FAA to visit Riverhead for possible control tower facility

MICHAEL WHITE FILE PHOTO | An FAA control tower currently at MacArthur Airport in Islip Town.
MICHAEL WHITE FILE PHOTO | An FAA control tower currently at MacArthur Airport in Islip Town.

Federal Aviation Administration officials are coming to Riverhead Town in mid-March to check out 50 acres at the town’s Enterprise Park in Calverton the FAA is considering for a new air traffic control complex, town officials said.

If the EPCAL land is selected for the complex, as many as 800 jobs could come to Riverhead, said Riverhead Councilwoman Jodi Giglio, who is coordinating the town’s effort to woo the FAA and announced the news through a press release Monday.

EPCAl in Riverhead, FAA
NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | A view of the EPCAL site from the sky.

The facility would replace the FAA’s current air traffic control facilities at Long Island, one at MacArthur Airport in Islip and another in Westbury, according to federal officials.

Editorial: FAA facility would be a welcome boost

Ms. Giglio said the town submitted its response to a request for information from the FAA by the Jan. 31 deadline, offering up 50 acres adjacent to the Stony Brook Business Incubator on Route 25, free of charge, to the FAA.

“The important thing is to keep the jobs on Long Island, getting them all to stay here,” said Ms. Giglio, who added that 800 skilled workers at EPCAL would bring more people to Riverhead’s restaurants, golf courses and other businesses.

“The secondary industries would be phenomenal, as well as secondary spending with this type of facility as an anchor,” she said.

On offering the land for free, she said, “I think [the free land] would act as a loss leader, so we can create secondary industries and spending.”

At its height, the Grumman Corporation that for decades ran a fighter jet testing and assembly facility at the site employed about 3,000 workers.

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter, who was initially against trying to lure the FAA to town because he and other supervisors pledged to support Islip’s proposal, said he was glad federal officials would be touring the site.

“I think its wonderful…. It’s always positive when people are coming to look at property at EPCAL. I’m certainly interested in any leads for selling property there.”

He didn’t think the meeting would be open to the public, but added “all the details” have not been worked out yet.

Ms. Giglio said she was expecting a call later Monday to confirm when, exactly, FAA officials would be visiting, and whether they will just be viewing the site or spending the day in Riverhead to see what the town has to offer workers.

The new facility would incorporate state-of-the-art satellite air traffic equipment, replacing older, radar-based equipment now used at the Islip and Westbury facilities.

Ms. Giglio said the Islip facility, which currently has about 800 employees, is also used as a training area for air traffic controllers who are later sent to airports throughout the county.

“I think they’re looking for an easy commute for their employees at the Islip base,” she said.

Initial specs the town has received from the FAA say any towers to be installed would not have windows, and she believes none of them would be taller than the 75-foot height restriction currently at EPCAL, Ms. Giglio said.

FAA officials said last month they intended to locate the facility on between 34 and 49 acres within 150 miles of New York City, and in New York State.

The federal officials are planning to build a total of 250,000 square feet of buildings, towers and parking for the employees.


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Check back at and see the Feb. 28 newspaper for more information.

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