03/05/13 1:54pm
03/05/2013 1:54 PM

liveblog

The Riverhead Town Board voted on resolutions dealing with several big projects at its meeting Tuesday afternoon.

The board granted conditional site plan approval for Island Water Park’s cable-towed water skiing park proposal in Calverton.

The board also approved an excavating permit for the a Walmart planned on the west end of Route 58, where work is expected to begin soon.

And a public hearing is now set for a plan to build a gym in the former Woolworth building in downtown Riverhead. That hearing will be March 19, at the board’s 7 p.m. meeting.

News-Review reporter Tim Gannon reported live Tuesday.

Click below to see what transpired.

 

02/21/13 10:00am
02/21/2013 10:00 AM

liveblog

Riverhead Town Board members plan to approve the site plan for Island Water Park’s proposed water skiing park in Calverton at their next regular meeting on March 5.

The board discussed the plan at its public work session Thursday morning in Town Hall.

Island Water Park bought 50 acres from the town in 2003 at the Enterprise Park at Calverton, a former Grumman fighter pilot test site.

The company originally planned to build two artificial, lined lakes for water skiing with motor boats, but it ran into issues with the state Department of Environmental Conservation after hitting groundwater and now plans to run overhead cables that will tow water skiers, instead of boats.

The skiing would take place directly on the groundwater table.

The proposal, which goes back more than 10 years, has approval from the DEC, the Suffolk County Planning Commission and the state Pine Barrens Commission and only needs town site plan approval.

But, since the plan the Pine Barrens Commission approved doesn’t conform to the town’s parking regulations, Island Water Park will need to go back to the Pine Barrens Commission for a re-approval that conforms with the site plan approval.

The town approval will be conditioned on Island Water Park getting Pine Barrens approval, officials say.

Town Board members also voiced support at Thursday’s work session for a gym in about 20,000 square feet of space in the former Woolworth building in downtown Riverhead. That proposal needs a special permit, and officials say they plan to hold a March 19 hearing on it.

The rest of the Woolworth building will have about 20 apartments on the second floor and about 4,000 square feet of stores on the ground floor, fronting Main Street, according to architect Marty Sendlewski, who was representing the building’s owner, Michael Butler.

Mr. Butler’s company, Woolworth Revitalization LLC, purchased the building from Apollo Real Estate Advisors last week for $2.2 million.

To read more about what happened at the work session, click here.

 

February 21, 2013 – Agenda by rnews_review

12/06/12 9:00am
12/06/2012 9:00 AM

TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | The Island Water Park property in Calverton

The Suffolk County Planning Commission recommended approval of Island Water Park’s proposal to tow water skiers in a man-made, groundwater-fed lake in Calverton during a commission meeting Wednesday afternoon in Hauppauge.

The commission vote had 11 members in favor, with Adrienne Esposito, who heads the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, opposed, and Glynis Berry, who owns the Art Sites gallery in Riverhead, abstaining.

Island Water Park bought the 42-acre site at the former Grumman property, now called the Enterprise Park at Calverton, from Riverhead Town in 2003 for $714,000 and originally planned to build two man-made lakes with liners in order to allow motor boats to tow water skiers.

That project received state and town approval but was shut down after the developers struck groundwater while excavating the lakes. They then revised the project to have boats water skiing in the groundwater table, but that proposal was controversial and became involved in litigation for several years, including litigation that pitted Riverhead Town against the state Pine Barrens Commission over which agency had jurisdiction over the project’s review.

Prior to purchasing the town land, Island Water Park had proposed to build the man-made lake off Youngs Avenue in Calverton, but that plan met with opposition from neighbors.

The litigation is now over, and Island Water Park has since revised its plans to eliminate the use of gas-powered motor boats in the groundwater.

Instead, the developers now plan to install an overhead tow system which would pull water skiers through the groundwater-fed lake.

The group’s site plan also calls for other water-related activities such as canoeing, kayaking, sailing, swimming and SCUBA diving, along with the construction of two buildings totaling 52,000 square feet that would house offices, a fitness center, a sport shop, a restaurant and snack bar, meeting rooms and a warehouse, according to the application.

There also would be outdoor space for things like volleyball, picnicking and hiking.

The developers have a state DEC excavating permit, and it the DEC has issued what’s called a negative declaration, meaning the project will not have a negative effect on the environment, Suffolk’s chief planner, Andrew Freleng said.

The DEC also said the project is far enough away from endangered tiger salamanders breeding ponds in Calverton so that it will not harm them.

The plan calls for construction of a concrete barrier along the south and west sides of the property to prevent the tiger salamanders from entering the site.

Ms. Esposito doubted the groundwater plan would work.

“Mark my words, they will come back within the next decade and say they need more water,” she said.

She feels they will eventually seek to pump groundwater into the lake to fill it, which she fears will deplete the groundwater.

Commission chairman Dave Calone said the DEC looked into these issues and gave them a permit.

“Right now, we have a hole in the ground,” he said, indicating that the proposed lake and recreation facility would be an improvement over that.

The project also meets the intent of the town’s Planned Recreational Park zoning district for the site, county officials said.

Ms. Berry said she would like more information about how the project went from a lake with a liner to protect the groundwater to a lake with no liner after the developer struck groundwater.

“I would rather they had a liner,” she said.

There was no one from Island Water Park present at Wednesday’s meeting.

“This will be one of the nicest places in the Northeast to go,” Island Water Park owner Eric Scott told the News-Review artier this year.

Island Water Park still needs site plan approval from Riverhead Town  to proceed with the project as planned.

The park also needs approvals from the inter-agency NYS Pine Barrens Commission.

tgannon@timesreview.com

01/22/12 10:59am
01/22/2012 10:59 AM

TIM GANNON FILED PHOTO | The Island Water Park property in Calverton

Island Water Park has filed an application with the state Department of Environmental Conservation to build a water skiing and wake boarding operation in Calverton that uses electric-powered cables, instead of boats, to pull skiers.

The project also proposes to construct offices, a restaurant, fitness center, warehouse, parking area and maintenance facility.

There will just be one building constructed, according to Island Water Park owner Eric Scott. The plans also call for a picnic area and beach volleyball courts, and eliminate the motorcross racing facility Mr. Scott had previously proposed.

The skiers would be moving about 15 miles per hour, Mr. Scott said, adding that over the years he’s spent more than $4 million on the project beyond the land acquisition costs.

“This will be one of the nicest places in the Northeast to go to, I’m not kidding you,” Mr. Scott said in an interview Friday. “They just opened one of these in Ohio and it’s doing unbelievably. On Long Island, what we have for our kids to do? They have to leave Long Island to have any fun.”

The complex will have an on-site sanitary system, and portions of the site will be re-vegetated, the plans say.

Island Water Park’s 42-acre property was the first Riverhead Town sold at the former naval weapons plant now called the Enterprise Park at Calverton, or EPCAL, and it went for  $714,000 in 2003. The company is technically applying for a renewed DEC reclamation, or mining, permit to continue to work on the land, which had been previously mined for sand. The application, filed this month, proposes “to reclaim a site that was previously mined by creating a groundwater fed recreational pond with an electric cable tow system for water skiing and wake boarding.”

The revised project still doesn’t sit well with environmental activist Richard Amper, who has opposed prior versions of Island Water Park’s plan.

“I don’t think water sports in the Pine Barrens over the aquifer was a very good idea from the get-go,” he said, adding that he fully expected the application to be OK’d.

The DEC currently has a written comment period on the plan which ends on Feb. 18. The comments can be sent to Mark Carrara, NYSDEC Region 1 Headquarters SUNY/Stony Brook, 50 Circle Rd, Stony Brook, NY 11790. The phone number is (631)444-0365 and the email is: r1dep@gw.dec.state.ny.us.

Read more in Thursday’s Riverhead News-Review.

tgannon@timesreview.com

11/18/10 8:53pm
11/18/2010 8:53 PM

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Island Water Park is now looking to have an overhead cable pull water skiers over a man-made at its EPCAL property, pictured in March, where an earlier attempt at building two man-made lakes in which power boats would pull skiiers was stopped after the excavation hit groundwater.

The proposed Island Water Park in Calverton is dropping plans to have motorboats pull water skiers over a man-made lake at EPCAL, as well as plans to use another section of their 42 acre property for motorcross riders.

Instead, they now are proposing an alternate plan in which water skiers would be pulled over the man-made lake by an overhead cable.

The motorcross proposal would be dropped entirely.

Tom Cramer, a consultant for Island Water Park owner Eric Scott, discussed the changes with the Riverhead Town Board on Thursday, but he said obstacles at the state level still need to be resolved before the project, which was first proposed 13 years ago, can move forward.

Water skiing cables involve having a cable that is attached to a structure on either side of the water that pulled the skier mechanically. Such facilities exist in places like Florida and Texas and in other countries.

Island Water Park originally proposed to build a man-made lake for water skiing 13 years ago on Youngs Avenue, near the town landfill. But after neighbors objected, town officials at the time suggested they instead build the lake at EPCAL, and the town sold 42 acres there to Island Water Park for $714,000 in 2003.

The project received state and town approval, but when they started excavating the two ponds proposed, the developers hit the ground water table, and the state Department of Environmental Conservation stopped the project. Island Water Park, which originally planned to construct a plastic liner at the bottom of the ponds, then amended their plan to call for skiing directly on the water table, an idea which drew opposition from the Long Island Pine Barrens Society.

The plan was also the subject of litigation between the town and state over whether it and a proposed town park at EPCAL should be required to get approvals from the state’s Pine Barrens Commission.

Island Water Park later revised its plan again to call for one man-made lake, with a liner, where motor boats would pull water skiers, and for the other hole, where the second pond was originally planned, to instead be used for motorcross racing.

But Mr. Cramer said the DEC had concerns about that project too, and so it’s been redesigned to include only the one pond, with water cables instead of boats. The other hole would be refilled.

The water cable system is more expensive to build, although it runs on electricity and is very energy efficient, Mr. Cramer said.

“The cost of running it all day is equivalent to doing two loads of laundry,” he said.

The problem DEC has now is that the existing clearing of the land exceeds the 35 percent clearing limits within the Central Pine Barrens. Island Water Park is located in the compatible growth area of the Pine Barrens, where limited development is allowed, and it’s adjacent to the core area of the Pine Barrens, where no development is allowed.

Town officials have argued that when the town was given to Riverhead from the federal government, that development in EPCAL was supposed to be exempt from the requirements of the Pine Barrens protection act, which is the crux of the lawsuit between the town and state.

“The pine barrens act exempts everything within the fence and the DEC is being disingenuous,” Supervisor Sean Walter said. The Act would not have been passed without Riverhead’s approval in 1995 and the town at that time insisted that development within the fence at EPCAL be excluded.

But he said that exemption was never written into the act, but instead was only included in a comprehensive land use plan accompanying the act.

“Dick Amper hoodwinked the Town of Riverhead by not writing it into the act,” he said of the head of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society, who was instrumental in developing the Pine Barrens law.

Mr. Cramer said the state, which is the lead agency reviewing their application, will not accept a site plan that doesn’t conform to the Pine Barrens regulations.

One proposed solution he is putting forward is to have the town say that a certain amount of land it owns within the core be included toward the 35 percent clearing calculation.

Even thought that land is now owned by Island Water Park, Mr. Cramer argues there are provisions to allow such a proposal if the land is contiguous and if the town writes a covenant stating it will never been developed, which it wouldn’t anyway, since it’s in the Pine Barrens Core. If that is rejected, Island Water Park might have to buy more land to meet the clearing regs, and that would also require filing a subdivision application, he said.

In order for the second pond site to be refilled and re-vegitated so it could be included toward the 35 percent calculation, a hardship permit would be required from the Pine Barrens Commission, he said.

Mr. Walter said the town’s ultimate goal is to have a land use consultant examine the zoning at EPCAL, with possible changes proposed to the recreation zoning, and to subdivide the property into smaller blocks, in order to make it easier to sell in the future.

Mr. Walter said he is one of three town supervisors on the five-member Pine Barrens Commission, the others being Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst and Brookhaven supervisor Mark Lesko, and that he will try to get them to agree to the plan proposed by Mr. Cramer.

“We want to get you guys open,” he said.

tgannon@timesreview.com