Calverton_Executive_Airpark

Calverton Executive Airpark

Calverton Executive Airpark is a public-owned private-use airport located three miles (5 km) west of the central business district of Calverton, in Suffolk County, New York, United States. It is owned by the Town of Riverhead.

It was formerly the Naval Weapons Industrial Reserve Plant which was owned by the United States Navy and used to assemble, test, refit and retrofit jets built by the Grumman Corporation on Long Island.

The airport covers an area of which contains two asphalt and concrete runways: 14/32 measuring 10,000 x 200 feet (3,048 x 61 m) and 5/23 measuring 7,000 x 200 feet (2,133 x 61 m). Older aerial photos show both runways marked with X's which indicate they are closed, but more recent photos show runway 14/32 with the X's removed and that runway is operational according to the town's airport rules and regulations.

The airport is lightly used with most planes using the nearby Francis S. Gabreski Airport. Its most visible commercial air tenant is Sky Dive Long Island which since 2000 has been using the airport for its skydiving operations.

History

In 1956 the United States Navy purchased about on the Peconic River by New York Route 25 for the facility. Among the properties purchased was a mansion belonging to the grandson of F.W. Woolworth.

The Navy was to build among other things a runway. It is labeled on topographic maps as Grumman Peconic River Airport with an FAA code of CTO.

The unit is most associated with test, assembly and retrofitting the F-14 Tomcat. The Panther, Cougar, Tiger, and Intruder were also tested at the facility.

The Grumman site consisted of "Plant Six," where final assembly of F-14s, A-6s, EA-6Bs, and E-2Cs, and "Plant Seven," Flight Test.

During the Space Race Grumman built a mock up of the lunar surface to test its proposed Lunar Roving Vehicle. Many of the lunar astronauts were said to have visited the plant then.

In 1965 New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller proposed converting the airport into the fourth New York City metropolitan airport joining Laguardia Airport, John F. Kennedy Airport and Newark Airport. The proposal was abandoned following opposition from both Grumman and local residents.

In 1974 when the two other National Cemeteries on Long Island (Cypress Hills National Cemetery and Long Island National Cemetery) were running out of space, the Navy was approached about donating its undeveloped land north of Route 25 for a cemetery. On December 7, 1977, a tract was donated to form Calverton National Cemetery. More land would be donated by the Navy in 2000 bringing the total to making it the largest national cemetery in the United States (and also the busiest).

In 1996 the wreckage of TWA Flight 800 which had crashed about south of the airport was reconstructed in a hangar.

Grumman had merged with Northrop in 1994 and the new firm eliminated almost all operations on Long Island and the final Grumman affiliation with Calverton was in 1996.

In September 1998, the bulk of the developed land, , at the airport was donated to Riverhead. Another was donated to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation for wildlife management.

In the 1998 transactions East End Aircraft Long Island Corporation was given 10 acres on Highway 25 which it is developing into the Grumman Memorial Park and Aerospace Museum.

As of January 2006, the Navy still owns 358 acres (mostly areas requiring environment clean up) at the site.

Future

The airport's aviation days are numbered.

Through 2007, debates raged whether to turn the space into a mega complex around a NASCAR track called EPCAL Centre or a giant ski resort based construction of an artificial high indoor ski mountain.

In January 2008 the Riverhead Town Board with newly elected officers signed a deal to sell the airport for $155 million to Riverhead Resorts to build the ski mountain and tear up the airport runway and replace it with a lake overruling a December vote to give the NASCAR track the go ahead.

It will take up to three years to get the necessary environmental permits and the proposed opening date of the project is 2012.

A portion of the facility, including the industrial core, is also being developed as an industrial/office park.

Ecology and Endangered Species

The EPCAL site contains the largest remaining grassland on Long Island. The site provides documented breeding and/or foraging habitat for numerous grassland birds, including at least one New York State Endangered Species (i.e., short-eared owl), at least one New York State Threatened Species (i.e., Northern harrier) and five New York State Species of Special Concern (i.e., common nighthawk, grasshopper sparrow, vesper sparrow, horned lark, and whip-poor-will). In fact, these grasslands are the most productive breeding grounds for grasshopper sparrow (a NYS Species of Special Concern) in all of New York State. The EPCAL site contains 10 kettle hole ponds which are documented breeding sites for the Eastern tiger salamander, a New York State Endangered Species. The site also contains five additional reptile and amphibian species which are identified as Species of Special Concern in New York State (i.e., marbled salamander, Eastern spadefoot, spotted turtle, Eastern box turtle, and Eastern hognose snake). A total of 24 amphibian and reptile species have been identified on or near the EPCAL property.

As discussions over whether the airport could be developed the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced in February 2008 that endangered Short-eared Owls and Northern Harriers had been spotted at the airport which would prompt the DEC to make the ultimate decision the environmental impact of the development.

References

External links

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