Story & Live Blog: Riverhead Town to gift Calverton land to YMCA

TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | The Riverhead Town Board work session is at 10 a.m.

“Congratulations, this issue is done, as far as I’m concerned, welcome to Calverton.”

Those were Supervisor Sean Walter’s words to representatives of Peconic YMCA Thursday following a work session discussion in which the Town Board and the local Y group agreed informally to allow a YMCA facility to be built on town-owned land at the Calverton Enterprise Park (EPCAL).

The Town Board, which has about a year to go on its efforts to subdivide the town’s EPCAL property, plans to lease a 7-acre lot on Route 25 to the group while it waits for the subdivision to be completed.

After that, the town will give the property to the Y for a facility that would feature an indoor pool, fitness center and multi-purpose rooms.

The site in question is located in between the Stony Brook Business Incubator and the Grumman Memorial Park, and it would have access from a new road being proposed that would align with the existing traffic light at Route 25 and Route 25A.

Peconic YMCA has been searching for a site in the Riverhead area for about 10 years, with many of those sites ultimately being rejected because of community opposition, impracticality or because they were tied in with other projects that met with opposition.

Earlier this year, after giving up on another EPCAL site about two miles west of this because the town was having difficulty getting county health department approval for its park and sewer connection there, Peconic YMCA decided it would buy a 8.9-acre site on Main Road in Aquebogue, across from Vineyard Caterers. But that site ran into community opposition, and Mr. Walter instead offered the the 7-acre EPCAL site.
In the past, Peconic YMCA has said it wanted to be close to the center of Riverhead, and that EPCAL was too far west.

“We’ve had a lot of discussions with the various volunteers and donors,” said Fritz Trinlein, the director of strategic planning for the umbrella group, YMCA of Long Island. “Initially, the feeling was that this was further west than we preferred. Ideally, we liked the center of town, but because of the direction and preference of the town board that this parcel would work and was suitable, we agreed.”

He said that from a demographic perspective, the proposed EPCAL could reach more people than a site in the center of town because the Wading River and Calverton areas are among the fastest growing areas in the town.

“The future is exciting,” Mr. Trinklein said.

Mr. Trinklein said they hope the process can be done fast.

“Those people that are participating want to see a shove in the ground, they want to see a building up,” he said, referring to the people who have donated money to Peconic YMCA.

The Y officials have said they have about $6 million of the $8 million they estimate they will need for the project.

The Y can add other facilities and programs over time, once this one is build, he added.

Peconic YMCA will need to connect to the sewer system, and while the town can donate the land, it cannot donate sewer or water hookups, officials said.

Mr. Walter suggested that the Y use the $500,000 it was going to us to purchase land in Aquebogue to connect to the existing force main and lift station on the sewer connection at the Incubator.

Mr. Trinklein suggested instead that Peconic YMCA make an annual contribution of financial aid to Riverhead families in need. He suggested they make a donation of a certain amount per year.

“Nobody should get the idea that we had $500,000 sitting there,” said Peconic YMCA chairman Joe Van de Wetering. “One of the reasons we liked this site is because it wasn’t costing us $500,000.”

The Town Board is expected to approve resolutions at its regular meeting Tuesday to convey the land to Peconic YMCA and to establish a temporary lease of the property until the town’s subdivision is done and it can convey the land.

Both of those actions are subject to a permissive referendum, in which residents can force a public vote on the issue if they present a certain number of petitions in opposition.

Mr. Walter said that between site plan approval, health department approval and other steps needed by the YMCA, they are about a year away from building.

“We will expedite this,” Mr. Walter assured them.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said it would probably take longer than that if they stuck with the Aquebogue plan.

Click play on the live blog below for more information on the YMCA measure, and for other happenings from work session: