Featured Story
04/15/17 6:00am
04/15/2017 6:00 AM

Part of the more than $11 million cleanup effort underway at the Enterprise Park at Calverton could take up to 30 years to complete, according to the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, which is charged with remediating pollution caused by the U.S. Navy when it leased the site to the Grumman Corporation more than 20 years ago.


11/05/13 7:49am
11/05/2013 7:49 AM

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | (L-R) IDA executive director Tracy Stark-James takes notes as Skydive Long Island owner Ray Maynard and Barbara Schiano speak to the IDA board Monday night.

Plans to build a two-story tall indoor skydiving tunnel are a little bit closer to taking flight.

The proposal — a new building to house the unique attraction at Skydive Long Island in the Enterprise Park at Calverton — will be subject to a public hearing over requested tax incentives in December, after members of Riverhead’s Industrial Development Agency expressed support for the proposal, with one member of the board calling the plan a “home run.”

COURTESY PHOTO | People skydiving in a vertical wind tunnel.

COURTESY PHOTO | People skydiving in a wind tunnel.

“That’s a really great project,” said IDA executive director Tracy Stark-James at the board’s meeting Monday night in Riverhead Town Hall. “It’s truly a regional draw.”

Skydive Long Island owner Ray Maynard and Barbara Schiano, his wife, told the board their planned attraction would not only allow skydivers to practice jumps in a safe environment, but would also draw tens of thousands more into town during the typical skydiving off-season to experience the indoor wind tunnel — without having to get in a plane.

“There are many people who just go to these indoor wind tunnels to experience freefall who never go skydiving,” Ms. Schiano said.

Skydive Long Island would build a four-story tall building to house the 18-feet high, 14.5-foot wide vertical wind tunnel, which would use giant fans to lift customers into the air.

“It’s going to bring a lot more people to the town,” Mr. Maynard said, adding that the nearest indoor skydiving attractions were in New Hampshire and North Carolina.

Mr. Maynard also said that, while tunnels are used by professional skydivers to train, the general public could buy time inside the tunnel with an instructor in 2-minute blocks. Up to six experienced skydivers could use the tunnel for practicing formation diving.

The project — estimated to cost between $4.5 million to $5 million — would also feature glass running windows along the side of the tunnel, allowing onlookers to see in. It would take up to a year to build the structure, Ms. Schiano said.

Skydive Long Island — which has been in operation out of Calverton since 2000 — is asking for three types of tax incentives: a sales tax exemption, a mortgage tax exemption and a deal on its real property taxes, Ms. Stark-James said.

The sales tax exemption would apply to all construction material purchases, from building supplies to lighting fixtures for the new building.

Skydive Long Island has already secured partial funding for the project through the U.S. Small Business Administraiton, which doesn’t require mortgage tax to be paid. The local mortgage recording tax exemption would apply to the remainder not covered under the SBA and would eliminate the usual 1.05 percent tax.

The final incentive is to reduce the real property tax assessment, Ms. Stark-James said. The IDA’s standard property tax abatement reduces the assessed value of the new additions to the property by 50 percent. The property would gain an additional 5 percent on its assessed value each year until it hit the full 100 percent of its value, Ms. Stark-James said.

For example, if a property were worth $50,000 and another $10,000 in assessed value were added, the property’s abated assessed value would be $55,000 in the first year of the abatement, increasing by 5 percent each year until it reached the full $60,000.

While the 50 percent initial abatement is the typical IDA offer, Ms. Stark-James said Skydive Long Island was planning to request more of an abatement from the IDA. While board members didn’t reveal whether they would support the incentives, all expressed admiration for Mr. Maynard, a longtime local business owner.

The proposed incentives will be open for public comment at the IDA’s next meeting in early December. In the meantime, Ms. Schiano said the company is working on getting the necessary zoning permits to build the new attraction.

“This is going to be another iconic attraction [for Riverhead],” she said. “There’s nothing like it in the area.”

[email protected]

10/15/13 3:11pm
10/15/2013 3:11 PM
EPCAl in Riverhead, FAA

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | A view of the EPCAL site from the sky.

A bill which passed both houses of the state legislature this past June, green-lighting a fast track plan for development proposals at Enterprise Park at Calverton, has been delivered to the desk of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and now awaits his signature.

According to Drew Biondo, spokesman for state Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), Cuomo has 10 days from Friday to either approve or veto the legislation, which was sponsored by LaValle in the state senate and Assemblyman Fred Thiele in the lower house of the state legislature.

It received only one “no” vote in the state legislature, from Assemblyman Robert Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst), who is the chairman of the assembly’s environmental conservation committee. Still, Mr. LaValle and Riverhead Town officials said they didn’t feel the time lag between getting the bill approved in the legislature and getting it signed by the governor was indicative of a problem.

Rather, they said, the governor has hundreds of bills placed before him to act on, and this is a normal time frame for a bill. Officials said the governor was taking bills in batches of about 50 at a time.

A spokesperson for Governor Cuomo said the governor considers about 100 bills a week.

“Obviously, I would like it signed sooner than later but I don’t think there is a cause to be concerned at this point,” Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said in August. He could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.

When the bill was initially passed, Mr. Walter called the bill “the single biggest piece of economic development legislation for Long Island, probably ever,” adding that the language gives Riverhead an economic tool that no other area in the state has.

The bill establishes the EPCAL Reuse and Revitalization Area, a 2,124-acre area for which Riverhead Town will develop an overall generic environmental impact study (GEIS) outlining what can and can’t be built there.

The town is already in the process of doing that study, which will cost about $500,000 and is expected to take about a year to complete.

But once it is completed, any fully engineered development proposal for projects within the area covered by the study will be guaranteed approval within 90 days of the application’s filing.

If an application isn’t approved in that time frame, it will receive a default approval.

The bill can’t take effect until after the study is approved, Mr. Walter said, so the four-month wait for it to be signed by the governor will not impact the overall plan.

The town attempted to get the same bill passed in 2012, when it was approved in the state senate but never came up for a vote in the assembly.