EPCAL plan blasted for housing, retail components

Ray Maynard of Skydive Long Island at last night's Town Board meeting. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)
Ray Maynard of Skydive Long Island at last night’s Town Board meeting. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

The thought of placing housing and retail uses at the Enterprise Park at Calverton weren’t very popular at a public hearing Wednesday night on Riverhead Town’s reuse plan for the former Grumman site.

In fact, the entire plan, and the environmental impact study of that plan, weren’t popular at all with the 19 speakers at the hearing, as almost all of them found something to criticize in the plan.

The proposed EPCAL “reuse and revitalization plan” drawn up by VHB Engineering and Planning at a cost of over $600,000 is an update of the reuse plan adopted in 1998, when the town first took ownership of EPCAL from the Navy, and calls for a 50-lot subdivision with “mixed-use” development, consisting of light industrial, business, residential and retail uses on nearly 600 acres of the 2,400-acre property.

Click here to read last night’s live coverage from the public hearing

More than 1,300 acres of the town-owned property would remain undeveloped, including the western air strip, which is proposed to be turned into grassland.

The housing and retail components are meant to be in support of the industrial uses, meaning that the people working at the businesses in EPCAL would ideally live there too, and shop at stores that would be on the EPCAL campus. This would reduce the strains on local roads, which the study says will not be able to handle the future traffic generated at EPCAL.

But businesspeople, environmentalists, civic group leaders, and town residents who attended the two-hour-long meeting on Wednesday night weren’t buying it.

“In all of my professional life, I have been chased from residential communities because of my business, and we have willingly moved because of the pressures that have been put on us by residential land growing up around us,” said Edgar Goodale of Riverhead Building Supply, which has several buildings at EPCAL, who said they oppose the proposed mixed use development.

“I’m looking down the road and finding myself right back where I started,” he said. “This is an industrial park and it should remain an industrial park.”

Mr. Goodale also said the town’s ability to lure industrial companies to EPCAL — in current and past administrations — has been “flawed.”