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Former councilwoman questions Town Board on opening of Island Water park

Former Councilwoman Barbara Blass raised questions Wednesday about a line in Riverhead Supervisor Yvette Aguiar’s Feb. 8 “State of the Town” speech that Island Water Park in Calverton was expected to be open this summer.

Ms. Blass said that in July, there was a discussion item at a Town Board work session where the “planning department presented us a very thorough and well organized analysis of the recent, complicated application” for a site plan amendment of Island Water Park.

The applicant had sought to replace cable-towed water skiing facility in a man-made lake — which was part of an approved site plan from 2013, with a surf pool — among other changes. 

“We learned of conflicting information submitted by the applicant and his design professional, conflicts of intended uses, changes in the uses, conflicts with prior approvals, and significant work done without any approvals,” Ms. Blass said during Wednesday’s Town Board meeting. 

She said five days later, the Town Board approved a resolution to classify the amended site plan as a “type one action” under state environmental law, and to have the Town Board request lead agency status for the review. 

A type one designation usually requires a more stringent review than a type two designation.

In December, Ms. Blass said, the supervisor, acting as Riverhead’s representative on the Pine Barrens Commission (which is comprised of representatives of Riverhead, Southampton and Brookhaven towns, along with a state and county representative) “advocated for and received approval of a Pine Barrens resolution asserting that the Pine Barrens Commission lacked jurisdiction on the Island Water Park application.”

“What happened during those four months?” Ms. Blass asked, indicating that the town vote on this issue changed. 

She said Island Water Park in December 2018 had submitted a renewal request for its state mining permit. She asked board members if they knew if that permit was approved and how much sand would be excavated. No one answered that question. 

Island Water Park had built the approximately 11-acre man-made lake by excavating the land. Eric Scott, the president of Island Water Park, has said in the past that he donated all of the sand he excavated to the town for use in developing its ballfields at EPCAL. 

Town Attorney Bob Kozakiewicz responded that the town wanted to preserve its rights and keep the Pine Barrens Commission from acting inside the fence at the Enterprise Park at Calverton.

When Riverhead Town’s vote was needed in the mid-1990s in order for the Pine Barrens plan to be approved, Riverhead officials at the time insisted that development inside the fence at the Enterprise Park at Calverton was exempt from Pine Barrens Commission review. Mr. Kozakiewicz was the town attorney at that time as well. 

Ms. Aguiar said the Pine Barrens Commission was unanimous in supporting the Island Water Park application in December. 

Councilwoman Catherine Kent asked that this issue be discussed at a Town Board work session. 

Mr. Kozakiewicz said he would meet with town Planning Board officials to discuss the points Ms. Blass brought up.