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Opposition to Aquebogue YMCA Forms to 'Save Main Road'

Jamesport Civic Association, which opposes a 40,000-square-foot YMCA on Route 25 in Aquebogue, holding Saturday morning public forum at the Jamesport Meeting House.

Construction hasn't started. No plans have even been submitted in Town Hall. But opponents of a YMCA in Aquebogue are already organizing at the thought of constructing a 40,000-square-foot facility on Route 25.

Headlines that organizers of the Peconic YMCA were weeks away from signing off on an 8.8-acre parcel across the road from Vineyard Caterers. Though nothing remains signed as of Monday, a public meeting organized by the Jamesport Civic Association - titled "Save Main Road" - is scheduled for Saturday morning at the Jamesport Meeting House to and discuss the project.

"I support a YMCA," said Georgette Keller, president of the Jamesport Civic Association. "Just not in that location. I grew up with a Y. I'm all for a Y. But 40,000 square-feet on Main Road east of Route 105 is inappropriate, especially if other locations are available."

The 'Save Main Road' campaign follows suit with Riverhead Neighborhood Preservation Coalition's 'Save Wading River' and the North Fork Environmental Council's 'Save Sound Avenue' campaigns in seeking to protect the rural feel of particular stretches of road in the face of development.

Keller said she takes particular issue with the size of the YMCA, and as a school teacher at Roanoke Elementary School, challenges the use that would be necessary to obtain a special permit - an educational institution. With Capital One exiting its Mattituck location, she said she'd like to see that put to use before building up a 40,000-square-foot center.

"If this is allowed to go through, we would be no different than Brookhaven," Keller said. "Let's face it, people don't go to Brookhaven to pick pumpkins."

Keller said Aquebogue Local - a civic group centered in Aquebogue - opposes the idea of a Y on Route 25 in the hamlet as well.

Currently, no firm plans have been proposed. However the Peconic YMCA, which has raised $6.5 million toward its $8 million goal and has been looking for a site in Riverhead for over a decade, mentions on its Facebook page a 40,000-square-foot recreation center, an indoor swimming pool, Pre-K and day care classrooms, and more.

Locations at Enterprise Park at Calverton, Route 105, Tuthills Lane in Aquebogue, and downtown Riverhead have all been considered before, though none have come to fruition.

Fritz Trinklein, director of strategic planning for YMCA of Long Island, said that responding to concerns about the size of a theoretical proposal would be difficult, but the 40,000-square-feet would represent less than 11 percent of the 8.8-acre footprint. He suggested that anyone with concerns about seeing a Y in Aquebogue visit another site (other nearby locations include Patchogue and Bay Shore) to see firsthand what they can expect.

Responding to concerns about traffic, Trinklein said data from a traffic study for the Village at Jamesport was taken, and used in concert with data from an existing Y similar in size and scope to one foreseen in Aquebogue. A two to three percent increase in traffic is predicted as a result of a Y placed at that particular location, he said.

And as with all YMCA's, Trinklein said, education is vital to its core mission, though perhaps not in the traditional school-day, K-through-12th grade education.

"The very definition of a class can include a zumba class, a yoga class, a swimming class," he said. "A great majority of all YMCA participants are involved in an educational program. It doesn't have to be synonymous with a school."

Councilman George Gabrielsen, a Jamesport resident, said that he supports a YMCA in town, though as of late, he said, "personally I've been getting a lot and lot of pushback against it. I'm actually surprised."

In order to meet zoning standards, the Y could would have to qualify as an "educational institution without boarding facilities or dormitories, private" - a specially-permitted use requiring town board approval under the zone RB-80.

Town Attorney Bob Kozakiewicz said on Tuesday, "I'm not inclined to concur" that a YMCA would qualify as an educational institution. "However this is all subject to further review, should an application be filed. This will require some research."

At Saturday morning's meeting - open to all the public - Keller said she plans on educating the community about the permitted zoning on the parcel, getting feedback from attendees, and according to the Save Main Road website, to show "how to write a letter of opposition, where and to whom to send it, etc."

Nicholas J. Planamento March 06, 2012 at 03:10 AM
Not sure who floated the Cap1 idea but I like it... Shopping center turned bank offices turned Y
gootgoogidygoo March 06, 2012 at 11:52 AM
I and my family and friends live in Aquebogue numbering in the hundreds support this Y at this site 100%.
Eva June Roberts-Vazquez March 06, 2012 at 12:11 PM
Why not have the YMCA in downtown Riverhead? Why do we decentralize so much out of downtown Riverhead? Why did we close the One Stop Employment Center, now open at the county center in Riverhead, The post office is way west on Main Street, the Senior Center is in Aquebogue. Are we keeping downtown for luxury businesses only ? Downtown for the people!
JimmyJames March 06, 2012 at 01:35 PM
Who the hell is the Jamesport Civic Association? Why haven't they invited the residents of Jamesport to join?
Laurie Downs March 06, 2012 at 02:36 PM
I live in Riverhead and I was invited.......I'm sure if you showed up it wouldn't be a problem.
Eva Salzman March 06, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Do you need to be invited to join a civic association? I just thought it was concerned citizens who get together and donate free time to local issues....and because it's voluntary there's no money or people to advertise it to many. My experience is groups like this would be DELIGHTED to have new members, no? I think a Y is a great idea and the basics of land planning say one uses what's there already and keeps to a commercial district, not turn EVERYWHERE into a commercial district. Besides this aren't we concerned about waste? The Capital 1 building in Mattituck is surely ideal. The center of Riverhead sounds ideal (where I live) since this is a built-up town and personally I'd like such facilities near me. Route 105 sounds ideal. But why do we ALWAYS have to find an empty space and fill it with builidings and parking lots! It's absurd and self-destructive. Interesting and heartening to see the community/civic spirit spreading with people concerned to protect the rural character of Long Island: the little still left. Very buoyed up by this!
barbara kummer March 06, 2012 at 03:57 PM
I live off of 105 and travel 25 even with the pumpkin pickers from NJ. I would not mind the extra traffic if it meant a place for activities for the community; old and young. A pool is ideal for healing our souls. The town of Riverhead is to small to accomadate a facility that large. Put a Traders Joe in downtown Riverhead, and tourist antique stores facing the river. And what is wrong with building up the area like Brookhaven, It took them 30 years; will it take us that long to come up to speed with the 21st century.
Erin Schultz March 06, 2012 at 07:58 PM
Chrissy Joyce said on Facebook: "Save the main rd? Try saving the community..."
Laurie Downs March 07, 2012 at 02:06 PM
so I have family and friends that live there also...and they too add up to the hundreds...and they are against it..the main point is nobody is against a "Y".It's the property...what happened to the property by the park on 58.That is central and would work for east ,west and central Riverhead.....oh right I get it the west don't want those kids with theirs ......
Erin Schultz March 09, 2012 at 01:07 AM
Butta Cakes said on Facebook: "I hope they have a racquettball court!!!! I will dominate you Milovich! haha"
Erin Schultz March 09, 2012 at 01:08 AM
Mike Milovich said on Facebook: "I've never played yet I still think I'd beat you."
Dianne Schwartz March 09, 2012 at 01:18 PM
Has anyone considered this site is across from a catering facility? Do you really think alcohol, children and extra traffic is a good mix?
C Baldwin March 09, 2012 at 07:23 PM
The Patchogue YMCA has 16,000 members. A 2-3% increase in traffic seems like a bit of an understatement. Riverhead needs a YMCA but not in Aquebogue. The fact that a site closer to downtown has been rejected is absurd. The Long Island YMCA will have to reconsider this decision. It doesn't mesh well with existing residential zoning and we need to respect the $400,000 Master Plan that we enacted into law.
C Baldwin March 09, 2012 at 07:26 PM
Throw in firearms too Diane! I personally found three deer hunters on the property last week shooting their guns and running their beagles. Oy. They were "lost" if you can believe.
mcshaded March 10, 2012 at 01:24 PM
I think Eva is dead on. It would probably cost a lot more to renovate the Capital One building, but it would be a great location, no open space is lost, and it would be a great boost for Mattituck.
Eva Salzman March 10, 2012 at 04:27 PM
I meant Route 58 not 105. Or Capital 1 building. Or downtown. The list is endless of built-up and commercial areas. This is because there are already too many of these alas, to the great detriment to Long Island in my opinion, but anyway what's there is there.

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