More Sandy-damaged cars heading to Calverton

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Cars, trucks and SUV's parked on town-owned land at the eastern runway at the Calverton Enterprise Park.
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Cars, trucks and SUV’s parked on town-owned land at the eastern runway at the Calverton Enterprise Park.

Riverhead Town is planning to lease out even more space at the Enterprise Park at Calverton to Insurance Auto Auction, the Illinois-based company that has been storing flood-damaged cars on both runways at the site in the wake of superstorm Sandy.

The town will receive the same $3,200 per acre it received in it’s first two deals with IAA, although officials on Thursday were unsure just how much land the town has left to lease at  the EPCAL property. So the exact dollar amount the town will receive was not immediately known.

IAA holds online auctions weekly to sell off the flood-damaged cars to dealers or salvage shops.

Officials estimate that about 200,000 cars were damaged by flooding in Hurricane Sandy.

The town already leased 52.14 acres on the inactive 7,000-foot runway to the west of the EPCAL property to IAA for six months, and then followed that up by agreeing to an arrangement with IAA and SkyDive Long Island to allow IAA to shut down the active 10,000 foot runway on the eastern part of EPCAL to store more cars.

SkyDive Long Island has agreed to shut down operations for four months to make room for the cars.

The first deal, using runways and taxiways on the western runway, will net the town over $1 million for six months, with an option for another six months, which could double that amount.

The second deal, using only the runway and not the taxiway on the active runway, would net the town $670,464 over four months.

The town originally planned to include the taxiway on the eastern runway, but eliminated it when it was pointed out that part of the taxiway is privately owned, and the other part town owned.

But now, IAA needs more space and the town is planning to lease the remaining taxiway space it owns, while IAA would also have to reach an agreement with the private owners for the rest of the taxiway.

“What we’re trying to avoid is having these car lots pop everywhere,” Supervisor Sean Walter said at Thursday’s Town Board work session.

“Instead of having these all over town, it’s better to contain it in one area,” Councilman John Dunleavy said. “EPCAL is mostly screened from Route 25, so you can’t see the cars.”

In addition to the cars stored on town property at EPCAL, a company called Copart is storing cars on property owned by Jan Burman, which is south of the eastern runway at EPCAL. The state Department of Environmental Conservation  has ordered those cars to be removed because they are being stored on grasslands.

DEC has not opposed the cars stored on town land because they are on paved surfaces.

DEC officials have said the cars have not yet been removed from the Burman land, and the state is considering what action to take.

A representative from IAA, who declined to give his name because he is not authorized to speak to the media, said at a Town Board public work session meeting Thursday the company estimates there are between 7,500 and 9,500 storm-damaged cars still left on Long Island, but they are not all coming to EPCAL.

IAA has sites at Belmont race track, the Brookhaven Amphitheatre, Bethpage and Medford, the representative said.

The company is also auctioning off 2,000 cars this week, he said.

“It’s getting toward the end,” he said. IAA is leasing a total of between 250 and 275 acres of property to store cars, he said.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio, who has an office at her private job at EPCAL — which used to be a Grumman naval weapons plant before the land was turnover to the town — said the trucks bringing cars in and out of EPCAL have been speeding.

“Businesses (at EPCAL) are very upset that these trucks are coming in and out of there on a regular basis,” she said.

Mr. Dunleavy said the trucks deliver to the IAA sites enter from Route 25 and don’t pass the businesses.

“They overshoot it sometimes,” Ms. Giglio said.

Officials on Thursday did not offer any estimates on how many cars are already at the EPCAL site.

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