After months of delays, Congressman Tim Bishop said this week that New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo's assistance has been sought to help broker a workable compromise between Riverhead Town and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation regarding the future of Enterprise Park at Calverton.
“Responsible economic development and local jobs is a top priority for all of us, and I am committed along with Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand to helping facilitate a dialogue among the Town Board of Riverhead, the supervisor, the DEC and the governor’s office regarding EPCAL," Bishop said this week.
For months, progress has been slow going regarding the proposed subdivision map for EPCAL. Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter said Friday that the wait has been too long, especially for residents who are unemployed and crying out for jobs.
"We’re trying to work get this subdivision broken free from the DEC," Walter said. "Right now, what the town believes is developable area and what the DEC believes is developable are not even on the same planet."
What's needed, Walter said, is for some outside intervention "to help the DEC recognize that the property was more than 6000 acres -- and 3000 acres were given to DEC," to preseve grassland.
The remainder of the parcel, Walter said, was always meant to be utilized toward fostering economic development. "It’s not about not protecting the environment -- we did that first," Walter said. "Now it's about jobs, jobs, jobs."
As Riverhead town supervisor, Walter said it's his obligation to help provide jobs when so many are out of work. "For all the people that are unemployed and need to pay their bills -- this land was given to them, for economic development. We need any help we can get to tell the DEC that the grass is not sancrosanct. You have your grass -- this isn't your grass. This is about jobs."
The DEC, Walter said, has "come up with a scenario" that is not conducive to job creation. "The DEC," Walter said, "moves the ball. It's a shell game to them."
Walter said another meeting between Town Hall staff and the DEC is slated for early next week. After than, he plans to take the subdivision plan to the town board, with some minor revisions and modifications.
"It's time to move the ball forward," Walter said, adding that it's his hope that the DEC gives the town lead agency status. "We've wasted six months. We can't waste any more time on the subdivision map before we do the environmental review."
Of the DEC, Walter added, "They're the masters of trying to make everyone believe they're the final arbiters of protecting the environment. But at the same time, eight percent of poeple on the East End are out of work -- and there are thousands of people who are barely paying their bills. I've got to watch the ball for them -- and that's what I intend to do."