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Ligon wants re-vote on Family Community Life Center

Kim Ligon

Riverhead school board member Kim Ligon wants another chance to formally support the proposed Family Community Life Center.

Ms. Ligon was absent from the July 7 school board meeting when a resolution in support of the development project failed. Board president Sue Koukounas and board members Greg Meyer and Lori Hulse voted in favor. Board vice president Amelia Lantz and board members Ann Cotten-DeGrasse and Chris Dorr abstained from voting.

Shirley Coverdale, president and CEO of the Family Community Life Center, has requested the school board approve a resolution in support of the project as the town reviews the development plan. The proposed Family Community Life Center, which was conceptualized by Ms. Coverdale and her husband, the Rev. Charles Coverdale of First Baptist Church, would include 125 apartments, an Olympic-size indoor swimming pool, a 25-seat theater and media center, 24-hour adult and child day care services and more.

Ms. Ligon, a volunteer at First Baptist Church, said at Tuesday’s school board meeting she had asked that a re-vote be placed on the agenda. Since it wasn’t, Ms. Ligon then made a motion for a re-vote.

“I feel that is an important issue and we shouldn’t leave it at a tie,” she said.

Ms. DeGrasse said she believes changes to the agenda can’t be made once the school board approves it and suggested Ms. Ligon ask to have the re-vote placed on next month’s agenda.

Ms. Ligon then argued the school board has taken action in the past even though a resolution wasn’t listed on the agenda beforehand.

“We’ve done it before and I feel we should do it again,” she said.

Ms. Cotten-DeGrasse described the situation as “political” and questioned why the Coverdales need the district to formally state it supports the development plan when “it’s the town’s responsibility — not the school district’s.”

“It costs $15,000 to $16,000 to educate each student that comes in,” she said. “I don’t want to be responsible for that tax increase.”

Mr. Dorr added he believes the residential component to the project “would bring in hundreds of new families with absolutely no tax increase to educate the children that would be moving into those houses.”

Mr. Meyer said although housing is attached to the plan, he believes the community life center is “something the community is in dire need of.”

During the public comment portion of the meeting, Riverside resident Robert “Bubbie” Brown questioned the board’s failure to formally support the plan.

“I really don’t understand what the huge opposition is,” he said. “Just a little note of support from the school board seems like such a small thing to ask when we’re trying to do something in this town for the community.

“It’s not about a black thing,” he continued. “It’s a community project for which everybody can benefit.”

The school board agreed to re-vote on the resolution at its next meeting on Sept. 8.

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Photo caption: Riverhead school board members Kim Ligon, left, and Ann Cotten-DeGrasse at Tuesday’s meeting.