Riverhead delays final approval of Scrambul Runway Challenge drag racing event


Approval of a track use agreement with the sponsor of a two-day drag racing event on the tracks at Calverton Enterprise Park next month was filed by City Council yesterday after public comment and a board discussion which lasted nearly two hours.

At its last meeting on May 4, the board of directors unanimously approved a special event permit for the proposed event from June 19-20, presented as the Scrambul Runway Challenge. One of the conditions of the permit approved on May 4 was the negotiation and approval of the runway use agreement on the council’s agenda yesterday.

The agreement requires that the event organizer obtain all necessary approvals required by the FAA for the use of the active track at the site, as well as coordinate with the police chief and the fire chief to meet safety requirements and comply with all applicable regulations.

Council members said yesterday they had yet to see a report prepared by Fire Marshal Craig Zitek, which city attorney Robert Kozakiewicz said was submitted to the plaintiff this week.

“And he has raised areas of concern that he wants to see addressed before the event can take off,” Kozakiewicz said.

City Councilor Tim Hubbard asked to see Zitek’s report before being asked to vote on the deal.

The organizer is required by agreement to coordinate with the Manorville Fire Department and Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps to provide coverage for the two-day event, in the event of an emergency.

Scrambul owner Andre Baxter said in an interview today that he has his bases covered. He said he had had discussions with the FAA and agency approval was not required because the runway, while active, is a private runway. It remains available for emergency use by an aircraft in distress, but Baxter has said the FAA will alert air traffic controllers that the Calverton runway will not be available from June 17 to 20, which includes the duration of the event. and two days of preparation.

Baxter said he had made formal requests to the Manorville Fire Department and RVAC and was awaiting a response from both agencies.

Manorville Fire Department Chief Joe Danowski said the service would be able to help with emergency fire protection, but may need backup from a nearby department, so provide two-day coverage in June does not strain the department’s available staff resources. The request is still under consideration, Danowski said.

RVAC deputy chief James Alfano said the ambulance corps was on board to cover the event.

A spokesperson for the FAA said it would look into the question of the role of the FAA and could not immediately respond to a reporter’s request.

Baxter said he reviewed his road safety plan today with a lieutenant from the Riverhead Police Department and believed he addressed the department’s concerns and questions.

Traffic will be directed to enter the site from Grumman Boulevard, Baxter said, and not from Route 25.

He said attendance at the event will be limited to 1,000 people over two days. There are 400 registered pilots and no more than 600 spectator tickets were sold over the two-day period. Tickets are sold out, according to the event’s website, and no tickets will be available during the event.

Council members’ questions and their decision to table the resolution followed comments from many members of the public, including residents who live near the corporate park, asking these and other questions or advocating for the rejection of the l ‘OK.

Residents raised concerns regarding the noise impacts of drag racing, the safety of participants and spectators, as well as traffic inside and outside the site on the days of the event. They also expressed concerns about the extent of scrutiny given to environmental issues, such as impacts on habitat and endangered species.

“This is the worst time of year to do this in the middle of bird nesting season,” said John Turner, conservation policy advocate with the Seatuck Environmental Association. He said the environmental assessment form was “flawed” and questioned whether the city had properly classified the proposal under the state’s Environmental Quality Review Act.

Angela DeVito, South Jamesport resident, member of the EPCAL Watch Coalition, asked a long list of logistics questions, covering everything from the safety of spectators who will bring their own chairs and sit along the leak, the nature of the chemicals that will be used to extinguish the fires if an accident requires the intervention of firefighters. She also asked if the insurance required by the city is adequate for a drag racing event.

City Councilor Catherine Kent asked the city attorney this question.

“The nature of this event is different,” said Kent. “The assurance that we have for that, that we require for this event, compares to another 255 (special event) that we might have,” she asked.

“It’s the same insurance,” Kozakiewicz said, meaning that the insurance Scrambul will need to provide to the city is the same policy that is required for any other candidate for a special event.

“Is that what we require him to buy for a fair as opposed to that?” It looks like an event like this would require more insurance, ”Kent said.

“No one has raised this before,” Kozakiewicz replied. He said Baxter provided the certificate of insurance earlier this week. “I can certainly come back to them and tell them that we are looking for more assurance.”

The track use agreement requires Scrambul to provide general liability insurance in the amount of a minimum of $ 2 million, with a single combined limit for bodily injury and property damage for each event, which is the same insurance coverage as indicated in the Special Event Permit Application for All. types of events.

The council began discussing the tabling of the resolution to approve the agreement. City Councilor Frank Beyrodt asked if it could be approved subject to contingencies.

“Not for nothing,” said Hubbard, “but we shouldn’t approve any event if all safety plans aren’t approved. And if the Fire Marshal hasn’t signed off and the police chief hasn’t not signed, I don’t even know what we were thinking. ”

“In the past, we have approved (special events) subject to the approval of the Fire Marshal, subject to police department approval, subject to other pending requests and contracts,” Kozakiewicz said. . “It’s a change of course and I understand it’s a little different application,” he said. He noted that the application was filed in February and had been “in the queue” for three months.

“If you say it’s been a long time, guys, why why now? Well, if it’s been around for a long time, why isn’t it finished? Hubbard asked the city attorney.

“I have nothing more to say,” Kozakiewicz replied.

City Councilor Ken Rothwell expressed concern about the impact of the delay on the event organizer.

“If he actually sold tickets and did different things. In order to help anyone who has a business transaction here in Riverhead, I don’t want to harm anyone, ”said Rothwell. “So I’m totally okay with taking the time to review and things like that. But I just hope everyone here is open if we need a special city council meeting, and we need to make sure that we stay within its boundaries and in our commitment to them. I hope everyone takes this into account, ”said Rothwell. “So if we have to come together to vote for something that by filing it, it doesn’t hurt the event holder,” he said.

Kent said there were “still things to be worked out” but “I don’t think we are trying to put the brakes on everything”.

Support local journalism.
More than ever, the survival of quality local journalism depends on your support. Our community is facing unprecedented economic disruption and the future of many small businesses is threatened, including our own. It takes time and resources to provide this service. We are a small family business and we will do everything in our power to keep it going. But today more than ever, we will depend on your support to keep going. Support RiverheadLOCAL today. You depend on us to stay informed and we depend on you to make our work possible.


Leave A Reply