Visitors looking forward to the Pour the Core festival, the Long Island Potato Festival or the upcoming Zombie Run later this month at the former Calverton Links golf course on Edwards Avenue may be in for disappointment this year.
The Town Board appears poised to deny special event applications for the three events at its meeting next Tuesday, as Town Board members said the owners of the site haven’t gotten the proper approvals to match their new uses of the site.
“Zombies? Cider fests? Everything else? That’s way beyond what that place is designed for,” said Supervisor Sean Walter on Thursday during a work session meeting.
Calverton Links was vacant for two years after abruptly closing in October 2013, but was purchased in May 2015 by developer Parviz Farahzad. In January, Long Island Sports Park co-owners Dean Del Prete and his cousin Paul Sattler — who also run Cousin’s Paintball nearby — signed a lease to operate on the roughly 80-acre course.
Mr. Del Prete and Mr. Sattler own four other Cousins Paintball locations. In an April northforker interview, Mr. Del Prete that they began hosting events like obstacle courses and runs because the paintball and golf course business was waning.
“Golf has fallen out of favor in the last few years so I said, ‘Let’s find an alternative,’ ” he said. Mr. Del Prete couldn’t be immediately reached for comment Thursday afternoon.
The site hosted the fourth-annual Pour the Core festival last year and in a January interview, Mr. Del Prete said hosting events under the new brand Long Island Sports Park was the cousins’ favorite and most important part of their project at the property.
But that didn’t sit well with Town Board members, who said the managers were expanding beyond what special events the town would normally allow. According to a pending resolution, the town board states that a special permit on the site allows for development “limited to a golf course and associated uses only.”
After the event applications were made in March of this year, the town sent a letter saying the property would need a new site plan.
“We told them to go into site plan [approval process],” Mr. Walter said. “They haven’t come in with the site plan so they aren’t getting anything.”
“You can’t have 15 events a year,” agreed Councilman James Wooten.
The Zombie Run was scheduled for Aug. 20, while the fifth-annual Pour the Core and the third-annual Long Island Potato Festival were set to be held on Oct. 1 and 2, respectively.
However, not all board members were on the same page. Councilman John Dunleavy said he didn’t see the difference between the events at Calverton Links and other events allowed at wineries and farms in town.
“This is way off the road,” he said, citing traffic concerns. “You’re not going to hinder anything on Edwards Avenue.”
But Town Board members Jodi Giglio and Tim Hubbard said those other events were related to their normal operations, meaning that a wedding featuring wines supports a vineyard’s agricultural uses.
“[Long Island Sports Park] has to become a entertainment sports venue, not just come in here with” special event permit after special event permit, Mr. Walter said in an interview.
News of the impending denials came as a surprise to Kristyn Dolan, a marketing manager for production group Starfish Junction, which was set to run the Pour the Core and Long Island Potato Festival events, the latter of which drew in a total of between 1,500 and 2,000 people throughout the event.
Ms. Dolan said her company would need to speak to the property managers about the alleged lack of site plans, saying it was their responsibility to respond to the town since Starfish Junction was leasing the site from them.
“If it doesn’t all work out, it would be a shame to not be able to bring the events to Riverhead and help business after people leave us,” Ms. Dolan said.
Photo caption: This 2014 file photo shows the locked front gate of Calverton Links in Calverton. The property was later purchased and leased to new managers, who have since drawn the ire of some on the Town Board for holding too many events.