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Riverhead IDA approves financial assistance for Island Water Park

Riverhead IDA approves financial assistance for Island Water Park

Island Water Park, a proposed “extreme water sports park” on a 46-acre site in Calverton adjacent to Riverhead’s Veterans Memorial Park, gained approval from the Riverhead Industrial Development Agency yesterday of its application for financial assistance, including a 10-year property tax abatement, and mortgage recording and sales tax exemptions.

The approval came following a supplemental public hearing on the application, held because the initial notice for a public hearing held Sept. 14 did not include the Wading River Fire Department, Riverhead IDA Executive Director Tracy Stark-James said.

The recreational facility, featuring a 20-acre manmade lake, will consist of an “indoor/outdoor extreme water sports park, including an indoor surf pool, rock-climbing walls, indoor and outdoor volleyball courts, a zip line, spectator seating, obstacle courses, bumper boats, water slides, fitness center, spa, a pro shop and restaurants,” according to the application for IDA assistance.

It will also include an inflatable aqua park that is “the largest in the world,” Island Water Park’s Ken Meyers told the IDA board during the hearing yesterday. It will be a major tourist attraction, Meyers said.

The park is expected to attract 900,000 visitors annually, according to an economic impact analysis prepared for the applicant. Meyers said yesterday he anticipates the park will attract “thousands upon thousands of guests per week, potentially a couple of thousand per day,” when it is fully operational.

Meyers said indoor facilities would open this winter and the outdoor attractions would begin to open in the spring, with the park expected to be fully operating next summer.

The total project cost is estimated by the applicant at $25 million.

Daniel Baker, an attorney with Certilman, Balin, Adler and Hyman, representing Island Water Park, said at yesterday’s hearing “quite a considerable amount of the work is done already but still a lot to go — to the tune of about $6 (million) to $8 million worth of work.”

Island Water Park’s application states it requires assistance from the IDA for the acquisition of the project site, construction of a 75,000-square-foot building and the purchase of equipment.

The company sought a 20-year real property tax abatement but the IDA cut that in half, granting a 10-year property tax abatement instead.

The IDA board voted 3-1 to approve the application, with Vice Chairperson Lori Ann Pipczynski voting no, after stating that she wished the company much success in their endeavors. Following meeting, Pipczynski said she voted no because she does not believe the project will result in the creation of a sufficient number of jobs that will pay employees a living wage. The applicant’s attorney said the project will create 250 mostly seasonal jobs. Pipczynski said only about 11 jobs are full-time jobs that will pay a living wage.

Island Water Park received preliminary site plan approval from the Riverhead Town Board on July 7. Final site plan approval remains pending.

Supervisor Yvette Aguiar has heralded the facility as a “mini Disneyland” that will bring jobs and tourist dollars to the Town of Riverhead.

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