No-show for zoo meeting
Publication The News-Review
Date November 18, 2004
Section(s) Top Stories

Advocate says she won't give up EPCAL plan
BY Tim Gannon

CALVERTON--More than 400 people have signed a petition saying they think a zoo and animal sanctuary at Calverton Enterprise Park is a good idea, but nobody showed up for a recent meeting on that proposal at Riley Avenue Elementary School.

Susan Hansen, a computer programmer and analyst from Rocky Point, recently started a drive to build support for the idea of locating a first-class zoo and animal sanctuary at the town-owned former Grumman site. But she's not proposing to purchase the land herself. Instead, she's hoping the town will be persuaded to undertake the project. And that's where the conversation usually ends as far as town officials go.

"Fascinating," said Supervisor Phil Cardinale in response to Ms. Hansen's zoo proposal. "It costs $1 million per acre and we're supposed to pay for it?" He added, half joking, "One could say the town already operates a zoo."

"Hey, the land is for sale," Councilman Ed Densieski said. "Make an offer."

The town has solicited proposals for hotel/golf resorts at Calverton Enterprise Park (EPCAL) and also has considered increasing the amount of industrially zoned land there.

Ms. Hansen, who's worked in the aerospace industry, said she has doubts about whether industrial development will produce high-paying jobs, as its proponents say. "High-paying jobs exist," she said, "but in many cases they represent overhead, cut into profits, and employers try to keep them at a minimum." And she doesn't think the area needs any more golf courses or retirement communities.

Ms. Hansen, who says that "animals are my passion," is proposing a Calverton zoo and animal sanctuary on 300 acres of the nearly 3,000-acre site at EPCAL, despite the fact that she doesn't own any of the land or have the money to begin the project.

Her plan is to rally enough public support for the project that the town will agree to take it on. "This is the perfect place for this to go," she said.

She collected signatures on petitions at both the Riverhead Country Fair and the Northeastern Organic Farming Association expo in Jamesport and has garnered 410 signatures, 160 from Riverhead Town residents. The petition states that the signers think a zoo and animal sanctuary at EPCAL is a "good idea." She's also given a presentation at the Greater Calverton Civic Association.

Ms. Hansen also has a website,, explaining the project. She was hoping to gather supporters and plan strategy at a meeting last Monday, Nov. 8, at Riley Avenue Elementary School, but no one showed except a News-Review reporter.

How much further will Ms. Hansen go with the proposal? "I'll know when to pack it in if I get a strong sense that the community didn't want it," she said. Despite the zero turnout last Monday, she said, "from the response I got at the Riverhead Country Fair, I got a sense that people are not happy with what's happening at EPCAL."