Peconic YMCA moving to EPCAL?


he plan to build a YMCA near Stotzky Park, a short jog from Riverhead’s downtown, appears to be in doubt.

The Riverhead Town Board unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday “to express support for the establishment of a YMCA at Enterprise Park at Calverton property adjoining the town’s park.”

But Joe Van de Wetering of Peconic YMCA says his group still considers the county property to be its first choice for a YMCA site. The Calverton site is more of a backup plan, he explained.

“It’s something that’s been discussed, but it’s not necessarily what we desire,” said Mr. Van de Wetering. “But we want to make sure there’s always an option.”

Peconic YMCA has been seeking a site in Riverhead for more than 10 years.

Fritz Trinklein of the YMCA of Long Island said the volunteers and contributors to the Peconic YMCA project are eager to get work started quickly, while construction prices are low, but the process of establishing a YMCA on the county land is taking longer than hoped. Currently, he said, the issue of what agency approves what on the project is being reviewed by attorneys for the county.

A proposed land swap between the county and Riverhead Town, which Mr. Trinklein had hoped could get the project moving sooner, was rejected by Town Board members earlier this year.

In the past, Peconic YMCA has opposed the idea of building a facility at the Enterprise Park at Calverton, saying the former Navy land is too far from the center of town.

Mr. Van de Wetering said that is still a drawback of the Calverton location, as is the lack of a public sewer system there.

Riverhead Councilman George Gabrielsen noted the Southampton Youth Association in North Sea is also far from the center of town, but employs an aggressive busing system to get kids to the facility. He believes a similar arrangement could be worked out in Riverhead, since the school district has expressed interest in using the proposed YMCA pool.

Mr. Gabrielsen said the town has designated a portion of a town park in Calverton for a community recreation complex, and the YMCA could fill that role. The town has eight acres of land there that it could make available just east of the existing softball fields and east of some proposed soccer fields, he said.

“We’re encouraged by this positive signal from the town,” Mr. Trinklein said. Peconic YMCA is “willing to pursue all options” and may end up going with whichever plan can be implemented fastest, he said.

“We’ll get there,” Mr. Van de Wetering said. “We are extremely patient.”

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This post was originally published Oct. 19, 2010