July hearing set for Calverton YMCA proposal

TIM GANNON PHOTO | The site in question is located between the Grumman F-14 memorial (above) and the Stony Brook Business Incubator on Route 25.

Is there public opposition to Peconic YMCA’s latest proposed location for a facility in Riverhead Town?

July 17 might be the day Y officials find out.

The Riverhead Town Board has scheduled a public hearing for 7:05 p.m. on that date, in Town Hall.

The public is being given a chance to weigh in on the town’s proposal to first lease, and then transfer, a 7.3-acre parcel of town-owned land at the Enterprise Park at Calverton to the nonprofit YMCA of Long Island.

The site in question is located between the Grumman F-14 memorial and the Stony Brook Business Incubator on Route 25.

The public hearing is technically what is known as a “qualified and eligible sponsor” hearing, which is required in order to sell or give away town land in a state-designated Urban Renewal area such as EPCAL.

The purpose of the hearing is to determine if the YMCA has the financial wherewithal to carry out the plan it proposes, in this case, a YMCA facility that will feature an indoor pool, strength training room, multi-purpose classrooms and more.

The town cannot deed or sell land until its subdivision at EPCAL is complete, so officials propose to initially lease the land to the YMCA so the group could get the ball rolling sooner on building a facility.

While the YMCA would be getting the land at no charge, it still would have to pay the costs of water and sewer hookups, and it would have to pay $25,000 per year to offset membership fees for Riverhead residents deemed eligible for financial assistance, according to the proposal.

In addition, the YMCA would have to provide free quarterly vocational classes to Riverhead residents, and bimonthly youth and adult recreation programs to Riverhead residents, according to proposal.

The hearing notice also says the deal will have a reverter clause, in which the land would go back to the town if YMCA doesn’t complete its project.

Peconic YMCA, a group headed by Joe Van de Wetering of Calverton, has been searching for a site for a Riverhead YMCA for more than 10 years, with numerous proposed locations being shot down due to community opposition, or due to the fact the plans were tied in with a commercial development project that fell through. Or due to the YMCA’s own decision that certain sites were impractical.

Group officials have maintained they would prefer a site in the Riverhead zip code, and had said in the past that Calverton was too far west.

But after a plan to build a YMCA on a 10-acre site on Route 25 in Aquebogue ran into community opposition earlier this year, they agreed to the latest EPCAL proposal, in part because it had the support of the Town Board, according to Fritz Trinklein, director of strategic planning for YMCA of Long Island.

Peconic YMCA has raised over $6 million in pledges and needs about $8 million total to get phase of the project, Mr. Van de Wetering said.

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