About a year after originally floating the idea, Supervisor Sean Walter said on Tuesday that he is taking a trip up to Albany next week to lobby his vision of an inter-governmental body to provide a fast track for development projects at Enterprise Park at Calverton.
The idea came up following a January 2011 trip to a Massachusetts property similar to EPCAL - Devens - that has enticed 75 businesses to the area within 15 years after a state agency, MassDevelopment, started overseeing development.
According to a statement issued Tuesday, Walter hopes to lobby Albany to push for a "clearinghouse or authority to better coordinate the permitting process at EPCAL and to streamline the approvals needed to develop clean businesses at the former Grumman property."
Walter said he foresees a body similar to the Pine Barrens Commission - created in the early 1990s - which consists of local, county, and state members. The authority, operating under an "umbrella" environmental permit, would be able to fast-track compliant permits rather than having each project apply for separate environmental permits.
“If EPCAL is to attract the innovators and entrepreneurs of the coming decades, we need the broad scope of Albany to bring all layers of government together for public good," said Walter.
Assemblyman Dan Losquadro, R-Shoreham, said that Gov. Andrew Cuomo, "has been receptive as far as business goes. His motto, so to speak, has been "Open for Business in New York. This could be a perfect example of how we can make New York more business friendly."
The second-term supervisor said himself Tuesday that he's not an experienced lobbyist, and that in order to really get the word out, he has considered hiring someone on the town's behalf to lobby the idea. Walter said that as a result of a settlement reached with Cablevision, the town has approximately $125,000 it can use on a public affairs or public relations-related position.
In his statement released on Tuesday, Councilman George Gabrielsen - favoring the "one-stop shopping" the authority would provide applicants - expressed support for Walter's trip, though not all the town board were aware of Walter's plans.
"I didn't know he was making a trip," said Councilwoman Jodi Giglio. "I think our representatives in state Sen. LaValle and Assemblyman Losquadro do an excellent job of representing us. But if it's in the best interest of the town to go, that's his decision to make."
Councilman Jim Wooten was unaware of the supervisor's plans as well. While he said he supports the idea of the regional authority, "It may be premature until the land-use study is done. I think it's a good idea. I just don't know how much of the onus is on the town."
Walter said that Deputy Town Attorney Ann-Marie Prudenti and Deputy Supervisor Jill Lewis would be making the trip with him. He said he hopes to have a final draft of the legislation completed by then, and plans on meeting with state Senators and members of the Assembly with whom he's familiar, along with a representative of the governor's office.