Giglio: EPCAL may still have a shot at FAA facility

05/27/2014 10:00 AM |


The Federal Aviation Administration has announced that it will build a new Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) facility on Long Island, but it hasn’t announced where on Long Island.

And that would seem to indicate that the Enterprise Park at Calverton might still have a chance of having the facility built there, as Riverhead Town officials had hoped.

“So, we’re still in the running and that’s a good thing,” said Riverhead Councilwoman Jodi Giglio, who urged the Town Board to submit a proposal to the FAA seeking to build its new facilities at EPCAL. “Hopefully, they will bring the facility to EPCAL and bring all the jobs that are associated with it.

“We’ve got plenty of room at EPCAL to build the TRACON facially now and the other facility at a later date.”

The current TRACON building is in Westbury and is more than 30 years old. The FAA had planned to build a new $490 million Integrated Control Facility that would have combined the functions of the TRACON with those of the New York Air Route Control Central in Ronkonkoma. The FAA had sought proposals for sites where this facility could be located, with ECPAL being submitted by Riverhead Town officials.

But now, with the FAA not building the Integrated Control Facility for the time being, it’s uncertain if the locations that were proposed for it, such as EPCAL, would need to be resubmitted in order to be considered as a site for the new TRACON.

“The FAA has not been clear on that,” said Congressman Tim Bishop (D-Southampton), who represents the five East End towns, Brookhaven Town and part of Smithtown.

“All they said is that it is going to be on Long Island and it is going to be built in a location that will allow for future expansion,” Mr. Bishop said.

With the possibly of both FAA facilities and the 950 jobs contained in them being moved off Long Island, Mr. Bishop views the decision to built the new TRACON on Long Island as a victory.

“Our goal was to keep the facility on Long Island, because it could have gone elsewhere,” Mr. Bishop said.

The Long Island Congressional delegation, including himself, Congressman Steve Israel (D-Huntington), Congressman Peter King (R-Seaford), and Congresswoman Caroline McCarthy (D-Mineola) all agreed that they would fight to keep the FAA facilities on Long Island, rather than each trying to get it located in their own districts, Mr. Bishop said.

“So the fight we wanted to win, we won,” Mr. Bishop said.

In addition to the 950 jobs that could have been lost had the facility been moved off Long Island, the construction cost for the new TRACON is estimated at about $250 million, Mr. Bishop said.

Air traffic controllers located at these two facilities have an average salary of $137,000 and the overall average salary at these two locations is $100,000, said U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-Brooklyn).

The FAA will upgrade the TRACON facility on Long Island and consider additional upgrades to the Ronkonkoma facility at a later date, he said.

The FAA said in a release: “The new facility may be at a location with the capability to expand to manage operations from other facilities in the area.”

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter, who initially opposed Ms. Giglio’s proposal to try and lure the FAA to EPCAL, said Thursday that he was under the impression, from press accounts, that the FAA was simply going to rebuild the TRACON at Westbury. He said that while it would be nice to have the facility in EPCAL, the town would have to give the FAA 50 acres for free and then hook it up to utilities.

“That’s an expensive proposition for the Town of Riverhead,” he said. “It may be a blessing in disguise if they don’t come.”

The supervisor said there are many Riverhead residents who work at the Air Route center in Ronkonkoma and probably some who work at the TRACON in Westbury.

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