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Town to discuss how 30 acres at EPCAL could be developed for recreation

Riverhead Town officials are discussing what could be done with 30 undeveloped acres the town owns at the Enterprise Park at Calverton that are meant for park use.

The acreage is the last piece of a 90-acre parcel that’s been earmarked for recreational use. Sixty of those acres have already been improved with ballfields, parking and a dog park.

The town parks department and Community Development Agency have received inquiries from private entities asking if something like a sports complex could be built on the remaining acreage, deputy town attorney Anne Marie Prudenti said at last Thursday’s Town Board work session.

Ms. Prudenti said partnerships between public and private entities are becoming popular as a way to provide recreational services and facilities to towns.

If a sports complex were to be created at EPCAL, she said, the private developer would be required to give the town certain benefits, such as reduced fees for use by town residents or access for local events. In addition, a long-term lease would need to stipulate that, after a specific time period, the town, CDA or other public entity would be required to take over the facility

“Everybody’s in a financial crunch,” Ms. Prudenti said. “Nobody recovered from the recent recession.”

Having a private owner run a facility there could be an option for a town, while also avoiding maintenance and upkeep costs while a private entity owns in.

While a request for proposals would not be required for the park use development there, Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said she wanted to start the discussion with the Town Board on how they’d want to proceed if pursuing such a partnership became a reality.

Board members said they’d like to see an RFP for any type of development on that acreage, regardless.

Ms. Jens-Smith said she will meet with recreation superintendent Ray Coyne, CDA administrator Dawn Thomas and the town’s recreation advisory committee to continue discussion of what should be done with the remaining property.

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