05/13/14 5:42pm
05/13/2014 5:42 PM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO  |  Riverhead Republicans celebrate their victorious sweep Election night in downtown Riverhead. From left: committee chairman Mason Haas, Councilwoman Jodi Giglio, Supervisor Sean Walter and Councilman John Dunleavy.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Riverhead Republicans celebrate their victorious sweep Election night in downtown Riverhead. From left: committee chairman Mason Haas, Councilwoman Jodi Giglio, Supervisor Sean Walter and Councilman John Dunleavy.

Riverhead Republican Committee chairman Mason Haas has retained legal counsel and is asking WRIV 1390 radio to save a copy of an interview Republican Town Supervisor Sean Walter did with the station Friday for “possible litigation” against Mr. Walter, according to Mr. Haas and WRIV general manager Bruce Tria. (more…)

05/10/14 9:11am
05/10/2014 9:11 AM
Supervisor Sean Walter. (Credit: Tim Gannon, file)

Supervisor Sean Walter. (Credit: Tim Gannon, file)

The battle between Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter and town Republican leader Mason Haas continues.

Mr. Walter said the GOP leader has now banned Town Board members from attending Republican committee meetings, and that the committee now has a rule requiring candidates to give one-third of their campaign funds over to the committee.   (more…)

04/02/14 12:00pm
04/02/2014 12:00 PM
Riverhead Town Board members at Thursday's meeting. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Riverhead Town Board members at Tuesday’s meeting. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

The Riverhead Town Board remains divided about decisions to enact term limits in Town Hall and whether or not to allow leaders of town political committees to hold elected and appointed positions in town.  (more…)

03/28/14 8:00am
03/28/2014 8:00 AM
Riverhead councilman John Dunleavy (second from left) argues with Supervisor Sean Walter (middle) during Thursday's work session.

Riverhead councilman John Dunleavy (second from left) argues with Supervisor Sean Walter (middle) during Thursday’s work session.

After explaining over the past week how closed-door political caucuses are necessary to prevent Riverhead Town Board members from fighting with each other in public, the members spent much of Thursday’s work session doing just that. (more…)

02/22/14 2:00pm
02/22/2014 2:00 PM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO  |  Neighbors have been complaining about noise and ground shaking near Gershow Recycling on Hubbard Avenue.

Neighbors have complained about noise and ground shaking near Gershow Recycling on Hubbard Avenue. (Barbaraellen Koch file photo)

Neighbors concerned about noise from Gershow Recycling’s Hubbard Avenue facility will get the chance to make some noise of their own April 3.  (more…)

02/07/14 12:00pm
02/07/2014 12:00 PM

Barbaraellen Koch photo | Officer Dan Hogan on patrol on East Main Street in downtown Riverhead.

Last year, the number of criminal incidents reported in Riverhead was at its lowest point in more than a decade, continuing a downward trend that began in the early 2000s, according to annual police data.

While the direct cause of the decline isn’t fully known, local business owners, town officials and law enforcement experts believe that stronger community outreach and increased patrols, along with a nationwide drop in crime, may have played a role, leaving some optimistic that the overall trend will continue.

(more…)

01/24/13 8:00am
01/24/2013 8:00 AM
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

11/17/12 9:33am
11/17/2012 9:33 AM

TIM GANNON PHOTO | The severely eroded bluffs near Hulse Landing Road beach in Wading River.

Work will begin on Monday to repair three large breaches to the ocean barrier beach caused by Hurricane Sandy along the South Shore, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Friday.

But what about the North Shore?

That’s the question Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter and some residents who live along the Long Island Sound are asking, as Hurricane Sandy has erased much of the beach that used to stand between their homes and the water.

“Right now, the mean high water mark is probably in some people’s living rooms,” Mr. Walter said Friday.

“About 70 to 80 feet of beach is just gone,” said Jim Loscalzo, who lives on Creek Road in Wading River.

The beach along Creek Road now is almost up to the houses and bulkheads that have been buried for years are now exposed. In one case, a cesspool ring is visible on the beach.

Mr. Loscalzo, who rode out the storm with his wife, said he lost everything below the first floor of his home, including two cars that flooded.

“We’re very nervous about this situation,” said Ginnie Grieco of Oak Street in Wading River, which is just east of the town beach there. “The storm took most of our beach away.”

Ms. Grieco is planning to initiate a petition drive to get the federal government to rebuilt the beach, much like it’s doing on the South Shore.

“I see them giving a billion dollars to help the South Shore, but why not the North Shore?” she asked. “Right now, high tide is almost in my living room.”

Other areas along the Sound in Riverhead Town also have seen significant erosion since Sandy. The water along the beach at the end of Hulse Landing Road is now right up to the house on the westerly corner of the road, and almost up to the bluffs on the east. Houses on the top of those bluffs are now perilously close to the edge.

At the end of Edwards Avenue in Calverton, the water is also right up to the base of beachfront homes.

Mr. Walter said he attended a Long Island Association breakfast Friday morning at which state Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner Joe Martens spoke on the subject of Hurricane Sandy.

Mr. Walter said he asked the commissioner if there was a way the state or federal government could initiate a project to rebuild the badly eroded Sound beaches by dredging sand from bottom offshore and pumping onto the beach.

He said Mr. Martens told him they’d look into it.

The supervisor said he’s also been in contact with Congressman Tim Bishop’s office.
Oliver Longwell, an aide to Mr. Bishop, said Friday that the process that led to the South Shore projects is different from what would apply to Sound beaches.

“Those are beaches that are managed by the federal government, so that is something the Army Corp has funds already appropriated for, from Fire Island to Montauk Point,” Mr. Longwell said.

On the Sound beaches, he said, Riverhead Town would have to initiate a beach restoration project on its own, and seek reimbursement from the federal government.

He said the town would know in advance if a federal appropriations bill with money for such projects had been approved.

The federal government also will need to provide help by exempting certain projects from standing dredging deadlines. Dredging is usually prohibited during winter flounder and piping plover mating seasons.

Mr. Walter said he understands that the ocean barrier beaches need to be restored, but the North Shore needs help too.

“It’s a mess along the Sound, and we’re trying to get the attention of the powers that be to address it, because if I dredge a little bit of sand out of Wading River Creek, we might be able to help a few homeowners, but we’re not going to be able to do what needs to be done,” Mr. Walter said.

“What we really need is an offshore dredge to come in and dredge the sand out of the Sound and then put it up on the beach.”

And that type of project is expensive, he added.

Even when the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides assistance, the town still must pay 25 percent of the cost.

“If you’re talking about tens of millions of dollars, and the town had to pay 25%, we wouldn’t be able to do it,” Mr. Walter said. “We want to see if we can get them to do it.”

Mr. Loscalzo said that when he bought his property in the mid-1980s the beach along Creek Road looked much like it does now with stairs leading down to the beach. Over the years, the Long Island Lighting Company, LIPA’s predecessor, raised the beach by pumping sand onto it from when it dredged Wading River Creek.

“This storm, in 8 or 9 hours, destroyed everything that’s been done down here,” he said.
He said he rode out Hurricane Gloria in 1985 too, and he thinks Sandy was much worse.

“Sandy made Gloria seem like a wind storm,” he said. “My wife and I stood on our deck and watched telephone poles and boats and everything floating by.”

The town has begun to receive applications from beachfront homeowners seeking to rebuild their bulkheads damaged in the storm, and Mr. Walter said he hopes to have a system in place to expedite those applications.