The Suffolk County Legislature unanimously approved a $200,000 appropriation Monday for the expansion of the EPCAL Bicycle and Recreational Path at the former Grumman site in Calverton.
North Fork County Legislator Al Krupski sponsored the legislation, which will enable Riverhead Town to expand the existing three-mile non-motorized recreational trail to more than eight miles.
“Getting people off dangerous roadways is critical and the EPCAL Path offers a safe, off-road
alternative for bicyclists, runners and walkers,” said Mr. Krupski. “This is a smart investment for Suffolk County because the path will be open to all of its residents and will attract visitors to the East End.”
Riverhead Alternative Transportation Committee member George Bartunek and Wading River resident Don Hawkins, who originally proposed the path to the town in 2006, outlined their plan to expand the bike path at a Riverhead Town Board work session in July, during which they were roundly rebuked by Town Supervisor Sean Walter, who said there was no money for the project and it would interfere with his plan to subdivide the EPCAL site.
The first phase, said Mr. Bartunek and Mr. Hawkins, would extend the existing path by 3.4 to 5 miles, continuing along the perimeter of the property southward toward River Road and Grumman Boulevard, and then heading back north along the now-dirt Line Road, which runs north from Grumman Boulevard between a soccer field and the Isaac Dog Park, back to the start of the bike path.
Line Road bisects Lot 36 of the subdivision, which Mr. Walter said is worth about $2 million, and he said he doesn’t want bicyclists using that road once the subdivision is complete and the lots are on the market.
The second phase, they said, would extend the path by 2.4 miles into the core of the Pine Barrens.
Mr. Bartunek said in a statement from Mr. Krupski’s office Thursday that “the county funding will allow
improvements to existing roadways, which will create a loop path that can be used all year round
for a number of activities such as cross country skiing in the winter months.”
Currently, the asphalt path trails off into a dirt trail on the eastern perimeter of the property, and bicyclists must turn around and return to their starting location near the dog park.
Work on the path is expected to begin in 2015.