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Walter: Riverhead Backs Out of Preserve Grab If Skeet Range Proposed

With Riverhead using Community Preservation Funds, county could be unable to use money to move the skeet range from Yaphank.

After the county's Environment, Planning, and Agriculture Committee green-lighted the purchase of over 300 acres in Northville on Monday, Supervisor Sean Walter said on Wednesday that he would not be interested in joining forces with the county to buy the land if the county's trap and skeet range comes as part of the deal.

Following the unanimous approval by the committee on Monday, Presiding Officer Bill Lindsay, D-Holbrook, told Newsday he may try to delay the vote on Tuesday, Oct. 11 to persuade his colleagues to move the county's trap and skeet shooting range to the property. The measure still has to pass the general legislature and obtain approval from County Executive Steve Levy in order to become final.

The county is contributing $17.8 million of a total purchase price of $18.3 million.

"If the county is going to unilaterally decide to move that range, we won't participate," Walter said. "We don't want to move a problem from Mastic-Shirley to the Town of Riverhead. That has become a very unpopular thing."

Lindsay told the newspaper that Riverhead shouldn't be "driving the train" if it's only contributing 5 percent of the overall purchase price. He was not immediately available for comment on Wednesday.

However the town's use of Community Preservation Funds could be what gives it the right to refuse the trap and skeet range.

Deputy Town Attorney Anne Marie Prudenti said on Wednesday such a use "does not appear to be consistent with chapter 14 of the town code, or town law 64-E."

Chapter 14 of the town code calls for the town's Open Space Committee to make recommendations on CPF-funded purchases. Prudenti said the committee wants to "eliminate and prohibit uses that are not compatible with the natural ecology present on the parcel."

Town Law 64-E, which dictates how East End towns use their CPF money, places restrictions on, "projects which promote the protection or enhancement of the natural, scenic, and open space character for which the interests or rights in real property were acquired."

"A hunting preserve is quite different from a shooting range," Prudenti said, referring to the land's past use as a private preserve.

Legis. Ed Romaine, R-Center Moriches, said he believes Lindsay's call to move the range is a re-election ploy to get votes for him and Legis. Kate Browning, WF-Shirley, as election season approaches. Browning's Legislative Aide, Josh Slaughter, said he sees no difference between operating a skeet range at a county park in Yaphank and a county park in Riverhead.

to town board members plans for the North Fork Preserve, which include an RV camping area, kayaking on a pond, picnic areas, ball fields, and walking trails, among other things. The town board approved its $500,000 partnership with the county to purchase the land soon after.

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