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Town issues stop-work order to Island Water Park

Riverhead Town last week issued a stop-work order to Island Water Park, saying there was extensive site work being done that was not called for in the site plan. 

Island Water Park, which says it will become a major tourist destination when it opens, has been seeking approvals from the town for nearly 20 years.

The park had received site plan approval from the town in 2013 but is now seeking to make amendments to that. The project received preliminary site plan approval from the Town Board in July, but it has yet to receive final site plan approval. 

Island Water Park is located on 42 acres within the Enterprise Park at Calverton, and has been in the planning stages since 2003, when Eric Scott of Island Water Park purchased the property from the Town for $714,000. 

Mr. Scott declined comment on the stop-work order. 

Island Water Park was originally planned for Youngs Avenue in Calverton as a man-made lake for water skiing, but neighbors objected, and the town suggested they relocate to EPCAL.

In addition, Island Water Park earlier this month was granted a 10-year tax abatement by the Riverhead Industrial Development Agency. The abatement starts at 50% of the value of the improvements and decreases by 5% in subsequent years.

The company plans to be open year-round and they say the project is expected to cost about $25 million. 

In a Nov. 19 letter to the Town Board, town building and planning administrator Jefferson Murphree said he toured the site on Nov. 15 along with the town’s senior building inspector, town engineer, chief fire marshal and two representatives from Island Water Park. 

“In March 2020, there was interior building work being done that was not in compliance with any of the approved site plans and no building permits were submitted to the Building Department,” Mr. Murphree wrote. 

“No additional work was to proceed until an amended site plan application was submitted to and approved by the Town along with issuance of all of the required construction permits,” Mr. Murphree wrote. 

The stop-work order was issued to Ken Myers, the project manager for Island Water Park, who was part of the group that toured the facility. The stop-work order also was posted on the entrance to the property, off Route 25 in Calverton. 

“No additional site work, including but not limited to removal of material from the subject property, grading or excavation, nor building construction shall proceed without prior written approval by the Town,” the order states. 

Mr. Murphree wrote: “It was observed that the perimeter of the pool foundation was left open, creating an unsafe condition. The perimeter of the surf pool should be immediately back-filled.” 

The construction of the second floor office space is allowed to proceed as this space is substantially in compliance with the approved site plan, the letter states. 

Mr. Scott has said in the past that Island Water Park will differ from nearby Splish Splash since that park has rides while Island Water Park will offer activities.

Island Water Park’s proposal calls for a 65,000-square foot building and a 20-acre man-make lake as well as restaurants. Indoor activities planned include a wave pool, rock climbing, and a Ninja warrior course, while outdoor activities would include things like an inflatable Aquapark — which they say will be the largest in North America — bumper boats, beach volleyball, kayaks, paddle boards and cable town park. 

The venture will create 285.5 “full-time equivalent” jobs, many of which will be seasonal, Island Water Park representatives said at the IDA meeting.