Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy is nominating first-term Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter for a seat on the influential Long Island Regional Planning Council, in part to give the East End a voice on the regional advisory panel, Mr. Levy confirmed with the News-Review this week.
“We believe that Sean is an intelligent and thoughtful supervisor who will lend a sense of balance and an East End perspective” on the 12-member board, which is made up of six Nassau and six Suffolk council members, Mr. Levy said.
Mr. Walter’s nomination still has to be confirmed by a vote of the county Legislature, which could come as soon as its March 8 meeting.
“I think that the supervisor’s appointment reflects the county executive’s recognition of the East End as playing a crucial part in Long Island’s future,” said Dan Aug, a spokesman for Mr. Levy, “But it also puts Supervisor Walter among the top planning officials on all of Long Island, and gives him that platform to represent this region.”
If confirmed, Mr. Walter would take the seat recently vacated by Babylon Supervisor Steve Ballone.
Reached Friday, Mr. Walter called the nomination “an honor,” and said his new role will be especially helpful as the Town Board seeks to oversee a massive redevelopment plan at the Enterprise Park in Calverton. A $450,000 reuse study for the former Grumman property is just now getting underway.
“Part of the job as a town supervisor is being salesman-in-chief,” Mr. Walter said. “You got to get out of your office and promote this town. The [Long Island Regional Planning Council] just gives you another opportunity to get out and speak to people about Riverhead. It’s truly an honor for anybody from Riverhead to be picked for this post. We’re a small town and I think it gives us a lot of credibility.”
Each county executive appoints six council members, but those must include at least one mayor and one supervisor from within each county.
If Mr. Walter, a Republican, is not reelected in November he would have to step down from the non-paid post.
County Legislator Ed Romaine (R-Center Moriches), whose district covers Riverhead and the rest of the North Fork, said he planned to enthusiastically vote in favor of the appointment. And he urged his fellow lawmakers to do the same.
“This could be a great thing for Riverhead, and will grant Mr. Walter access to some of the region’s most established developers,” Mr. Romaine said. “The supervisor will be in regular contact with these people, during which he could always say, ‘Hey, when you’re done with that project, please consider all we have to offer in Riverhead.’”
Mr. Aug agreed the appointment could also help in crafting a development plan in Calverton.
“With Riverhead the site of the largest redevelopment site in the county, with the 2,900 acres of property that is regionally significant for development,” he said. “It’s certainly appropriate Riverhead be represented on the council.”
The council does not have any regulatory powers but serves as an advisory panel only.
Mr. Romaine said the chief mission of the council’s planning work is to consider potential projects — not from a village, town or even county level, but a regional level.
“From 30,000 feet up,” he said.