Home Opinion In My Opinion Is our supervisor ‘qualified and eligible’?

Is our supervisor ‘qualified and eligible’?

Photo: Denise Civiletti

Apparently, despite our (retired nurse) supervisor’s ongoing attempts to force a decision that Triple Five is not qualified and eligible to redevelop EPCAL, the Town of Brookhaven and the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council have decided just the opposite. In fact, in naming Triples Five’s plan to redevelop the former Dowling aviation facility a “priority project, the LIREDC stated that N.Y. State’s investment in the project will “support the conversion of part of the former Dowling College into a new National Aviation Training Center that will partner with schools across the metropolitan region who need the aviation simulation equipment to train students for careers as pilots, aviation mechanics and other related fields,” according to the LIREDC document. “The new NAT center will fit well with our proud aviation heritage and create a pipeline of well-trained aviation workers.”

Are we listening, Nurse Jens-Smith? If the State of New York and Brookhaven Town feel that Triple Five can produce a regionally significant economic development project just a few miles to the west of the EPCAL property, how does the Riverhead Town Board make a contrary decision?

Now that the town supervisor had become familiar with the Town’s dire financial straits and has learned (the hard way) that solar projects are governed by the state and that the town has little to zero input into the way the projects are governed — and worse, that the are tax-exempt — maybe it’s time to give the Triple Five project a fresh and honest look. Regardless of whether Councilwoman Giglio recuses or not, we still have four town board members who will make or break the town’s budget with this important decision.

The Town of Riverhead has held this property for over 20 years now. Each year that the property remains in the town’s hands we lose not only the potential for development and jobs, we lose tax revenue — which is about $4 million annually, as well as any interest earned on the $40 million sale price. That is $800,000 annually if it earns a meager 2-percent interest rate. Imagine what we could do with those funds? Really think about that for a moment. Think about what this could mean for our children! Jobs being created for them, lower taxes. Maybe even the ball fields at EPCAL could finally be completed. The possibilities are endless.

Forty million dollars is nothing to sneeze at. If it takes five years to find another buyer, we would have to sell the land for $64,000,000 -this doesn’t account for the five years of zero job growth or any spin-off economic benefit. Clearly other reputable government entities like the state and our neighboring Town of Brookhaven feel Triple Five can do the job. I certainly hope if this board decides that Triple Five is a “no,” that they have a VERY solid Plan B. The public should be asking about that. If not, my question would be – is our supervisor qualified and eligible?

Remember the old adage: A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush.

I sincerely hope you all think long and hard on this one.

Joann Waski is a downtown Riverhead business and property owner and a resident of Jamesport. She is a member and vice chairperson of the Riverhead Republican Committee.

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