Letters To The Editor
Publication The News-Review
Date February 24, 2005
New study needed
To the Editor:
I listened to Riverhead Supervisor Phil Cardinale speak on WRIV (Feb. 11 and 18), paying particular attention to the EPCAL rezoning (590 acres from recreational to industrial) currently being considered.
EPCAL consists of 2,923 acres. When the reuse plan was prepared in 1996, it proposed keeping the 365 acre "industrial core."
This was the parcel that previously supported 3,000 jobs at Grumman. Various recommendations were made for the remaining 2,558 acres, including recreation and open space.
In 1999 the property was zoned 700 acres industrial and 2,223 acres recreational. The original 365-acre industrial core gave way to the 492-acre Burman property. Another 50 acres became the small business incubator. Today these developments employ approximately 400 people. The remaining 158 industrial acres are unused to this date.
The main goal of the reuse plan was job creation, and it seems that Riverhead has a ways to go. There are a number of reasons for this, but poor planning is not one of them. That base was covered by the reuse plan, which was a collaborative effort by community members, public officials and businesses. Rather, failure was in the implementation.
But what I find unsettling is that the solution to get EPCAL back on track is to rezone yet more land as industrial.
Mr. Cardinale said in his Feb. 18 WRIV interview, "the people of Riverhead have gotten used to" the plans for this change. Why should the people of Riverhead have to "get used to" sacrificing land that was gifted to them? What exactly will Riverhead get in return? "High-paying jobs?" The Burman sale didn't guarantee that.
Just prior to this statement, Mr. Cardinale mentioned the successful sale of the Suffolk Theatre, which was cause for much celebration and rightly so. Everyone applauds this latest development to revitalize Riverhead. Why, then, should the community have to swallow a bitter pill when it comes to EPCAL?
The reuse plan of 1996 is now unrecognizable. What is needed for EPCAL is a new plan, before plowing ahead with rezoning, before selling it, while the town is still in control of its intended use.
Editor's note: The writer is an advocate of using a portion of the EPCAL site as a zoo and animal sanctuary, and has asked the Town Board to consider setting aside part of the site for this purpose.