Letters To The Editor
Publication The News-Review
Date November 24, 2004
Put EPCAL to better use
To the Editor:
I believe that the Town Board has Riverhead's best interest at heart, but after reading "Wilpon submits $50M EPCAL offer" (Nov. 18), I have some concerns that I would like to express. My concerns are followed by a list of questions that the Town Board should be asking/answering as this proposal is considered.
What can I say? EPCAL. Land, nearly 3,000 acres, in what is arguably one of the most desirable locations in the world: Long Island, New York, USA.
I know the board is working hard and wants to do what's best. The money from the sale of this land would be substantial. But, what are you thinking? This sale would represent nearly one quarter of the land at EPCAL.
Riverhead and Long Island do not need another golf course, let alone four! Or 216 residential units that cost half a million dollars apiece. And I don't care how much they're offering or what it means to the tax rolls. That land is worth more and the developers know it. They're in it to make money. And now they want to multiply their profits four-fold.
EPCAL has such potential ... it is the key to Riverhead's future in the 21st century and beyond ... I just can't say enough about it's significance. It's priceless and can be put to much better use. Don't give away the store! (And unfortunately, although they are hard-working, caddies and chambermaids are not considered high-paying jobs.)
1. One concern expressed by the Long Island Association and others is that businesses cannot find the skilled work force needed on Long Island because there is a lack of affordable housing. An affordable home, as defined by Suffolk County, is less than $250,000 for a family of 4 with an income of $68,250 (See Newsday 10/28/04, p.A27: "Bond would be a boon for builders"). Do the residential units bordering the golf courses currently being proposed fit this description? The sons and daughters of Riverhead are leaving Long Island because they cannot afford to buy a home. Will these residential units be designed with them in mind and encourage them to stay?
2. There are 81 golf courses in Suffolk and 49 in Nassau for a total of 130. Although it fits the current zoning, does Riverhead really need/want four more golf courses?
3. This proposal could completely consume the remaining available recreational acreage, if implemented with the rezoning (from recreational to industrial) that is being contemplated. Will the sale of several hundreds of acres for a golf course/hotel/conference center/residential area mark the end of recreational uses at EPCAL?
4. Eight years have passed since the original 1996 Reuse Plan was published and much has changed. Should the board consider reinstating a committee to revisit that plan with appropriate community/business input and revise it, including recommendations for marketing? I don't mean to suggest anything that will result in "paralysis by analysis" -- perhaps [a delay of] one month. That's not such a big investment considering what's at stake.
(Editor's note: Ms. Hansen is an advocate of establishing a zoo and animal sanctuary at EPCAL, and has asked the Riverhead Town Board to dedicate 300 acres there for that purpose.)