No one doubts that a YMCA would benefit the North Fork, but none present at the Jamesport Meeting House Saturday morning supports building a 40,000-square-foot recreational facility on the 8.8 wooded acres across from Vineyard Caterers in Aquebogue.
More than 50 residents, as well as Riverhead Town Board members Jodi Giglio and George Gabrielsen, gathered for the special meeting held by the Jamesport-South Jamesport Civic Association to discuss the prospect.
“It seems out of character with the community. I don’t like it, but I want to find out more,” Aquebogue resident Michael Cotula, who lives on Colonial Lane, directly west of the proposed site, said prior to the meeting. Others echoed that sentiment.
“I’m not opposed to the YMCA” said, Perry Conklin, a Main Road, Aquebogue resident for 76 years. He added the site includes a dangerous curve in Main Road road that would invite accidents.
On another note, he said, “That’s the only piece of woods between here and Southold. What do you want to do, destroy it?”
“In my opinion, it should clearly be located centrally in Riverhead so those who need it most can get there,” said Georgette Keller, president of the Jamesport-South Jamesport Civic Association. Ms. Keller, who has worked at YMCAs, said she thinks everyone supports the idea of a Riverhead Y, but the location would make it very difficult for needy families in Riverhead to get to.
Aquebogue resident Tim McElroy, who also lives on Colonial Lane, said it appears the location was chosen to appeal to those in Southold more than Riverhead residents. “That’s how it seems to me,” he said.
Many raised questions about whether the building would be a traditional YMCA, with a mission focused on strengthening a community and all of its members, or more of a country club, with high cost monthly and yearly fees that only more wealthy residents can afford.
Because of the area’s zoning, a special permit is needed from the town declaring the structure an educational, not recreational, facility.