Film shoot, motorsports pitched for EPCAL

09/30/2010 12:00 AM |

A one-day film shoot and an “autocross” competition are the latest uses being sought for the Enterprise Park at Calverton.

A company called Gotham Arts wants to film at EPCAL for one day, Oct. 4, from sunrise to sunset. During that time, only one vehicle and two actors would be present, said cinematographer Hernan Otano, who addressed the Riverhead Town Board at a public work session last Thursday.

The film is being directed by Rob Feld, and actor Campbell Scott, son of George C. Scott, who starred in the 1970 film “Patton,” will be one of the actors on set, Mr. Otano said.

“I don’t have a problem with it,” said Supervisor Sean Walter, with no other Town Board members objecting.

The autocross proposal was far more controversial.

Jonathan Cohen of the Sports Car Club of America’s New York chapter, explained to the town officials that autocross events are driving-skills contests that emphasize a driver’s ability and a car’s handling while maneuvering around cones on a course — usually in an empty parking lot. Mr. Cohen’s group wants to hold such events on the unused 10,000-foot runway at EPCAL.

Autocross events, he said, are held in the parking lots of the Nassau Coliseum and the New Meadowlands Stadium in New Jersey.

“Speeds are no greater than those normally encountered in legal highway driving,” Mr. Cohen said, noting that cars are never racing against each other at the same time.

The group is initially looking to run a trial event at EPCAL, and then possibly hold a series of events afterward.

Mr. Cohen didn’t mention how much they’d be willing to pay in rent, but said that rent they pay Nassau Coliseum is “three figures.”

The supervisor said the town’s primary goal is to subdivide the property at EPCAL so it can be sold, and he expressed concern that an autocross event there could ruffle feathers at the Department of Environmental Conservation, which is processing the town’s subdivision application.

“I don’t want to tick them off,” Mr. Walter said.

Other Town Board members did not feel autocross would be a problem. “I personally think it’s a low-impact event,” said Councilman Jim Wooten.

“I can’t see anything wrong with it,” Councilman John Dunleavy said.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio also had no problem with the proposal.

Mr. Dunleavy said he’s tired of the town always being afraid of what environmental groups say about events planned for EPCAL.

A group that sought to fly model airplanes there even backed out because of environmental concerns, he said.

“Nothing’s ever going to happen at Grumman,” Mr. Dunleavy said.

Mr. Walter said he wants to see what effect the autocross events might have on the town’s subdivision application before making a decision.

“I’m going to make some phone calls to see if this is going to jam us up,” he said.

Sid Bail, vice president of the Wading River Civic Association, who was in the audience at the public work session, said the use could set a precedent and encourage other motorsports groups to try to set up shop at EPCAL. The massive site has been on the radar of motorsports enthusiasts for some time, he noted.

“What are you setting the precedent for? Where does this lead?” Mr. Bail asked.

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