Featured Story

East End Disability group makes plans to expand

East End Disability Associates, a nonprofit organization which services people with intellectual and developmental disabilities on the East End, is looking to expand in Riverhead. 

Chief executive officer Lisa Meyer Fertal, chief program officer Joy O’Shaughnessy and manager of development and public relations Camden Ackerman brought a proposal before town officials at last Tuesday’s work session.

The plan would consolidate and expand EEDA’s facilities onto a roughly 10-acre parcel located near Stotzky Park. The new 40,000-square-foot building would host two-day habilitation sites, an industrial kitchen and cafeteria, two storage areas, a computer lab, elevator, offices and shared workspaces, conference rooms, training rooms and indoor and outdoor recreation facilities.

The cafeteria and recreation facilities would be accessible to the public, Mr. Ackerman said.

“One of our main goals is inclusion,” he said. “Ideally, we’d like to have facilities that are shared with everybody.”

Programs at the facility currently run throughout the week in the morning and evening, Ms. Meyer Fertal said, with heaviest traffic to and from the building around 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Hours would be similar at the new facility.

Mr. Ackerman said EEDA met with the Suffolk County officials who reviewed the preliminary plans and said it would be an appropriate use of the space.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said the property has been dormant because of the expense of developing the property and parking lot.

“I think it might be a good synergy if the county is telling you you can put a structure on the property, because that was always a hurdle,” she said.

Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith echoed her statement: “There’s a lot of these things that are fantastic that we can’t necessarily afford as a town to do at this point, but in partnership, it’s something we can offer everybody.”

She added that the Peconic YMCA was originally projected to be moved onto that location, but it never came to fruition.

Parks and Recreation Superintendent Raymond Coyne said the town had also discussed putting soccer fields on the parcel.

Ms. Giglio expressed concern with the access parking lot in Stotzky Park and the roadway leading to the proposed building.

But Ms. Meyer Fertal said parking is a “huge issue” and EEDA hope to have a large parking lot for all their vehicles and vans close to the building.

The town plans to sign a letter of support on the project.

EEDA was organized in 1992 and currently provides services to over 700 individuals. The group purchased their current facility on Roanoke Avenue in 1996 and also owns an administrative building on Main Street.

Caption: A rendering of what the facility would look like under the proposal. (Courtesy of East End Disability Associates)

[email protected]