Town resists YMCA

A pitch by the Peconic YMCA group that would change the location of its proposed facility from Suffolk County-owned land to town-owned land doesn’t appear to have majority support on the Riverhead Town Board.

The Y is proposing to build its recreation center on the soccer fields at the town’s Stotzky Park instead of the neighboring 7.2-acre parcel owned by the county.

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter and council members Jodi Giglio and George Gabrielsen all said they would not support such a move for varying reasons.

“I want them to stay on the county parcel,” Mr. Walter said.

He feels that due to the possibility of the town’s acquiring ownership of the Riverhead Armory property on Route 58 for use as a police station, it would be best to have that land be contiguous to the Stotzky Park land where the soccer fields now are.

Mr. Gabrielsen and Ms. Giglio say they oppose the swap because it doesn’t include an indoor recreation facility that would have basketball and volleyball courts. They say there is strong community demand for such a facility. Peconic YMCA says that facility would be built in a proposed second phase, but that the town would have to contribute about $4 million toward the cost. Councilmen Jim Wooton and John Dunleavy both voiced some support for the deal, which was presented at a public work session by Peconic YMCA representatives last Thursday.

“I personally think this could be a gain-gain for the town,” Mr. Dunleavy said.

YMCA officials are insisting it would be a difficult and lengthy process to build on the county land, which in 2003 was designated as the future home of town-operated ballfields under a deal with the town. No fields were ever build by the town. Putting the YMCA on the town land would allow the process to move faster, they say.

Under the YMCA’s pitch, soccer would be played on the site where the YMCA was originally planning to build a facility; the group would then pay to build new facilities, such as soccer and t-ball fields, on the county land, thereby fulfilling the county’s requirements, YMCA officials said.

The move would relieve the town of the cost of restoring the badly worn soccer fields at Stotzky Park. The town would have to maintain the new fields. The Y is also proposing to build a new parking lot at the site.

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