from IAA depending on how long the cars stayed there.

“I have a feeling they are going to be [completely] out of there by June, that’s what their goal is,” said Supervisor Sean Walter.

Mr. Walter said the cars being stored by Copart, another auction company, on grasslands at EPCAL owned privately by Jan Burman, have been moved off the grass and now are being stored on privately owned taxiways that run along the eastern runway.

DEC COURTESY PHOTO |  Sandy-damaged cars parked on grasslands at EPCAL in early January.

DEC COURTESY PHOTO | Sandy-damaged cars parked on grasslands at EPCAL in early January.

There still are cars being kept on the western runway by IAA. That runway is no longer actively used for aviation. The cars at EPCAL are all total-loss cars acquired by insurance companies, which then use the auction company to sell them for parts or to licensed recyclers.

SkyDive Long Island had been using the eastern runway but the company signed an agreement with IAA in December through which they were reimbursed for the loss of the runway use while cars were stored on the active runway for up to four months.

Following Hurricane Sandy, which flooded more than 200,000 cars in the tri-state area last year, the town agreed to lease 52.14 acres on the inactive 7,000-foot runway as well as taxiways to the west of the EPCAL property to IAA for six months, and then followed that up by agreeing to an arrangement with IAA and SkyDive Long Island that shut down the active 10,000-foot runway on the eastern part of EPCAL so that IAA could store more cars.

The first deal, using runways and taxiways on the western runway, will net the town over $1 million for six months, with an option for another six months, which could double that amount. The second deal using only the eastern runway but not the eastern taxiways, netted the town $670,000 with a four-month limit on how long the cars could stay.

Parts of the eastern runway’s taxiways, which runs along private properties, are privately owned by adjoining landowners, town officials said. The terms of any financial arrangement between Mr. Berman’s company and the taxiway owner or owners were unavailable. Mr. Berman could not be reached for comment.

The runway leases added a boost to the town’s reserves, and Mr. Walter said he’s still hopeful the town will net around $2 million from the cars in Calverton when all is said and done.

“I hope they stay till October but they’ve already cleaned off the 10,000-foot runway,” Mr. Walter said. The town will definitely get more than $1 million from the runway leases, he said, and possibly about $2 million.

The cars that were being stored on Mr. Burman’s land came as part of a private deal between his company and Copart USA, an auto auction company in Brookhaven hamlet. The town is not involved in that deal.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation has issued violations to Copart and Mr. Burman for storing the cars on the grass. The DEC has said it had no objections to cars being stored on the runways or taxiways, which are paved, although Richard Amper of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society has called for the town to end that practice as well, saying rainwater runoff can carry pollutants from the cars into the groundwater.

Mr. Walter said he wasn’t sure exactly when the cars were removed from the grass, only that it happened “recently.”

In addition to the town and Mr. Burman, storm-damaged cars also are being stored on a paved parking lot on the south part of EPCAL, on land owned by Laoudis Of Calverton LLC, which owns the Mivila Foods facility there.

Representatives from IAA could not immediately be reached for comment.

tgannon@timesreview.com

03/01/13 8:00am
03/01/2013 8:00 AM
EPCAL Cars Sandy in Calverton

FREDDIE FOGGIE JR.

A 40-year-old South Carolina man transporting Sandy-damaged cars from the Enterprise Park at Calverton to Detroit was arrested Thursday after cops found him in possession of a loaded 9-mm handgun, Suffolk County police said.

DEC COURTESY PHOTO | Hurricane Sandy damaged cars parked on the grasslands at EPCAL.

DEC COURTESY PHOTO | Hurricane Sandy damaged cars parked on the grasslands at EPCAL.

Freddie Foggie Jr. of Boiling Springs, S.C. was also driving on a suspended license at the time, police said.

The arrest comes about seven months after Mr. Foggie was charged in a fatal accident in North Carolina that killed a 72-year-old Florida man who was a prominent developer, according to charlotteobserver.com.

In that case, two cars being hauled by Mr. Foggie somehow came loose, fell off the truck and struck cars that were traveling behind, the Observer reports, citing a crash report.

News reports and court records show he’s due back in a North Carolina court March 7 for misdemeanor charges.

On Thursday, Mr. Foggie was stopped along the Long Island Expressway in Islandia, near the Exit 58 Park and Ride, about 5:50 p.m. when Suffolk County police officer Robert Copozzi noticed equipment violations on a Chevy pickup truck, which had a trailer hauling three cars, police said.

During a routine safety inspection, Officer Copozzi noticed the handgun, which was loaded with a high-capacity magazine, and arrested Mr. Foggie, also issuing him nine tickets for a score of safety violations.

The truck, owned by JK Trucking and Auto Sales in Mississippi, was taking the vehicles from a Sandy-damaged car storage site at the enterprise park and taking them to Michigan, Suffolk Police said.

Mr. Foggie is facing a third-degree criminal possession of a weapons charge and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, police said.

He was scheduled to appear in First District Court in Central Islip Friday, officials said.

There are three sites at the EPCAL property — a former Grumman Corporation fighter jet testing facility — at which thousands of storm-damaged cars are being stored. Two are through agreements with Riverhead Town to store cars on town-owned runways at the property.

A third storage site is on grass on private property, at which the DEC has ordered the cars be removed over environmental concerns.

Those cars have not been removed, said Supervisor Sean Walter.

“They are [still] being stored illegally,” Mr. Walter said of the cars on private property, owned by Jan Burman.

“The DEC has ordered Burman to remove the cars, so hopefully the DEC will be victorious in getting these cars out of there,” he said. “He’s going to have to remediate that entire site, from what I understand, because it is one of those grassland areas that are supposed to be protected.

“So I don’t know how much that’s going to cost him.”

Mr. Burman could not be immediately reached for comment.

“There’s going to be a lot of this,” Mr. Walter continued about storm-damaged cars being sold off at out-of-state dealers. “There’s no possible way I’m buying a used car right now. These titles are going to wind up in other states, with their titles washed away.They’ll end up overseas and in Mexico.”

As for some the drivers leaving the sites, Mr. Walter also said many of them are taking to side roads in violation of weight limits.

“We’ve been all over these drivers; these 3/4-ton pickup trucks with the trailer are over our weight restrictions for a part of River Road, Wading River Manor Road,” Mr. Walter said.

“They’re writing tickets,” he said of town police efforts to curb the activity.

Read more about the cars at EPCAL

02/28/13 4:40pm
02/28/2013 4:40 PM
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Governor Andrew Cuomo shares his "State of the State" address at Stony Brook University Thursday afternoon.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Governor Andrew Cuomo shares his “State of the State” address at Stony Brook University Thursday afternoon.

New Yorkers will learn from the destruction and disasters in the wake of Hurricane Sandy — and we’ll come back stronger because of it.

So vowed Governor Andrew Cuomo at a “State of the State” address Thursday he delivered at Stony Brook University.

“There was a silver lining to this storm,” Mr. Cuomo said. “You saw New Yorkers coming together to help each other in an unprecedented way … There is such power in that unity, there is such strength in that unity.”

He delivered the speech hours after he presented his plan for the coming year to an audience in Brooklyn.

Mr. Cuomo also described his plans for increased investment in start-up businesses, women’s equality legislation, and more and better education for New York children.

Here are some of the highlights of Mr. Cuomo’s proposals:

• Mr. Cuomo proposed adding more schooling for the state’s children, including pre-kindergarten for all New Yorkers.

Although he supports increasing time in the classroom so students can learn more, he said it would be up to each district to determine whether they would make school days longer, make the school year longer, a combination of both, or to leave their year the same length. Mr. Cuomo added the state would pay for “100 percent” of the initial costs for extended education in the state’s districts.

• He will work to raise the minimum wage to $8.75 per hour, saying the current minimum wage of $7.25 is not enough to sustain a working family and was less than surrounding states.

“It’s the right thing to do, it’s the fair thing to do, it’s long overdue in my opinion,” Mr. Cuomo said.

• He will not seek to raise taxes this year, to change the stereotype of New York being a “tax capital.” At the same time, he said he would close the $1 billion budget deficit by finding “efficiencies in the state government.”

• The key to economic success for New York state is to build regional economies, Mr. Cuomo said. Long Island, he added, is a much different economy than those in Buffalo or Rochester. He said he would continue work on the state’s Regional Development Council program and propose business incubators to entice students and entrepreneurs to start businesses in the state.

• Mr. Cuomo praised the state’s decisions to legalize gay marriage and enforce stricter gun controls, saying the state had a responsibility as a “progressive” state to lead the way on social issues. He proposed a “women’s equality act” which would close the gap between men’s and women’s salaries, introduce zero-tolerance rules against sexual harassment, fight workplace discrimination due to gender and protect abortion rights.

The audience gave the governor a standing ovation after he announced the plan.

• The state will dump in more than 3 million cubic yards of sand to restore the Long Island’s beaches damaged in superstorm Sandy. Mr. Cuomo said the beaches will be reopened by Memorial Day.

• Mr. Cuomo proposed “hardening” state utility systems to prevent future incidents like the gas shortages after Sandy and widespread power outages.

• Mr. Cuomo said the state will fund buyouts for homeowners who wish to leave flood-threatened areas. Homes will be purchased back at pre-storm prices, he said.

• The state will work to provide grants to local municipalities that need funds to make storm repairs and improvements, Mr. Cuomo said.

psquire@timesreview.com

02/28/13 10:00am
TIM GANNON PHOTO | The Henry Pfeiffer building on Grumman Boulevard goes mostly unused.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | The Henry Pfeifer building on Grumman Boulevard goes mostly unused.

Riverhead Town’s sparsely-used Henry Pfeifer Community Center on Grumman Boulevard in Calverton may have a new purpose, as the town’s new animal shelter.

A group called Riverhead Move the Animal Shelter, headed by Denise Lucas, has been holding fundraisers for more than a year trying to raise money to build a new animal shelter for the town. The current shelter, on Youngs Avenue, is considered to be too small, and in a bad location, with a recycling facility surrounding it and the town landfill across the street.

While the RMTAS group had been considering building a new building, the idea of the using the Pfeifer Center was suggested last week by Supervisor Sean Walter and Councilman Jim Wooten, and was discussed at Thursday’s Town Board work session.

(See what else happened at Thursday’s work session by clicking below.)

That idea has met with support from Ms. Lucas’s group, from the majority of the Town Board and from the nonprofit North Fork Animal Welfare League, which takes over the operation of the town shelter on Friday morning.

Mr. Wooten said he originally thought a new animal shelter should be built behind the new dog park RMTAS built at EPCAL. But the cost of building a new building, along with the cost of extending the town’s sewer lines to the building, would be in the millions, officials said.

The cost of retrofitting the Pfeifer Center into a dog shelter could be done much quicker and with much less cost, officials said.

“I think I could get it done in a matter of months,” Ms. Lucas said in an interview, adding that the timing would be up to the town, since they are raising money to give to the town for a new shelter.

Meanwhile NFAWL has received a $300,000 bequest to build a new animal shelter and they have been planning to use it on a new cat shelter and spay/neuter clinic which they had proposed to locate on land leased from Rex and Connie Farr on Youngs Avenue.

But that proposal has met with widespread community opposition, and if NFAWL can build that facility on the town-owned land by the Pfeifer building, that controversy would go away. The bequest money cannot be used on a town-owned building, but the town could sign a long-term lease to allow NFAWL to situate the building at the Pfeifer property, officials said.

The proposed cat shelter was on the agenda at Thursday night’s Riverhead Zoning Board of Appeals meeting, where the hearing was held over for 30 days, but which time, officials said, they believe a decision on the Pfeifer site might be finalized, and the Youngs Avenue proposal might be withdrawn.

To read News-Review reporter Tim Gannon’s blog on else happened at Thursday’s work session, click here:

 

 

February 28, 2013 – Agenda by rnews_review

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Suffolk County FEMA official Jeff Simons (center) at Thursday morning’s town work session.

01/24/13 6:00am
01/24/2013 6:00 AM
TIM GANNON PHOTO  |  A giant pile of superstorm Sandy debris has sat in front of Sheila Ganetis' Morningside Avenue home in Jamesport for almost two months. Town officials say she'll need to pay to get the junk removed.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | A giant pile of superstorm Sandy debris has sat in front of Sheila Ganetis’ Morningside Avenue home in Jamesport for almost two months. Town officials say she’ll need to pay to get the junk removed.

To the editor:

I read in the News-Review an article concerning the debris left over from Hurricane Sandy and the town’s refusal to pick it up from the front of Sheila Ganetis’ property in Jamesport.

Back in October I saw dozens of homes with plastic bags filled with leaves sitting at the side of town roads. I sent an e-mail to the Town Board wondering about this and if the town would be picking them up. A reply indicated that the town would only pick up leaves that were in paper bags, and would not pick up leaves in plastic bags.

This month the town started picking up the last of the debris left over from the hurricane along Peconic Bay Boulevard. This included tree stumps and limbs, lumber and other assorted debris. With this pickup the dozens of plastic bags of leaves, as well as piles of loose leaves, had suddenly disappeared.

I sent another e-mail to the Town Board asking about why the town had now decided to pick up leaves in plastic bags, and in response Town Board member Giglio replied: “The decision to pick up those leaves is the sole discretion of the highway superintendent.”

So I now have to wonder why in certain areas of Jamesport everything is being picked up regardless of what was stated previously, while in other areas town officials are saying it’s not their responsibility?

Thomas W. Smith,

JAMESPORT

To read all of the Letters to the Editor, pick up a copy of the News-Review on newsstands or click on the E-Paper.

01/11/13 8:00am
01/11/2013 8:00 AM

DEC COURTESY PHOTO | Hurricane Sandy damaged cars parked on the grasslands at EPCAL.

For weeks, environmental activists have pressed authorities to remove thousands of cars damaged by superstorm Sandy from the Enterprise Park at Calverton, saying the stored cars pose a pollution hazard because leaking fluids could seep into groundwater.

But local environmental and automotive experts say there’s nothing to worry about.

Mechanics and environmental consultants interviewed by the News-Review all agreed salt water from Sandy alone would not have caused those cars to rust to the point of leaking fluids.

“I certainly don’t believe the corrosive nature of salt water is so aggressive that it’s going to go through a gas tank in a few months,” said Mark Miller, owner of environmental services company Miller Environmental Group. “If you drive around in the wintertime you’re probably exposing the underbody of the car to as much, if not more, salt [than Sandy’s surge].”

Peter Ryan, a mechanic at Flanders Automotive, said that the very soonest cars might corrode to the point of leakage would be six months after initial exposure to salt water. But it would take the cars currently stored at EPCAL even longer to reach that point, he said.

“[Corrosion] could happen pretty quickly if the car is being used, but these cars are not,” he said. “Since these cars are just sitting there these cars are going to corrode a lot slower.”

Some mechanics polled said it might even take years for saltwater corrosion to cause battery fluid, gas or oil to leak. Other automotive professionals said the only way a flooded car would start leaking was if it had already been damaged before the storm.

A vehicle that sustained punctures from debris would also leak, said Harvey Bagshaw, owner of Starlite Auto Body in Mattituck.

“But it would leak out before the car even got [to EPCAL],” Mr. Bagshaw said. “I don’t see the problem.”

He added that any leaks from cars at EPCAL at this point would be “negligible.”

IAA, the auction company renting the tarmac space from Riverhead Town, has said that individual cars stored at EPCAL remain there an average of 45 to 60 days.

Last month, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation did order cars parked on private grasslands at EPCAL to be removed.

But that enforcement action was carried out because the trucks loading and unloading the damaged cars threatened to crush the habitats of endangered salamanders in the area, not because of potential fluid leaks.

A DEC spokesperson said the cars on that private property are now being removed.

The operation on Riverhead Town’s land was allowed to continue because no environmental protection laws were broken, as the cars are restricted to runways and taxiways.

“The cars parked on the tarmac are not causing a violation of any DEC laws,” the spokesman said adding that IAA “has followed all guidelines established by DEC.”

Mr. Miller said the DEC is right: The cars at EPCAL are harmless.

“We have numerous examples of large areas where cars are parked and there’s no environmental concern,” he said. “I would suggest that the opportunity for [cars] leaking some of the [fluid] is probably greater at any parking lot at Tanger, at the Strawberry Festival or in someone’s driveway than at EPCAL.”

That’s because those cars are being heated up and cooled off before and after they’re parked.

“Cars usually don’t leak anything when they’re cold,” Mr. Miller said. In order to affect the water table, many of the cars at EPCAL would need to be leaking fluids, he said, which he contends isn’t happening.

Most of the cars at EPCAL are late model vehicles, he added, which is further proof that they pose no threat, because newer models are made of more resilient materials.

Mr. Miller said he can understand why environmental activists would be concerned, but said he has “numerous examples” proving that cars parked like the ones at EPCAL are not a hazard.

“There are plenty of things to be concerned about for the environment,” he said. “I don’t think this is one of them.”

psquire@timesreview.com