Editorial: Still more questions about CAT’s vision for EPCAL

The question of exactly what Calverton Aviation & Technology intends to build at the Enterprise Park at Calverton took a troubling turn this week, when riverheadlocal.com published a summary of a 19-page document submitted by the company to state environmental officials.

The Calverton Habitat Review, submitted to the Department of Environmental Conservation, shows a massive construction project: 10 new buildings along the two runways, with a total of 10 million square feet. 

“For perspective,” RiverheadLocal.com wrote, “all of the buildings on the original Grumman manufacturing site, taken together, totaled 1 million square feet. The size of Triple Five’s American Dream Mall in East Rutherford, N.J., is 3 million square feet.

“The largest aircraft manufacturing plant in the country — Boeing’s Everett, Washington, factory, where the company assembles its 747, 787, 767, 777 and 787 aircraft — is just shy of 4 million square feet.”

What, exactly, is going on here?

When Riverhead Town Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith looked at the documents CAT submitted to the DEC, she had a very logical reaction: “… it looks like an airport.” She said she’s asked Calverton Aviation & Technology to appear before the Town Board to explain its intentions.

More than 1,600 acres at EPCAL are subject of a $40 million sale by the town to CAT, which is a joint venture between the Triple Five Group, which owns 75% of the company, and Luminati Aerospace.

Both CAT and the DEC characterize the drawings as a draft and not part of a formal application process. A draft of what? Why did CAT submit this at all and what does it represent? In an email, Amy Herbold, CAT’s director of development, characterized the documents as a “work in progress.”

For the three Town Board Republicans, who all voted to approve CAT’s qualified and eligible status last November, the disclosure doesn’t change anything. They still support the project. 

But it should give all members of the Town Board considerable pause, and the board now needs to essentially go back to square one with CAT and find out what its long-term vision for this remarkable property is. CAT has to explain why it submitted this development plan to the DEC and what, exactly, it represents.

For Richard Amper, executive director of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society, the documents speak to how the town has handled this issue from day one: “This is typical of the way this property has been handled for 20 years. Nobody knows what’s proposed.”

He added: “I’ve dealt with land use for the past 25 years and there is nothing that compares to the consistent incompetence of the redevelopment of the Calverton property.”