Councilwoman Pushes For FAA Facility At EPCAL

Jodi Giglio urges board to agree to a proposal that would put Riverhead in the running.

Sparks flew at the Riverhead Town board work session Thursday as Town Supervisor Sean Walter and Councilwoman Jodi Giglio locked horns about a potential proposal that could site a Federal Aviation Administration radar control facility at Enterprise Park at Calverton.

According to the FAA, on Dec. 20, the FAA issued a request for information for land for the new integrated air traffic control facility in New York. The RFI is for owners of 34 to 49 acres of land within 150 miles of New York City, within the state of New York, who are willing to sell the property to the FAA. The site must be suitable for construction of an operational air traffic control campus with approximately 250,000 square feet of buildings and parking for 800 employees. The RFI is for information and planning purposes; it is not a solicitation for offers to sell the property. The RFI is open until Jan. 31.

Giglio said the FAA wanted to relocate the FAA Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) from its current location at Long Island MacArthur Airport in the Town of Islip.

Walter objected and said he had met with Islip Town Supervisor Tom Croci, as well as other elected officials, all of whom agreed to present a unified, regional front and urge the FAA to leave the facility where it currently sited, protecting the jobs of those who currently work there.

Walter said before any decisions are made, he'd like to invite Croci to the town board for a discussion.

Giglio reminded that the matter is time sensitive and a proposal needs to be put forth by next week to Congressman Tim Bishop; she stressed the importance of keeping the facility, and jobs, on Long Island and said the FAA was considering sites in Albany and elsewhere in Hudson County.

Furthermore, Giglio said, the Town of Southampton, the Town of Brookhaven, and Jan Burman, who owns a parcel at EPCAL, were planning to submit proposals. 

Other locations the FAA could be considering are the Pilgrim Psychiatric Center in Brentwood and Mitchell Field in Nassau County, the councilwoman said.

"Why not submit a proposal?" Giglio said. "If it doesn't stay in Islip, it could come to EPCAL. I don't want to jeopardize losing jobs on Long Island. Why not EPCAL?"

Councilman John Dunleavy said he'd like to see what the federal government thinks of relocating the facility to EPCAL before deciding; both he and Councilman Jim Wooten questioned the FAA's motivation for moving the radar control operation.

Walter said again that the approach needs to be regional; Giglio said she represents Riverhead residents and said she would like to see the over 800 jobs and other benefits the facility would bring to the town.

Giglio brought a list of reasons why the facility could move to EPCAL, including that EPCAL is "ready to go," with no site plan needed. Giglio sited the Stony Brook Incubator as a model for what she said could be an "anchor" facility.

In addition, Giglio said the Town of Riverhead would not need to spend money; the FAA has a budget.  

Secondary industries could spring up, Giglio said, as well as secondary spending in area hotels and restaurants. Riverhead residents, she said, would gain with jobs and payment in lieu of taxes payments. The new facility would breathe life into Riverhead's housing market, Giglio said; the new project could garner grants because the plan is shovel-ready.

In addition, Giglio said there is frontage on Route 25, the facility could hook up into town sewers, the use is consistent with the reuse plan, with light industrial jobs.

"Riverhead has a history with this use," Giglio added, and said the facility could be a "magnet for an aviation school."

The proposal, she added, would help employees with a more favorable commute time; the plan, she said, has regional draw.

Giglio asked for the board's support to have a proposal ready by Tuesday.

John Dunleavy asked why things are always "done at the last minute."

Giglio said she asked Walter in mid-December to have the matter discussed at a work session; Walter said Giglio asked for a resolution and said she should have continued working on the issue so Croci would have had time to come before the board "to explains what this means to Islip. That's important to me."

"To me, Riverhead residents are important," Giglio said

Giglio said she'd like to craft a proposal offering a lease for $1 a year for 50 years.

Walter asked, if Burman was submitting a proposal, why that wouldn't be sufficient since Burman's parcel is at EPCAL. Giglio said she did not want town residents to lose PILOT payments.

Walter and Dunleavy said they'd like to see additional data and research.

Walter said he would ask Chris Kempner to write a proposal by Tuesday.

Croci did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Do you think the FAA TRACON facility is a good fit for EPCAL? Tell us what you think in the comments section.

eugene frohnhoefer January 18, 2013 at 01:30 PM
First error in this article: there is no control tower associated with the TRACON,the TRACON is in Westbury, the Air Traffic Control Center, the big brother of the TRACON is located in Islip. Both facilities are strictly radar control facilities. The jobs, of the controllers and maintenance people would be tranfered to the new facility. It takes too long and too much money to train these people, for anyone to lose their jobs.
Lisa Finn (Editor) January 18, 2013 at 02:57 PM
Thanks for commenting; the information will be updated.
Donna January 18, 2013 at 03:44 PM
I think anything that is going to bring jobs and other business to EPCAL should be proposed. Thank you Jodi!
Vince Taldone January 18, 2013 at 04:36 PM
Those 800 jobs are mostly, if not all, well paid positions. The East End and particularly Riverhead can benefit from this greatly. It seems silly to me that we seem to fall over ourselves to get more low paying retail jobs in RIverhead but then watch our town council debate whether we want this proposed use and its associated high wage jobs. Hmm! The issue doesn't seem that complex to me! The only question I have is whether the FAA will pay property taxes or at least make PILOT payments to offset any costs to the town of the new facility. We should want to see some property tax revenue generated from the use but even if that is not the case, I am pretty sure that 800 well paid positions in Riverhead would generate lots of tax revenue in many other ways.
eugene frohnhoefer January 18, 2013 at 06:01 PM
Vince, We will not benefit, if I understand you thinking that this project will generate 800 new jobs, in the way you think. These jobs are all Federal employees and will be transfered form their current location to EPCAL. All of these employees live here on the Island and it would not require a relocation. The commute for these individuals would change and for most become shortened. So jobwise there is no benefit.
L.I.M.A. January 18, 2013 at 07:56 PM
Construction, these buildings and parking lots don't unfold out a box . . . It would make jobs, might not be permanent, but those are also good jobs and many in those fields are starving
Pete Scalzo January 18, 2013 at 09:11 PM
Congresswoman Giglio makes many good points as to why the Riverhead Town Board should submit a proposal to bring this project to EPCAL. Supervisor Walter's comment that if Burman was submitting a proposal why that wouldn't be sufficient because Burman was at EPCAL. In my opinion this statement sounds half hearted at best. Here is the reason. If the objective is to keep these FAA jobs on Long Island then wouldn't it be best to present a deal that the FAA could not refuse! I would think that the Town Board is in a better position to offer such a deal than perhaps Burman can present. Let them both submit their proposals. Just keep these jobs on the Island. Pete Scalzo
L.I.M.A. January 18, 2013 at 11:29 PM
That is why sean didn't get elected to the leg position and this will be just one more nail in his tacky political coffin that is not serving the people
A.N.Other January 19, 2013 at 01:05 AM
Maybe we will get some lower paying jobs, but not air traffic control and tech positions. I don't want to see that added traffic on 25, look at all those damaged car transporters, upgrade Grumman Blvd.
charles rimicci January 19, 2013 at 12:00 PM
i agree sounds like he is angry because he did not get elected to the other position. typica;l of today's politician always me first
Ken January 19, 2013 at 02:35 PM
The only problem I see with Ms. Giglio's proposal is the "$1 for 50 years." Competitive bids please. There are already too many give-aways (i.e. 2nd give-away for the aquarium) within Riverehead.
John Pine January 20, 2013 at 02:32 AM
Of course Sean Walter would oppose this as it doesn't provide the cheap low wage labor he's working so hard to bring into Riverhead. This kind of facility would fit right into what this site is for, both when it comes to it's environment and history. It would bring well paying tech jobs. Sean Walter wants nothing but tacky strip malls all along Rt.25 if he had his way, look at what he's done to Rt.58, and how crime rates have skyrocketted. Sean Walter needs to be thrown out of office, he certainly does not have the best interests of Riverhead reisdents or Long Islanders at heart,
Catherine January 21, 2013 at 12:11 PM
Thank you Jodi for asking that Riverhead Town Board to submit a proposal before the deadline date for this project. From what I read the FAA is only seeking possible sites not making a formal decision by 01/31. EPCAL seems like a perfect location and the residents of the town of Riverhead deserve to have our elected officials look into this project.


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