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More than a decade later, Riverhead Town will take ownership of EPCAL roads

As Riverhead Town prepares to expand its highway system, Highway Superintendent George “Gio” Woodson said his department doesn’t have adequate staffing to take on additional roads.

The roads to be added are located in an industrial subdivision at the Enterprise Park at Calverton. The subdivision, known as Calverton Camelot II, was approved nearly 13 years ago and included the existing 500-acre industrial core of EPCAL.

The Town Board was set to vote July 21 on a resolution to formally accept those roads into the town’s highway system, meaning that services like snow plowing and paving would be done by the town, and would meet town specifications. 

But Councilwoman Jodi Giglio asked to postpone that vote until the board got feedback from Mr. Woodson. She said that when the subdivision was approved, it was always the plan to have the town take over those roads.

Mr. Woodson told the board at last Thursday’s work session that two employees retired from his department last year and another retired this year. He expects a fourth employee to retire in January, and yet another to move to a different department.

Those retirees have not been replaced, he said. 

“I’m already short-staffed,” Mr. Woodson said. “How can I be expected to add more roads to my list? I don’t have the personnel to do the job.”

“We’ve been telling you for years if you need more employees you have to come to us and tell us,” Ms. Giglio said. “I think you definitely need more employees. You’ve been at the same staffing level for how many years?”

Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said the town is following the guidelines set by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, in that promotions are not being given and new hirings are limited to essential positions.

After board members eventually agreed to hire two more drivers for the highway department, Mr. Woodson agreed to provide service to the additional roadways.

“The subdivision was approved a long time ago,” town attorney Bob Kozakiewicz said. “We chose to bring the developer into default,” meaning the roads were not up to town specifications. “We had a settlement, the roads started to get developed. We now have a determination by our consulting engineer that the roads are in substantial compliance with the approved map and plan. We have to take them. If you don’t take them, we are getting sued.”