TOWN OF RIVERHEAD
Office of the Supervisor
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 1, 2014
CONTACT: Sean M. Walter, Supervisor - (631) 727-3200 Ext. 251
NYS Budget Includes $5M for EPCAL Sewer Upgrades
Riverhead, NY - Supervisor Sean M. Walter announced that the recently adopted New York State budget includes $5 million for upgrades to the sewer plant at Enterprise Park at Calverton (EPCAL).
Supervisor Walter credited NYS Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, NYS Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele (District 1) and NYS Assemblyman Anthony H. Palumbo (District 2) for supporting the proposed project and recognizing its significant environmental and economic development benefits to the region.
“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Suffolk County Department of Health have long advocated for an advanced wastewater treatment facility upgrade at EPCAL,” Walter said. “New York State funding is critical towards beginning the first phase of the necessary upgrades and ensuring the economic and environmental health of the downstate region.”
The Town of Riverhead has also received $1.34 million in state funding from the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council for the proposed sewer upgrades that will be undertaken in three phases. The cost of the initial phase has a projected cost of more than $6.9 million and the total cost required for full build out at EPCAL is estimated to be approximately $23 million. These upgrades are vital to the environmental health of the region because EPCAL is at the western end of the Peconic Estuary System. The Peconic River supports a wide variety of plants and animals, both within its water and along its banks. The shores of the bay contain an 800-acre, undisturbed salt marsh complex, which is considered a rich marine ecosystem that serves as a nursery for a variety of marine life. The Peconic Estuary is one of 28 estuaries in the National Estuary Program (NEP) administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and was accepted into the program as an “Estuary of National Significance” in 1992.
Senator LaValle, the Senate sponsor, said, “I fought long and hard during this budget process to secure the necessary funding for EPCAL recognizing its regional impact on economic development. The legislation passed last year by Assemblyman Thiele and I set the stage for the inclusion of $5 million in this year’s State Budget. With Assemblyman Palumbo’s assistance, we were able to secure the additional funding. By building the infrastructure, we can assure that the businesses will locate, develop, and create new jobs in the region.”
Assemblyman Thiele, who sponsored the bill in the Assembly, said, “With the passage of State legislation in 2013, Senator LaValle and I were able to open up the doors for the redevelopment of the EPCAL site. The $5 million included in the recently approved 2014-2015 Final State Budget for waste water treatment upgrades at EPCAL will ensure that we can simultaneously create jobs and foster economic development of the East End, while also meeting water quality protections and standards.”
Assemblyman Palumbo said, “This is the first of many initiatives to further protect and enhance the water quality of the East End. I am proud to join with Senator LaValle and Assemblyman Thiele in supporting this important legislation, which not only benefits Riverhead, but the entire region.” He added that the legislation had strong bi-partisan support, and that he expects such bipartisanism to continue throughout the redevelopment process for EPCAL.
The 2,900 acre EPCAL property was transferred from the U.S. Navy to the Town of Riverhead in 1998 at no consideration for the purposes of economic development. At its peak in 1986, Grumman, which leased the property from the Navy, employed nearly 3,000 employees at EPCAL and provided approximately $1.1 million in property tax revenue to Riverhead’s taxing districts. EPCAL is the largest remaining economic development project on Long Island. Walter said, “The cooperation of federal, state, county and local governments will be necessary to making the most of this once in a generation economic development opportunity.”
Walter also praised Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and Riverhead’s representatives in the state legislature for passing a responsible budget on time. The Budget holds spending growth below two percent for the fourth consecutive year and includes $1.5 billion in property tax relief for New York homeowners that is linked to and conditioned on approved plans for local governments to become more efficient. “I applaud Governor Cuomo and the New York State Legislature for agreeing on a budget that emphasizes the things most important to Riverhead taxpayers - fiscal accountability, tax relief, economic development and environmental protection. Like the Governor, I believe it is necessary to reduce the tax burden and invest in our infrastructure to keep and lure business to our region. Governor Cuomo and the New York State Legislature have articulated the importance of creating a business friendly New York State and this budget demonstrates the commitment to that mutual goal."