New York State has granted $500,000 in funding for a bicycle and recreation path at EPCAL, the former Grumman plant in Calverton.
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the award, which is a grant from the state Environmental Protection Fund, late last week.
The path, named the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Trail, has been in the works since 2008, and has already been the recipient of a $100,000 grant funding from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, $150,000 in state funding allocated through the efforts of State Senator Ken LaValle and $200,000 in Suffolk County funding at the request of Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski.
A 3.2-mile section of asphalt-paved bike path leads from the ball fields across Route 25 from the Calverton National Cemetery, along the perimeter of the EPCAL property. The extension of the path would more than double its length, built over an abandoned gravel driveway that was cleared as a security road by the Grumman Corporation in the 1950s.
“This is a major achievement that will pay great dividends for runners in the Town of Riverhead
and all over eastern Long Island,” said Mike Polansky, Greater Long Island Running Club
Councilwoman Jodi Giglio, who heads Riverhead’s Alternative Transportation committee, said the committee has been tirelessly working for six years on securing funding from state and county government, as well as applying for permits from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
“Biking, walking and running are no cost, family friendly activities,” she said. “The trail will significantly benefit Riverhead families by providing a safe outlet to participate in healthy activities, while increasing users’ appreciation of the natural environment in the scenic Pine Barrens and provide a sense of place.”
“It will clearly reduce speeds on roadways for pedestrian and bicyclist crossing safety, provide safer dedicated off-road connections for existing bicyclist and pedestrian networks, as well as encourage increased bicycling and pedestrian activity and remove cars from the road,” said Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter, in rare agreement with Ms. Giglio.
The supervisor and Ms. Giglio have frequently butted heads over the project, which was underway in the midst of a subdivision of the property to prepare lots for sale there. The U.S. Navy gave the 2,900-acre property to Riverhead Town’s Industrial Development Agency in 1998.
“A safe, off the road recreation trail is a great goal at a wonderful site and it will not only benefit residents of Riverhead, but residents of the entire county as well, said Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski, who helped get a $200,000 grant from Suffolk County for the project. “I was pleased to have successfully worked with the County Executive and Riverhead Town to help accomplish this important project.”