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Riverhead Town Board rejects holiday light show, rodeo at Long Island Sports Park

Editor’s Note: The Holiday Light Show was later approved by the Town Board in August. Read more here.

Original Story: Three upcoming events that were seeking special event approval from the Riverhead Town Board — including a popular drive-through Holiday Light Show — were rejected by the board last Tuesday on the grounds that there are outstanding violations on the property they planned to lease.

But the owner of Long Island Sports Park in Calverton, where the events are set to take place, says the venue is in compliance and the events should be permitted to go forward.

The events in question include Bold Media’s Holiday Light Show, scheduled for Nov. 21 to Dec. 31, and two Mexican Live Bull Riding Rodeo and Concert events by Zamora Entertainment. The first was to take place this Sunday, July 14, but has been canceled; the second is set for Sunday, Aug. 11.

Long Island Sports Park is still hopes to hold the August event.

Matthew Glaser, CEO of Bold Media, said the light show attracted a lot of people during the off-season, and would hopefully help local businesses and restaurants. He estimated that between 30,000 and 40,000 people saw last year’s light show and said tickets were sold to people from every ZIP code on Long Island.

“It did bring a lot of business to the town during a time it definitely needed it,” Mr. Glaser told the Town Board last Tuesday.

But town officials said violations have been issued for the property and Long Island Sports Park has not dealt with them.

Building and planning administrator Jeff Murphree said structures were still standing in wetlands areas on the property that were supposed to have been removed. In addition, he said, a required fence along the perimeter of the wetlands had not been installed as of July 2, he said.

Councilwoman Catherine Kent asked if the board wanted to table the vote for another time, but Councilman Tim Hubbard suggested the board proceed.

“This has been going on for a year and a half or more,” Mr. Hubbard said. “There’s no sense in tabling it to give them another chance.”

Mr. Hubbard said he’d heard that the Holiday Light Show was spectacular, but that the property needs to be brought into compliance before the board can allow future events to take place there.

“You’ve got to talk to the man that runs the property because he’s not been in compliance and he’s been given every opportunity to come into compliance,” Mr. Hubbard.

Mr. Glaser said he was aware of this, but that it has nothing to do with his event.

The property is owned by Parvis Farahzad and leased to Long Island Sports Park, which subleases it for events and sometimes holds its own events.

The Town Board voted 5-0 to reject the three applications.

Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith told Mr. Glaser that he had applied early enough to be able to re-apply if the property is brought into compliance.

Dean Del Prete of Long Island Sports Park said he is not in violation of the wetlands law.

“They are saying I have wetland violations and that I’m not in compliance, but I am in compliance, so where do I go from here?” Mr. Del Prete asked. “You would think someone would write me a ticket, so it could go to a judge, before you deny permits based on it, but that’s not how they roll.”

The posts for the disc golf (often called Frisbee golf) are not permanent structures, he said.

“They are not in the wetlands; they are in the buffer to the wetlands. That’s a permitted use,” Mr. Del Prete said. “Just give me a ticket and then we’ll go to court. In the meantime, I’m getting permits denied on it.”

The property where Long Island Sports Park is located is slated to be turned into a solar farm.

The requirement that they have a fence within 150 feet of a wetland also is not law, Mr. Del Prete said. The state Department of Environmental Conservation allows activities like hiking, boating and trail riding within 150 feet of a wetlands, he said.

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