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Riverhead Planning Board chairman Stan Carey to step down next month

Stan Carey is retiring from the Riverhead Planning Board at the end of November, but he says he plans to stay involved in planning and water issues.

“I’m still going to be active in the field,” he said in an interview. “I’m going to be on committees and boards and stuff and whatever I can do to help I will certainly do that. I may actually become more involved in some of that stuff.”

Stan Carey

Mr. Carey, 54, of Calverton, has been a member of the town Planning Board for seven years, five as its chair. He’s also a volunteer in the Riverhead Fire Department and works at the superintendent of the Massapequa Water District, where he also plans to retire.

“I’m going to start collecting a pension in January, so I prefer to separate from all the municipal pension contributions at this point,” he said. 

He’s been working in municipal water for 36 years. 

Mr. Carey started his career with the Riverhead Water District and worked there for about 12 years, before moving to the Suffolk County Water District for a dozen more. He has worked for Massapequa for 12 years as well. 

Mr. Carey’s area of expertise has come in handy of late, with issues of water contamination in private wells in Manorville and Calverton and concerns about water capacity for large proposed developments. 

Mr. Carey said he will continue to participate in the upcoming Restoration Advisory Board meetings that explore the status of the cleanup of the former Navy/Grumman land at the Enterprise Park at Calverton. 

The next meeting is virtual on Nov. 9. 

“I’ve been participating in the Navy RAB meetings because I went to help, because I think there’s some things the town can do that they might not be doing right now,” he said. “Kind of a ‘Plan B,” if the federal money doesn’t come through.” 

“What really changed the game with the RAB stuff was the unregulated contaminants becoming regulated,” he said. “There’s an uproar in those communities because they were drinking that stuff, or it was in their private wells, but now it’s officially regulated and it just raises the awareness that they desperately need public water.”

Federal officials have been trying to obtain funding to pay for clean water, but Mr. Carey thinks the town should have a backup plan in case the federal money doesn’t come through.

“The town should be looking at product liability lawsuits like all the water districts are,” he said. “They should be able to do something on behalf of those residents to go after the manufacturers of those chemicals. This could partially fund the cost of bringing public water to these residents.” 

There have been lawsuits seeking to protect public wells, but private wells owned by individual homeowners, “they’re stuck,” Mr Carey said. 

He feels the town should have used money from the “community benefit funds” it received from two solar projects in Calverton for public water.

Mr. Carey said he was two more meetings on the Planning Board, and he’s told the town he will stay on for one more if they haven’t picked a replacement for him. 

“I’ll probably be in a consulting role, working in the water industry somewhere for a while,” he said.