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Town Board to schedule public hearing on long-planned recreation park in Calverton

The Riverhead Town Board is planning to vote on a resolution Tuesday that will schedule a public hearing on Island Water Park’s long-planned recreation park in Calverton. 

The hearing would be a major step forward for a project that dates back to 2003, when Riverhead Town sold the 42-acre property to Island Water Park for $714,000. 

The proposal will feature a non-motorized water skiing rope-tow; a ‘Ninja warrior’ obstacle course; bumper boats, rock climbing and a surf pool, among other amenities. 

“We’re going to be providing 500-plus jobs,” said Ken Myers, the site project manager. 

He said all Riverhead Town residents will be given a discount to enter and they will work with local hotels and restaurants.

He said the food sold at the site “is not going to be the standard carnival food. It’s going to be real healthy food.” 

The project took a major step forward in December when the Central Pine Barrens Joint Planning and Policy Commission unanimously ruled that the commission has no jurisdiction inside the fence at the Enterprise Park at Calverton. 

The commission is comprised of the supervisors of the towns of Riverhead, Southampton and Brookhaven, and representatives of Suffolk County and New York State.

“I’m very excited about this project,” said Councilman Tim Hubbard, who has toured the property. “I think it’s going to be quite popular once they’re up and running. So I’m looking forward to it.” 

Councilwoman Catherine Kent agreed.

“Certainly this property has a lot of amenities that I think our community will enjoy,” she said. “It’s a good project to move forward and I think the people of Riverhead will enjoy it as long as we can make sure its compliant with everything.”

Town planning aide Greg Bergman said the project will not impact nearby hiking trails.

“There is no anticipated impacts any public lands, or on any town lanes or recreational trails,” he said. “It really is a self-contained site and is barely visible from the roadway.”

The town plans to put a covenant into the approval that would prohibit any use of fossil fuels on the property, according to Mr. Bergman. 

“We look forward to seeing the final product,” Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said.

Island Water Park has gone through many hurdlers to get to this point. 

It was first proposed on Youngs Avenue in the 1990s but after neighbors complained, the town urged Mr. Scott to instead locate the facility at the town-owned EPCAL.

Original plans called constructing two man-made lakes for water skiing with a plastic liner underneath to protect groundwater

The project came to a halt when it hit groundwater sooner than expected and was then required by the DEC to obtain an excavation permit. 

It also got caught up in a lawsuit between Riverhead Town and New York State over whether the state Pine Barrens Commission had jurisdiction over projects within EPCAL. A judge ruled in 2008 that the Pine Barrens Commission did not have jurisdiction over “economic development” at EPCAL.

In 2010, Island Water Park president Eric Scott revamped the proposal to eliminate motor boats altogether and instead seek the overhead cable-towing proposal.