The three Democratic candidates running for Riverhead Town Board outlined their platform to take over town hall from the all-Republican Town Board on Tuesday, stating that the incumbents haven’t been able to get things done even when they all are in agreement on an issue.
“We will change the tone of Town Hall,” said Democratic supervisor candidate Anthony Coates. “We believe in the nobility of public service; we will not bicker and argue with the people we serve with, regardless of their political party.”
The Democrats made those comments in a press conference to unveil their campaign platform Tuesday morning in Wading River.
He and Democratic council candidates Neil Krupnick and Laura Jens-Smith highlighted 11 points in their platform.
Republican incumbent Supervisor Sean Walter said the platform looks similar.
“With the exception of a few things like term limits (I like 12 years), it is nice to see the Democrats readopting my platform,” he said.
Mr. Walter is challenging Councilwoman Jodi Giglio for the Republican supervisor nod in a primary Thursday.
She did not immediately comment on the Democrats’ platform, a copy of which was emailed to her and Mr. Walter by the News-Review.
The candidates touched on several issues, from code enforcement to town finances to term limits to creating a Riverhead Power Authority.
Here’s what they had to say:
• Movie Theater
They specifically highlighted the issue of a movie theater on Route 58.
“We will change zoning on Route 58 to allow for the construction of a movie theater,” said Mr. Coates. “A majority of the current Town Board favors this plan, but they have done nothing to advance a change of zoning. We will make it happen.”
• Quality of Life
The Democratic candidates proposed “vigorous” town code enforcement, saying a lack of enforcement has led to blight and crime.
“We will address the small issues like violations of our sign ordinances, graffiti and litter that detract from the beauty of our town,” Mr. Coates said. “We will revisit and update the town’s master plan, which hasn’t been touched in more than a decade.”
The Democrats said they will re-examine the town’s downtown zoning that allows for five-story buildings and “700 apartments.”
“We should assess the impact multiple new apartment buildings will have on traffic, sewers, crime, parking, the character of downtown and the master plan,” Mr. Coates said.
The Democrats also supported installing security cameras downtown, something the current board has discussed for six years but not done.
“We will not offer budgets based on fictitious revenue from EPCAL or any other source,” Mr. Coates said. “For too long Town Hall has swept our economic problems under the rug. We will stop that practice.”
In addition, the Democrats said they would audit the performance of the Riverhead Industrial Development Agency to ensure that tax abatements granted by the IDA “pay for themselves” through creating quality jobs that benefit the town.
The Democratic candidates say they oppose allowing housing at EPCAL, something the town’s proposed zoning at EPCAL includes as a “supportive use” for commercial and industrial main uses.
The Democrats say they feel housing is a “net negative” at EPCAL.
“We believe our prudent management of the overall town budget would reduce the current pressure to score a ‘touchdown’ at EPCAL and prevent the town from entertaining poorly conceived projects,” Mr. Coates said.
• Riverhead Power Authority
“We believe we can end Riverhead’s dependence on the LIPA grid and bring inexpensive power and clean jobs to our residents, as municipalities like Freeport and Greenport, New York already do,” Mr. Coates said.
The Democrats propose issuing a request for proposals to establish an energy park at EPCAL that offer town residents “cost-efficient electricity.”
The town is currently seeking to lease space at EPCAL for private energy companies to build facilities on.
• Downtown public market
Akin to Boston’s Quincy Market, the trio suggests, “a public/private partnership that will build a home for specialty food and small retail kiosks.”
While the Business Improvement District currently offers a once-a-week farmers market, the candidates see a full-time location as, “a touchstone property and destination gathering place that would bring visitors to Main Street.”
• Eight-year term limits
This would limit council members to two four-year terms and supervisors to four two-year terms.
• Motorsports at EPCAL
The Democrats say they will explore the possibility of allowing motor sports at EPCAL, something Supervisor Sean Walter has opposed.
“We believe Riverhead’s rich tradition of auto racing could provide a good fit at the former Grumman property. We will encourage such use at EPCAL,” Mr. Coates said.
“Our growth Downtown will soon be compromised by a lack of parking,” the platform states. “We will issue (request for proposals) seeking ideas to solve our downtown parking problems.”
• Selling town assets
The Democrats believe they can reduce debt by selling some town property.
“How wise is it to repair the town’s auto fleet on valuable Route 58 property?” Mr. Coates asked. “Does East Creek Marina belong in private hands? We believe there is more than $10-30 million dollars in Town assets that could be sold and those savings be put towards liquidating debt and developing “smart projects.”