Three companies pitched plans to the Riverhead Town Board Thursday, discussing their ambitions for working at the Enterprise Park at Calverton.
The companies were invited by Calverton Aviation & Technology, which is currently in contract to purchase 1,643 acres of town-owned land at EPCAL for $40 million. The visit by CAT, represented by attorney Chris Kent, at the Town Board work session, was a follow-up from September when officials said they could not yet disclose the specific companies they were negotiating with.
The companies that appeared Thursday were Launcher, Unique Electric Solutions and ULC Robotics.
Launcher is already located at EPCAL after recently signing a lease agreement with the town to to use part of the taxiway at the eastern runway.
Max Haot, the founder and CEO of Launcher, said it was the runways at EPCAL that drew him there two years ago. CAT’s proposed purchase, should it be completed, would include the purchase of both runways.
Mr. Haot said he sublet property owned by Luminati Aerospace as a testing site. He said the company’s goal is to have a test flight at EPCAL by 2024, by which time, he expects to have about 220 employees and to be able to launch 12 small rockets per year.
“As satellites have shrunk from the size of a bus to the size of a loaf of bread, the race has begun to build smaller and lower-cost rockets to launch them to orbit,” Launcher says on its website. “Launcher is developing the world’s most efficient rocket to deliver small satellites to orbit.”
Launcher to date has raised $3.7 million and has a goal of $10 million.
“Our interest is to see the EPCAL property become compatible with testing and manufacturing of rocket engines,” he said.
“We be excited to be a tenant of manufacturing space and testing facility here should this transaction come to be,” he said.
The actual launching of rockets into space must be done at FAA-approved facilities on the ocean such as Kennedy Space Center in Florida, he said.
Unique Electric Solutions
UES is focused on electrification of vehicular propulsion in commercial transportation, Mr. Kent said. They currently have a contract with United Parcel Service to convert 31 diesel trucks to electric. UPS has a goal of converting 66% of its trucks to electric in New York City by 2022.
The conversion is part of a state pilot program funded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, according to UES president and CEO Joe Ambrosio.
“Because we need a lot of space and have a lot of vehicles, CAT would be perfect for us,” Mr. Ambrosio said.
The company has 10 employees now, but envisions having about 100 in the future, he said.
They need a facility that’s about 50,000 square feet, he said.
The third company that appeared Thursday is ULC Robotics, which is currently located in Hauppauge.
ULC provides robotic field inspection services to the utility and energy industries throughout the northeast and United Kingdom, according to Mr. Kent.
The company, headed by president and CEO Gregory Penza, currently has 127 employees, 26 patents and 30 active patent applications, Mr. Kent said.
ULC is developing a “vertical take-off and landing fixed wing, unmanned aircraft that has a 10-foot wingspan, can fly at 55 mph and and can stay in flight for 5-to-7 hours with a 10-pound payload.” They hope to build these aircraft at EPCAL and anticipate the start of flight testing in September 2020 and envision the aircraft being used on off-shore wind farms in the Atlantic Ocean.
Specifically, using them to conduct environmental surveys and protected species observations, as well as inspecting the offshore wind facilities.
They also envision using them to deliver equipment and critical parts to the wind turbines, and to monitor construction and to aid in emergency response, Mr. Penza said.
The aircraft would be launched from the shore, not from EPCAL.
“We’re hoping that CAT can become part of our future,” Mr. Penza said.
They are hoping to get a runway-use approval at EPCAL and a building of between 25,000 and 50,000 square feet.
“We don’t need runway, we need the space around it to take off and land vertically,” Mr. Penza said.
They would build the aircraft at EPCAL and train pilots there as well, he said.
“These companies are ready to go,” Mr. Kent said.
Mr. Kent said CAT can’t do anything until the town approves an eight-lot subdivision of the property.
“We cannot bring any plans to the DEC,” he said. “CAT plans to develop in a very limited area on the property that fully respects the grassland habitat, and the continuous woodlands.”
Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said that one of the biggest concerns of the public is the 1,000 acres that was not originally part of the sale.
Mr. Kent said that property will be protected from development by a covenant CAT will agree to enact, but it won’t happen until after the subdivision is approved.
Top photo caption: The Riverhead Town Board met with representatives from CAT and the companies that may work alongside them at EPCAL. (Credit: Tim Gannon)