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Island Water Park gets IDA approval for 10-year tax abatement

The Riverhead Industrial Development Agency on Monday approved Island Water Park’s request for financial assistance with its 42-acre entertainment complex at the Enterprise Park at Calverton. 

The vote was split, with board member Tom Cruso absent, and board member Lori Pipczynski voting no. 

“I wish the project much success but I’m am going to be voting no,” she said. 

Asked about her vote later, Ms. Pipczynski said, “I don’t feel this rises to the level of what an IDA project should be.” 

The other three IDA members voted yes. 

Ken Myers of Island Water Park told IDA members that they aim to have the facility open by summer and that they expect “thousands of people” per week by July 4th. 

“We think it’s going to be very popular,” he said. 

Island Water Park made an informal presentation to the IDA in May and had a public hearing before the IDA in September. 

They initially sought a 20-year payment in lieu of taxes from the IDA but now have reduced that request to 10 years, which is the agency’s standard incentive. 

The IDA’s uniform tax exemption policy calls for a 50% abatement on real estate tax in the first year of the 10 years, followed by a 45% abatement the second year; 40% the third year and declining by 5% per year over the remainder of the 10 years. 

The IDA incentive also provides abatements on sales tax for materials used in the construction of the project and on mortgage recording tax. The project is expected to cost about $25 million, according to Island Water Park. 

Since the September hearing, Island Water Park has reduced its employment projections, according to Daniel Baker, an attorney for the applicant. 

“The original number of 350 proposed jobs has now come down to 283.5 full-time equivalent jobs,” he said. “The applicants believe this is a conservative number and certainly hope there will be significantly more than this ultimately.”

He added that “because of the outdoor nature of the facility, a good amount of these jobs will be seasonal.”

Mr. Baker said that while much of the work at the site is completed $6 million to $8 million worth of work still remains . Island Water Park plans to be open year-round, Mr. Myers said.

Among the attractions proposed are a 20-acre man-made lake, an indoor surf pool, rock climbing walls, indoor and outdoor volleyball courts, a zip line, spectator seating, obstacle courses, bumper boats, water slides, a fitness center, a spa, a pro shop, restaurants and a recreational facility, according to the application. 

Island Water Park has also received preliminary site plan approval from the Riverhead Town Board and is awaiting final approval.