Come to the Tuesday Dec.19 2017

Town Board meeting at 7PM!

To All Members and Friends of the Riverhead Neighborhood Preservation Coalition,

Your presence is needed at the Town Board Meeting of Dec 19th!  Our Town's future must stop being decided behind closed doors, by a lame duck administration.  The Coalition Against EPCAL Housing, (theCAEH) of which the RNPC is a member, has called upon the outgoing Town Board and Supervisor to take no further action on sale of EPCAL land to Luminati in association with either of the companies of John Catsimatidis, or the latest partner, the Ghermezian brothers. 
 The outgoing Board should neither agree to terms of sale nor schedule a  "qualified and eligible sponsor" hearing.

Because the public has been kept in the dark about the substance of the sale, including the actual land involved, the complete and definitive "agreement in principle" and proposed sales contract must be made available to the public and press at least two weeks before terms of sale are discussed by the Board and a Q&E hearing is scheduled.
We urge RNPC members and concerned citizens to be present at the final meeting of this board at 7 p.m. on December 19th to insure that no action is taken by a lame duck Administration that constrains the freedom of the new Board and Supervisor to carry out the strongly expressed opinion of voters.
Outgoing Supervisor Sean Walter was in part defeated by Laura Jens-Smith because of the issue of EPCAL.  We find it presumptuous that he is seeking to limit the options of his successor by announcing the date of the Q & E hearing and are concerned by the implication that he may seek approval of the terms of sale on December 19th.
In addition we insist that no terms of sale should be finalized unless construction of housing at EPCAL is unambiguously prohibited for the proposed and successive owners.  Both the town Board and the Luminati/Catsimatidis/Ghermezian purchasers should be on the record that housing ought to be removed from the EPCAL zoning code at the earliest feasible date.

Thank You,
Phil Barbato
Riverhead Neighborhood Preservation Coalition


Update:  8/15/20017

The resolution for a public hearing for revising  EPCAL zoning permitting housing was NOT submitted to the Town Board at the 7pm meeting on August 15, 2017. It was determined by legal counsel that the resolution would not be suitable at that  time.

Residents that attending the Town Board meeting tonight, demanded an explanation for the denial of a public hearing on the issue of housing at EPCAL because the cost of this housing development will be reflected in their taxes. EPCAL was promised to be an economic generator for the Town, bringing well-paying jobs and contributing to the tax base, and NOT a site of permanent housing that will be a tax-negative.

The zoning that was approved in 2016 for the EPCAL area was vague and open-ended. Permitting housing on the EPCAL site will
require extensive infrastructure including roads, sewage, water supply, electricity, storm water control, police and rescue  to support development that has not been clearly defined. The cost of providing this infrastructure will require significant expenditures by the Town and will ultimately be paid by increasing taxes on residents.  In addition, housing places great demands on the School District burdens our crowded school system and increases school taxes.

Remember, Riverhead taxpayers were promised there would never be any housing at EPCAL.

Let's keep that promise.


At the August 15, 2017 Town Board meeting a resolution was planned to be introduced to conduct a public hearing in the near future to consider removing the current Town Code section that allows for residential housing at EPCAL.  

The RNPC has been working with The Coalition Against EPCAL Housing (theCAEH), along with several other civic associations, to remove housing from the uses allowed in the current zoning at EPCAL.  It was hoped that this will become a reality. 

The resolution was planned to be introduced one of 2 ways:

1. As a scheduled, reviewed resolution; it would appear as a part of the meeting agenda.

 2. Or the resolution would be introduced "off the floor" as an amendment to the meeting agenda.

The RNPC had strongly recommended residents to come to Town Hall on Tuesday, August 15,  2017 to start the process to change the zoning language to be adopted.

It is important that the 3 council members [Giglio, Dunleavy, and Hubbard] who support the coalition's position on housing, to see and hear support from the larger communities we represent. 


Citizens of Riverhead! 

The future of our Town is being decided behind

closed doors and we need to get answers
before it's too late.  


Sean Walter has been deliberating behind closed doors for weeks now on the intended deal to sell all of the remaining EPCAL acreage for a reported $40 million. While this sounds like a lot of money for the Town, there are several important questions to which he has not provided answers - not even to the Town Council. 

Hey Sean!  What's the big secret?  The taxpayers of Riverhead were promised that EPCAL would be an economic generator. But, there has been no information forthcoming on how this will occur. On its surface selling all that land for an average of about $16,000 per acre doesn't sound like a great deal. 

The public needs answers to some basic questions NOW.

What land is being sold and who is it being sold to? 

We need to see a map with the boundaries of the property to be sold, the controlling zoning district(s), and a list of the buyers.  There seems to be a mysterious "other buyer" besides Luminati.

Why isn't housing prohibited indefinitely for this potential owner/owners, and all future owners? 

We all know that housing is a net loss to any town's budget and a drain on the taxpayers.

Why does the deal include so much supposedly "undevelopable" land, possibly 1400 acres? 

Can these become developeable in the future?  Will there be a legal guarantee that no development what-so-ever occurs on these lands in the future?  Why hasn't the Town considered retaining ownership of those acres and creating a nature preserve and/or park.  Was the scenic and rare natural value of those acres, to current and future citizens of the Town, given serious consideration and why is the Town placing so low a value on those acres?

What existing covenants and restrictions on the land will become part of the contract? 

What is the value of any saleable Pine Barrens Credits being conveyed to the new owner?

What is the continuing role of the NYSDEC in relation to this contract of sale and the future use of the land? 

How will the NYSDEC continue to review future plans for the entire site and control endangered species protection areas?  

What is the status of the long-term lease between the Town and the car storage company (AIA)? 

Will that lease, estimated at $50,000 per year, transfer to the new owner(s)?  Will storage of similar wreckage be permitted in the future?

What are the real, net, tax consequences of this sale? 

That is, what tax exemptions will be given to the new owners(s), what taxes will be paid, and how will this impact the Town and School budgets and the tax bills of the other residents of the Town?

Is CAT qualified and


We believe CAT is


Join us in asking that all

Board members to vote


You have a right to know the answers to these questions. 

The draft contract has already been sent out to the buyers. The time for us to TAKE ACTION is NOW.  Make your voices heard.

  • Go to, learn more about these issues, and sign the petition against housing at EPCAL.
  • Go to the next page EPCAL on this website for additional information and other local EPCAL websites.
  • Write a letter, email, or call all of the Town Board members and voice your concerns about this bad deal.
  • Go to Town Hall for a Board meeting, stand up and voice your concerns.

Photos courtesy of Design Plus

Join us at the News Conference Tuesday,

May 8th, 11am at Riverhead Town Hall.

The Coalition Against EPCAL Housing will speak about the many reasons to say NO to the sale of 1600 acres of the EPCAL property to Calverton Aviation and Technology (CAT). Please attend and make your presence known to the Town Board members.

Here is some background on this bad deal for our Town.

On Wednesday evening, May 16th, the Town Board is likely to make a decision with significant impact in Riverhead for decades.  A contentious months long process will conclude with a vote on whether the Ghermezian family is deemed qualified and eligible to purchase all 1,600 acres of land at EPCAL.
If advocates are correct, the town will benefit from a major economic development project, touted as the return of aerospace jobs to the old Grumman facility.
If critics are correct, the town will be embarking on a very uncertain path which could result in quick resale to other interests, holding most of the land for future potential with little development, pressure to provide tax and bonding benefits to a privately held company, or some as yet unknown mega-project that exerts political and economic pressure to access land currently listed as undevelopable.
The Coalition Against EPCAL Housing was formed by civic associations concerned that unnoticed changes in zoning would allow construction of housing at large cost to taxpayers, burden to schools and little long term economic benefit.  Because of our efforts, the current version of the sales contract appears to bar the construction of housing.  However, unless zoning is changed, we fear that inhibition could be too easily overcome by the power and money of the new and successive owners.
As a group we have found ourselves increasingly involved with debate over the future of EPCAL.  At first it was just the flim flam associated with Daniel Preston and Luminati.  When Preston was totally discredited, we encountered a larger scale far more professional flim flam from the Ghermezian family and Triple Five Ventures.  While completely marginalizing Preston, they maintained the façade of a partnership in order to take advantage of his suspiciously low land cost, including the late in the day addition of 1,000 ostensibly undevelopable acres.
The Ghermezians totally rejected the options of submitting their own proposal in transparent competition with other offers and of removing the 1,000 undevelopable acres.
The Town Board should take warning from the arrogant and condescending attitude and behavior of the Ghermezians at a stage when they ought to be at their most civil and responsible to the community they seek to join.  It is reminiscent of a pattern that was reported in the Las Vegas Sun newspaper:  “All of those who have dealt with the family describe them as deeply private, but also intensely combative. They also are described by journalists and politicians who have dealt with the family as hard-as-nails political and legal operators.”
In only four months, the Ghermezians have:
1)  Successfully maneuvered a barely in office Supervisor and Board to violate the spirit of the law by meeting privately in January in a snow bound town hall two by two and one by one.
2)  Threatened to withdraw if they lose the privileged Preston deal.
3)  Offered a bribe of $2.5 million for a Town park if the Board gives unanimous support.
4)  Compromised the integrity of a Board member by inviting her to a four hour private meeting in the middle of the hearing process.
5)  Divided the Board over whether the appearance of her impropriety required recusal.
6)   Refused to restore the 1,000 undevelopable acres to the town, also at pain of withdrawal.

Prospective commercial clients and associates of the Ghermezians need to think hard on a record of pushing out their original partner at the Mall of America and complaints of manipulation and exploitation by tenants, reported in the Las Vegas Review Journal
Then there is the whiff of political corruption.  The Las Vegas Sun reported, “The family is often lavish with political contributions, in the United States and in Canada, to local officials who control land-use decisions, reporters familiar with the Ghermezians' business practice agree.”
Both papers refer to convictions and legal penalties, a context that makes especially problematic the secretive meeting the Ghermezians engineered with Board member Jodi Giglio.  There are also reports that money from the Ghermezians is showing up in Republican fund raising events.  We won’t know for sure until town and county records are published in July, unless the Town Board requires the Ghermezians to report all political contributions made between November 1 and the Q & E vote.
What is clear is that the Riverhead Republican Party has married itself to making some version of this deal at EPCAL.  The original contract with Daniel Preston was pushed for approval by then Supervisor Sean Walter at the last meeting of the 100% Republican Board.  The past and present heads of the Party have been active advocates of the Ghermezian deal in Op Eds and on-line comments to articles in the News Review and Riverhead Local.  While Board members Giglio and Hubbard refused to go along with Walter in December, both seemed to embrace the Ghermezians when they voted for a cutoff after three days of public comment.  Has support for the EPCAL deal become a matter of Party discipline?
The Republican argument is phrased in terms of trusting the intentions and capacity of the Ghermezians, revenue, taxes and jobs.  They ignore completely the interest from other buyers that was hidden by Walter or has recently emerged.  We know that S-power will pay at least as much to put in solar panels.  Another company is suggesting it will pay $16 to $20 million for just one runway to again store cars on it.  Neither of those projects offer much in employment potential but others are in the wings.
If the Ghermezians actually deliver without seeking more financial benefits from taxpayers, the Republicans will claim credit.  If they don’t and have mislead the Town about financing, EPCAL will be an albatross on the Party for years.  The loss of the undevelopable land will haunt future generations.


Dear RNPC Members and Friends,   

The past months have been filled with news of the possible sale of EPCAL after 20+ years of starts and stops.  I know you are all aware of the news and possibly a bit weary at all the back and forth efforts to establish a full and complete record of information.

Our Town is now participating in a "Qualified and Eligible" public hearing process. The purpose is simple: answer the question of whether or not Calverton Aviation and Technology (CAT) is fit to buy and develop our precious asset. A simple question, but one that has yet to be answered:

A. a constantly shifting corporate umbrella has emerged and has little to do with the original purchaser--It is difficult to understand just who will be buying the land and who will be developing the land.

B. the proposal has no details what-so-ever for site development, other than promises that if we sell, they will come.

C. the purchasing company has committed to using every and all sources of public funding to develop the site, i.e. your tax dollars will build EPCAL.

There isn't a lot of time left until the Town Board must make a decision-- Is CAT qualified and eligible? We believe CAT is NOT and ask you to join us in asking that all Board members find a negative declaration of qualified and eligible and vote NO.

There has been no other time in our Town's history when your voices were needed more and when they should be raised up to the ears of our Town Board.

So we ask you to take 2 actions:

1. Contact the Town Board members and ask them to vote NO.
You can contact them by phone or email as follows:

Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith

(631) 727-3200 Ext. 251, email:

Councilman Tim Hubbard

(631) 727-3200 Ext. 223, email:

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio

(631) 727-3200 Ext. 225, email:

Councilman James Wooten

(631) 727-3200 Ext. 226, email:

Councilwoman Catherine Kent

(631) 727-3200 Ext. 224, email:

2. Speak out and be counted among those who love this Town. If you are concerned about this poor and far-reaching sale of our last remaining large piece of open land, you must be aware that you must make your voice heard.

In addition to calls and email, you must attend the Town Board meeting of April 17th at 7pm. Your presence alone will demonstrate to our elected officials that we are extremely concerned about this bad deal. The citizens votes can be visually counted and that is more important than anything we can do. And if you feel comfortable speaking during the public comment period (at the end of the meeting), so much the better. We hope to see you there! Change can only happen if you are a participant.

Thank you for your continued support and interest in our Town. Together we are stronger.


Phil Barbato
Riverhead Neighborhood Preservation Coalition


Please read the 2017 RNPC and CAEH initiatives regarding the sale of EPCAL property:

Still undecided about  the sale of the EPCAL land?

Read the story reported in the Las Vegas Sun newspaper:



Then, read the story reported in the

Las Vegas Review

(Copy and paste the above links in your web browser)

Join us at the 7pm

Town Board meeting

on Tuesday, April 17th.

The time for us



EPCAL Vote   |   EPCAL Action   |   EPCAL   |   EPCAL History

Read the Local Media Coverage on The Coalition Against EPCAL Housing Press Conference at Town Hall:

(Copy and paste the above links in your web browser)

The future of our

Town is being

decided behind

closed doors and

we need to get

answers before it's

too late.

The time for us to