Polo fields might be the perfect future plan for Enterprise Park at Calverton, Councilman Jim Wooten said.
"I would like board to consider this, and to take a good, hard look at a polo project and an equestrian village at EPCAL," Wooten said.
The councilman said polo is a growing sport, with teens traveling upstate and to Long Island to engage in competition.
Wooten, who brought up the issue at Thursday's town board work session, even though the discussion item wasn't listed on the agenda, asked Supervisor Sean Walter if the matter could be put on the agenda for discussion at a later date.
Councilman John Dunleavy said he believed polo at EPCAL was a good idea.
Polo has been proposed during the past for EPCAL, along with other plans such as a drag strip and a paragliding facility.
Walter said before any decisions could be made, the subdivision of EPCAL needed to be completed.
Dunleavy said when a plan for polo fields at EPCAL was proposed in the past, the possibiliy was for 400 homes on the parcel.
"This is a housing proposal at EPCAL," Walter said.
Dunleavy said those living in the residences would not be there full-time.
Councilman George Gabrielsen questioned how houses at EPCAL would prove a "long-term benefit" and promise returns from future development.
Wooten said there has been a "lot of misinformation. People don't know what the plan is."
The Town of Riverhead, Dunleavy said, is changing from a "farming to a horse community."
Wooten said equestrian events are "big" and such a vilage could benefit the town.
The supervisor, however, said up until that point, the town board had been very good about standing together with the subdivision of EPCAL as a common goal.
Walter said he had been speaking with the Department of Environmental Conservation and he felt certain the town would receive lead agency status in the environmental review, something he has been advocating to receive for months.
The supervisor asked that the board allow the subdivision to be completed; wait until the town has received lead agency status; and be patient until scoping is complete before considering any proposals for the site.
Reflecting on the carousel that now sits in Greenport at Mitchell Park, Wooten said, "Sometimes we take our time and things slip through our hands."
Wooten said the developer who has expressed interest in EPCAL, Jorge Justo Neuss and his son German Neuss of the International Polo Organization, who first came before the board in 2011, would create an equestrian village, complete with an arena and an equine hospital, on 460 acres, for a $40 milion purchase price. The developer, Wooten said, would be responsible for building necessary infrastructure.
"That's the whole property," Walter said.
Dunleavy said he took a drive up west to a number of industrial parks this week. "There are more buildings empty," Dunleavy said. "They're not going to come to Riverhead if there are places closer to New York City."
If the town board sold the acreage to one developer for polo grounds, that would alleviate concerns about finding businesses to fill EPCAL, he said.
Walter said his aim is to get the subdivision done and then, send out a request for proposals based on the final subdivision map.
"Why should one company come in and get first dibs?" he asked.
Dunleavy said his focus was on generating income from the site. "I think the East End is farms, and recreational uses. A horse arena is a better fit than business for EPCAL," he said.
Walter said he wants the town to dictate EPCAL's future and said he wants RFPs for proposals issued; the polo proponents, he said, could submit their proposal then.
Gabrielsen agreed that the town board did not know if polo was the best option for the site.
"People were against the ski mountain," once proposed for EPCAL, Dunleavy said, but Riverhead Town still received over $7 million for its coffers because a contract was negotiated.
Right now, Dunleavy added, EPCAL is not generating income.
Walter reminded him about the contracts with Insurance Auto Auction Corp for storage of Sandy-damaged cars at EPCAL that have brought in $2.7 million.
The supervisor promised, after the subdivision and lead agency issues were resolved, the company could come in to discuss their application. But, the supervisor said he could not promise he'd vote for the proposal because he wants to see RFPs for the EPCAL site.