Island Water Park received preliminary site plan approval from the Riverhead Town Board last Wednesday for its proposed water park and entertainment center in Calverton.
The proposal, located on 42 acres south of Route 25, has been in the planning stages since 2003 in various shapes and sizes. It still needs final site plan approval before work can begin.
“This is going to be a destination park for Riverhead,” said Supervisor Yvette Aguiar in casting her vote. “This is going to engage our youth and, more exciting than anything else,” she added, “it’s going to involve individuals of all age groups and it’s going to give discounts for Riverhead Town residents. It’s going to be an economic driver.”
Owner Eric Scott, whose 30-year-old son Cody is now involved in the project, said he’s hoping for a soft opening in November or December.
He said the project will create about 500 jobs and that Island Water Park will not be in competition with Splish Splash Water Park, located about two miles east on Route 25.
“Splish Splash has rides,” Mr. Scott said. “We don’t have even one ride here. Everything is an activity.”
Island Water Park bought the property from Riverhead Town for $714,000 in 2003 after initially proposing a man-made lake for water skiing on Youngs Avenue in Calverton, a location that was dropped in the face of opposition from residents.
The $25 million project is anticipated to be open by early to mid-fall, according to Ken Myers, an executive with Island Water Park, who made a presentation before the Town Board in June.
Island Water Park’s proposal calls for a 65,000-square-foot building and a 120-acre man-made lake on which no fossil fuels will be used, according to Mr. Myers.
It also will have a full-service restaurant and cafe, and more than 30,000 square feet of “state of the art attractions,” Mr. Myers said.
Among the indoor activities planned are a four-foot surf pool, rock climbing, Formula One race car simulators, a Ninja warrior course, bumper cars, virtual reality stations and a CrossFit gym.
The outdoor attractions proposed are a floating inflatable Aquapark, bumper boats, beach volleyball courts, kayaks and paddle boards and a cable tow park.
Mr. Myers said they “many high-end positions” will be included in the 500 new jobs created.
They will be involved in community services and will offer all Riverhead Town residents a discount, according to Mr. Myers.
The proposal has obtained full approval from the state Department of Environmental Conservation for reclamation, approval from the Pine Barrens Commission and approval for the restaurant from the state health department.
Island Water Park also said in May that it would seek Riverhead Industrial Development Agency tax breaks through a 20-year payment in lieu of taxes arrangement.