03/03/14 8:51pm
03/03/2014 8:51 PM
COURTESY PHOTO | People skydiving in a vertical wind tunnel. Skydive Long Island is looking to build a new indoor skydiving facility in Calverton.

Skydive Long Island is looking to build a new indoor skydiving facility in Calverton. (Credit: Courtesy)

The Riverhead Industrial Development Agency has approved partial property tax abatements for two new projects planned for the Enterprise Park at Calverton.


12/11/13 9:35pm
12/11/2013 9:35 PM
COURTESY PHOTO | People skydiving in a vertical wind tunnel. Skydive Long Island is looking to build a new indoor skydiving facility in Calverton.

COURTESY PHOTO | People skydiving in a vertical wind tunnel. Skydive Long Island is looking to build a new indoor skydiving facility in Calverton.

The latest round of the New York Regional Economic Development Council awards were announced Wednesday and more than $4 million is coming directly to the North Fork.

A total of $715.9 million in state funds and tax credits were awarded to the 10 regional councils across New York. Long Island is receiving $83 million for a total of 98 projects, the most of any region in the state.

Nine of those projects are on the North Fork.

Below is a list of each of the local projects, the name of the applicant, the state’s description of the project and the amount awarded.

Projects are listed in descending order based on the total number of dollars received.

Town of Riverhead Community Development Agency

Project: EPCAL Sewer Treatment Upgrade

Funding: $1.34 million

Description: Upgrade of Calverton sewage treatment plant from secondary to tertiary treatment, which will provide both economic development and environmental benefits to this regionally significant project site with immediate potential for job creation benefit.

EBDK Research at Calverton 

Project: CARE NY (Calverton Addiction Research and Education Research Center)

Funding: $1 million

Description: CARE NY (Calverton Addiction Research Education), a substance addiction Research Center and a separate Recovery Center, will construct an addiction research and education center at the Calverton Enterprise Park to complement an adjacent proposed treatment center.

Peconic Landing

Project: Special Needs and Acute Rehabilitation Center

Funding: $800,000

Description: This $44 million project is the expansion of dementia care and rehabilitation facility in Greenport.

Long Island Wine Council

Project: Access East End

Funding: $285,000

Description: This program is a multimodal transportation and marketing initiative to generate visitor traffic from the NY metro area, east coast, national and international source markets during off-season and midweek periods. By opening the East End of Long Island to new customers from the NY metro area and other east coast population centers, we expect that this program will draw thousands of new visitors to the region.

Skydive Long Island 

Project: Altitude Express Indoor Skydiving Facility

Funding: $250,000

Description: Altitude Express Inc. will build an indoor skydiving attraction on Long Island which will operate year round. The company anticipates this attraction will draw another 50,000-100,000 visitors to the area annually.

East End Arts Humanities Council

Project: Long Island Winterfest

Funding: $162,000

Description: East End Arts is requesting grant funds to support an expanded marketing strategy and to hire a festival coordinator to support the implementation of a five-year strategic plan toward a goal of growth and sustainability of LIWinterfest: Live on the Vine, an award winning agricultural tourism program designed to generate tourism traffic to the East End of Long Island during the slowest months.

East End Arts Humanities Council

Project: Winterfest Expansion Project

Funding: $99,408

Description: East End Arts will expand marketing strategies and hire a festival coordinator to improve growth and sustainability of its LI Winterfest — an award winning agri-cultural tourism program. The six-week program of live music performances at wineries, theaters and area hotels, along with special promotions at restaurants, hotels, transportation companies and area businesses generates tourism traffic to East End of Long Island during the off-season months.

Sidor Farms 

Project: Business Expansion

Funding: $50,000

Description:  The Cutchogue company will expand its potato chip manufacturing operation and tour facility including a museum on the History of Long Island Potato Farming.

Ultra Motion 

Project: Advanced Manufacturing Skills Program

Funding: $30,000

Description: Ultra Motion LLC of Cutchogue will train six workers in IPC (Institute for Printed Circuits) J-STD-001D Soldering Certification, computer-aided design, inventory control, and supply chain management.

[email protected]

11/05/13 7:48am
11/05/2013 7:48 AM

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | (L-R) IDA executive director Tracy Stark-James takes notes as Skydive Long Island owner Ray Maynard and Barbara Schiano speak to the IDA board Monday night.

Plans to build a two-story tall indoor skydiving tunnel are a little bit closer to taking flight.

The proposal — a new building to house the unique attraction at Skydive Long Island in the Enterprise Park at Calverton — will be subject to a public hearing over requested tax incentives in December, after members of Riverhead’s Industrial Development Agency expressed support for the proposal, with one member of the board calling the plan a “home run.”

COURTESY PHOTO | People skydiving in a vertical wind tunnel.

COURTESY PHOTO | People skydiving in a wind tunnel.

“That’s a really great project,” said IDA executive director Tracy Stark-James at the board’s meeting Monday night in Riverhead Town Hall. “It’s truly a regional draw.”

Skydive Long Island owner Ray Maynard and Barbara Schiano, his wife, told the board their planned attraction would not only allow skydivers to practice jumps in a safe environment, but would also draw tens of thousands more into town during the typical skydiving off-season to experience the indoor wind tunnel — without having to get in a plane.

“There are many people who just go to these indoor wind tunnels to experience freefall who never go skydiving,” Ms. Schiano said.

Skydive Long Island would build a four-story tall building to house the 18-feet high, 14.5-foot wide vertical wind tunnel, which would use giant fans to lift customers into the air.

“It’s going to bring a lot more people to the town,” Mr. Maynard said, adding that the nearest indoor skydiving attractions were in New Hampshire and North Carolina.

Mr. Maynard also said that, while tunnels are used by professional skydivers to train, the general public could buy time inside the tunnel with an instructor in 2-minute blocks. Up to six experienced skydivers could use the tunnel for practicing formation diving.

The project — estimated to cost between $4.5 million to $5 million — would also feature glass running windows along the side of the tunnel, allowing onlookers to see in. It would take up to a year to build the structure, Ms. Schiano said.

Skydive Long Island — which has been in operation out of Calverton since 2000 — is asking for three types of tax incentives: a sales tax exemption, a mortgage tax exemption and a deal on its real property taxes, Ms. Stark-James said.

The sales tax exemption would apply to all construction material purchases, from building supplies to lighting fixtures for the new building.

Skydive Long Island has already secured partial funding for the project through the U.S. Small Business Administraiton, which doesn’t require mortgage tax to be paid. The local mortgage recording tax exemption would apply to the remainder not covered under the SBA and would eliminate the usual 1.05 percent tax.

The final incentive is to reduce the real property tax assessment, Ms. Stark-James said. The IDA’s standard property tax abatement reduces the assessed value of the new additions to the property by 50 percent; the assessed value of the property excluding the new additions is unaffected, meaning taxes on the existing property wouldn’t change. The property would gain an additional 5 percent on its assessed value each year until it hit the full 100 percent of its value, Ms. Stark-James said.

For example, if a property were worth $50,000 and another $10,000 in assessed value were added, the property’s abated assessed value would be $55,000 in the first year of the abatement, increasing by 5 percent each year until it reached the full $60,000.

While the 50 percent initial abatement is the typical IDA offer, Ms. Stark-James said Skydive Long Island was planning to request more of an abatement from the IDA. While board members didn’t reveal whether they would support the incentives, all expressed admiration for Mr. Maynard, a longtime local business owner.

The proposed incentives will be open for public comment at the IDA’s next meeting in early December. In the meantime, Ms. Schiano said the company is working on getting the necessary zoning permits to build the new attraction.

“This is going to be another iconic attraction [for Riverhead],” she said. “There’s nothing like it in the area.”

[email protected]

10/25/13 5:04pm
10/25/2013 5:04 PM
Courtesy Canopies for Kids Website

Courtesy Canopies for Kids Website

On Saturday, a group of expert skydivers will give children at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital “The Bravest Teddy Bears in the World” – in the hope that the special bears will help give young patients the courage they need in to fight on.

Divers from Skydive Long Island in Calverton will take about 25 bears on a and free fall of about 13,500 feet soaring over Eastern Long Island.

It is part of a national project called “Canopies for Kids,” ran buy a nonprofit that rallies skydiving enthusiasts to takes teddies from the sky and gets them into the arms of sick children nationwide.

The dive will take place Saturday, at noon, and the bears will be delivered to children with a personalized message from the skydiver, according to Stony Brook.

For more information about the event contact Skydive Long Island at 631-208-3900.

09/16/13 8:00am
09/16/2013 8:00 AM
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Skydive Long Island and All-Star bowling sponsored Sunday's human bowling ball event to benefit Brendan House.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Skydive Long Island and All-Star bowling sponsored Sunday’s human bowling ball event to benefit Brendan House.

Sound Beach resident Pawel Bistram really is Superman.

Wearing a shirt featuring the superhero’s iconic logo, he soared through the air Sunday afternoon in Calverton after jumping out of an airplane. He then turned himself into a “human bowling ball” and struck a bunch of novelty-sized inflatable pins, knocking them all down with his body.

He was the only person to have a strike at the area’s first-ever human bowling ball event. The fundraiser was sponsored by Skydive Long Island and All-Star bowling in Riverhead and benefits Brendan House, a group care facility planned for Riverhead.

“It was awesome,” Mr. Bistram said shortly after jumping. “I must have had perfect timing and the wind was just right.”

Fellow skydiver Domenick Gilio of Setauket also had a successful jump, leaving only two standing.

“It was a lot of fun,” he said. “I tried to hit as many pins as possible with my body by spreading my legs as wide as I could.”

Nancy Reyer, whose 17-year-old son, Michael Hubbard, plans to move into Brendan House when it opens, attended the event and said she’s grateful for all the support from participants. The facility is estimated to open within the next four months.

“The community has been behind us 100 percent,” she said as her eyes teared up. “Everyone has been really good to us.”

Ms. Reyer said she plans to skydive for the first time on Michael’s 18th birthday Aug. 16 to raise additional funds for Brendan House.

Her son suffered third-degree burns over 40 percent of his body after being burned by a gel candle that exploded in his backyard May 28, 2011. He went into cardiac arrest a week later, causing traumatic brain injury, as well as kidney failure and lung distress. Michael was originally taken to Stony Brook University Medical Center, but was moved to Blythedale that September.

Blythedale, a short-term care facility, could no longer keep Michael for the extended care he needs, his mother has said. It left her looking for other facilities.

In June, he moved to Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead with much fanfare, an arrangement Ms. Reyer said she’s very pleased with.

“His physical therapy at PBMC is nothing but the best,” she said. “Michael was born there and was raised in Riverhead … Every day is a new day and he’s making progress.”

As for the unique fundraising idea, Ms. Reyer said one of her grade-school friends works at Skydive Long Island and had talked to the owners about holding a benefit there for Brendan House.

The timing was good because over the past six months Skydive and All-Star have been coming up with cross-promotional ideas and developing community fundraisers. Recently, the small business owners created a cocktail called LIV free or DIVE. It’s made with locally produced Long Island Spirits’ LIV vodka from Baiting Hollow.

All-Star co-owner Peter Sgroi said he’s happy to be a part of the area’s first human bowling ball event and described it as a fun way to help the community.

“It couldn’t be more perfect,” Mr. Sgroi said of Sunday’s fundraiser. “The turnout is great and the weather couldn’t be better.”

New Beginnings, a Medford nonprofit group that offers support for people with traumatic brain injuries and owns Brendan House, is holding a country fair Sept. 29 at Brendan House to raise funds for the facility. The event will include pig and duck races, music from the Boot Scoot Boogie Band, games, prizes and refreshments.

For more information, visit New Beginnings’ website nbli.org.

[email protected]

06/10/13 8:00am
06/10/2013 8:00 AM
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | A skydiver lands in Calverton Sunday afternoon, where more than 40 people jumped out of planes to raise money for veterans mental health.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | A skydiver lands in Calverton Sunday afternoon, where more than 40 people jumped out of planes to raise money for veterans mental health.

When decorated Korean War paratrooper John “Red” Pelan turned 77 in 2008, he had an unusual request for his family and friends. He wanted to jump out of a plane again.

Years after his successful birthday jump, more than 40 people carried on that tradition at Skydive Long Island in Calverton Sunday afternoon, leaping out of planes as part of “Reckless with Red,” an annual skydiving event that raises funds for mental health services for returning veterans.

The fundraiser, now in its sixth year, was named in honor of Mr. Pelan, who served with the 187th Infantry Regiment. Mr. Pelan, like many returning veterans, suffered the effects of untreated post-traumatic stress disorder, event organizers said. The annual jump was founded to raise funds for the Veterans Health Alliance of Long Island, which works to help veterans with mental health and substance abuse issues.

More than 100 people joined the event this year, said organizer and frequent skydiver Rich Muscolino, including 42 tandem skydivers who raised money by having friends and family sponsor their jumps.

The event has raised more than $75,000 for the organization since it began; The event raised about $15,000 last year alone, and each year it gets bigger, Mr. Muscolino said.

“This year we might be in the running to beat that,” he said.

[email protected]

06/06/13 5:00pm
06/06/2013 5:00 PM

COURTESY PHOTO | People skydiving in a vertical wind tunnel.

Afraid of heights but love a thrill, nonetheless?

Well, Skydive Long Island has a new plan in the works that involves skydiving without jumping out of a plane.

The company, based sine 2000 at the Enterprise Park at Calverton, plans to build a vertical wind tunnel on David Court property.

“There’s a thing called indoor skydiving,” said Ray Maynard, SkyDive Long Island’s owner. “You basically have fans blowing the air up at about 156 mph.”

People in the wind tunnel stand in a cylinder that’s about 14 feet high and 16 feet wide and are lifted off the ground and suspended in air by the giants fans, he explained.

“You feel what a free fall feels like without having to worry if your parachute is going to open up,” Mr. Maynard said.

Indoor skydiving is not weather-dependent, it’s a little safer than regular skydiving and children as young as 3 can do it, Mr. Maynard said, although he doesn’t plan to allow kids that young to participate.

He outlined his plan Monday to the Riverhead industrial Development Agency, as he expects to seek IDA tax incentives for the proposed facility.

The vertical wind tunnel would measure 100 by 100 feet and would rise four stories high, Mr. Maynard said and will cost about $4.5 million to $5 million. He plans to build it on the same EPCAL property where Skydive currently operates.

“People who skydive with me presently are driving to New Hampshire or North Carolina to do this, and are spending thousands of dollars a week to do so,” Mr. Maynard told the IDA. “We would be the first such facility in the New York area.”

The wind tunnel will probably double the amount of visitors SkyDive gets, Mr. Maynard said, in part because it can operate year-round, whereas sky diving takes place only between April and November.

He told the IDA board that between 20 and 40 employees would be required to operate and maintain the wind tunnel.

IDA members seemed receptive to the plan, although executive director Tracy Stark-James said the project would also need variances for height and setback distances from the Zoning Board of Appeals and a variance from the Conservation Advisory Committee for being within 150 feet of a wetland.

IDA members said they expect to hold a public hearing on the request for tax abatements sometime in September. The IDA can give tax abatements for mortgage recording tax, sales tax on building supplies and on the assessed value increase of the improvements to the property.

Mr. Maynard said it would probably take about nine months to build the wind tunnel.

“Do you think you might have a zip line too?” IDA member Paul Thompson asked, jokingly referring to a recent proposal to put a zip line along the Peconic River in downtown Riverhead.

[email protected]

12/06/12 10:41pm
12/06/2012 10:41 PM

The Riverhead Chamber of Commerce honored its 2012 “People of the Year” during its annual holiday party Thursday night. The event was held at Vineyard Caterers in Aquebogue.

Here’s what the chamber has to say about this year’s honorees:

Person of the Year

Ray Maynard, Skydive Long Island

“It’s not unusual for Ray to take a leap of faith,” said presenter Tracy Stark James of the Riverhead IDA, the chamber’s treasurer. “So he jumped into Riverhead … and off he flew.”

Business of the Year

Riverhead Raceway, Barbara and Jim Cromarty

“Their business helps drive business to the Town of Riverhead,” said presenter Robert Bugdin of American Tent Company, a chamber board member.

The Cromartys could not attend the dinner since they were traveling to a Nascar event. They did appear via Skype and announced the iconic Indian statue, damaged during Superstorm Sandy, “will be up by Christmas.”

Gold Key Award

Star Confectionery, The Meras Family

“They are a true reflection of the town,” said presenter Tom Lennon of Pine Barrens Printing, chamber director at large.

Brian Stark, who delivered a bit of a roast to the Meras’ said: “The nice thing about Papa Nicks is that you always feel like you’re at home.”

“My parents taught me … you take an interest in your customer,” said Anthony Meras, who then rattled off the regular breakfast, lunch and ice cream orders of a few of the guests at the event.

Agricultural Achievement Award

Long Island Cauliflower Association

“The officers, directors and management of the Long Island Cauliflower Association, some of whom are descendants of its founders, are still committed to the success of the Long Island Cauliflower association and to serving the growers of Long Island,” the Chamber wrote in its program. Chamber executive director Mary Hughes presented the award.

Director of the Year

Carmela DiTalia 

“While always the consummate professional, she always has a fun personality,” said presenter Robert Kern of 2XS Consulting, a chamber board member. Ms. DiTalia is an attorney with Esseks, Hefter & Angel LLP of Riverhead and the secretary of the chamber.

Spirit of Riverhead Award

2012 RHS Girls Basketball Team

“In 2012, we were dazzled by a group of smart and unstoppable girls,” said presenter Janine Nebons of Tanger Outlet Center, the chamber’s president. Accepting for the Blue Waves was coach Dave Spinella, and players Marta Czaplak, Jocelyn Zaneski and Katie McKillop.

Lifetime Service Award

Jesse Goodale, Sr.

“He has lived a life of honesty, integrity and community and it shows,” said presenter Pat Snyder, executive director of East End Arts, a chamber board member. “Riverhead Building Supply is a reflection of its founder.”