County approves $200K in funding to finish EPCAL bike path

12/16/2014 12:00 PM |
The unfinished bike path at EPCAL. (Credit: Joseph Pinciaro)

The unfinished bike path at EPCAL. (Credit: Joseph Pinciaro)

After town board members appeared to oppose completing a bike and recreational path at the Enterprise Park at Calverton over the summer, the Suffolk County Legislature unanimously approved allocating $200,000 to complete the path on Monday.

Riverhead Town and New York State have already contributed $100,000 each toward the path, though three miles of the 8.9-mile path remain unpaved.

The bike path will get walkers and bikers off the dangerous public road, as it is located inside the fence around EPCAL, officials say.

Initially, it appeared part of the southern portion of the trail would be on the public street on River Road, but that will now be inside the fence as well, according to North Fork county legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue), who sponsored the funding bill.

“It will be an off-road, non-motorized trail of over eight miles long for use by all county residents,” Mr. Krupski told legislators Tuesday, adding that the county won’t have to pay anything else, since the maintenance will be handled by Riverhead Town.

Riverhead Councilwoman Jodi Giglio, who spoke before the legislature Monday, said the town is planning on holding events on the trail, such as fundraisers for the Wounded Warriors, and a Halloween Walk.

“We just think it’s a great project,” she told legislators.

Ms. Giglio was peppered with a slew of questions from western Suffolk legislators, who asked about things like whether the trail would impede economic development at EPCAL or use of the runway there.

She said the trail is not on part of the property where the town plans to see land for economic development.

“I’m comfortable with it,” said Legislator Robert Calarco (D-Patchogue). “I think bike paths are important.”

“I think it’s a reasonable investment,” said Legislator Tom Barraga (R-West Islip), who said it cost $1.7 million for a pedestrian-friendly trail in his district that only covered 8/10ths of a mile.

Riverhead Town’s alternative transportation advisory committee, to which Ms. Giglio is the liaison, has been championing the bike for the several years.

Supervisor Sean Walter said work on the extension of the bike path can’t commence until the environmental studies of the EPCAL site are completed and the town Planning Board approves the EPCAL subdivision which will show exactly where the bike path will go.

“We’re in the end stages of the study at this point,” Mr. Walter said. He thinks the subdivision could be approved some time in early 2015.

He added that he’s not sure if the $200,000 will be enough to complete the bike path.