TIM GANNON PHOTO | EPCAL’s western runway no longer covered with storm-damaged cars.
The runways at the Enterprise Park at Calverton are now car-free for the first time since mid-November, when Riverhead Town inked a deal to allow thousands of storm-damaged cars to be stored on the EPCAL runways until insurance companies could sell them to recyclers.
The cars were total-loss cars that had been flooded out during Sandy and were now owned by insurance companies, which contracted with auto auction companies that auctioned them off to licensed recyclers, such as Illinois-based Insurance Auto Auctions, which had a deal with the town.
While all this was bad news for the owners of those cars, and generated some controversy when thousands of vehicles began showing up for storage at EPCAL, the lease arrangements were good news for Riverhead Town’s finances.
“I’d say we made about $1.8 million all together,” Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said Friday.
The town had stood to make about $2.8 million if IAA had sought the two three-month extensions allowed in the contract.
The most recent contract with IAA is set to expire at the end of this month, and the last of the cars, which were stored on the western runway at EPCAL are gone already.
The company initially entered into an agreement with the town on Nov. 15 to lease 52 acres at the unused western runway for $3,200 per acre per month for six months.
In addition to extending that deal to the end of June for a smaller area, the town also, along the way, leased out the eastern runway, a move that involved a private deal with IAA and Skydive Long Island in which Skydive, the only business using that runway, was compensated by IAA for the temporary shut down of the business.
In addition to the town leases, land owned by developer Jan Burman and land owned by Mavilla Foods, both at EPCAL, also were leased to companies storing Sandy-damaged cars.
Those areas are now car-free as well.
Unlike the town and Mavila deals, which involved storing the cars on concrete, the deal between Mr. Burman and Copart USA saw the cars stored on grass, which resulted in violations being issued by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
Although Richard Amper, the executive director of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society, had criticized the town for storing the cars on the runways and taxiways at EPCAL, the DEC said it had no objection to storing cars on pavement.