Reviews | City officials must be held accountable
The explosion and ensuing fire that consumed five cars stored on a track at EPCAL on Wednesday night demonstrates exactly what worried residents when we opposed the city’s plan to allow storage hundreds, if not thousands, of vehicles damaged by the storm. EPCAL website.
No one was hurt, and that’s a real blessing. The situation could have been very different if even the slightest factor (like a simple breeze) had come into play.
Unfortunately, firefighters had to use foam to extinguish the blaze, and the foam and unvacuated fluid remnants of the vehicles spilled from the track onto the grass, endangering our groundwater supply.
When City Council moved this resolution for adoption at the CDA meeting on September 8, a number of community members in Riverhead Town asked questions and spoke in opposition.
I followed up with an email also in the opposition on September 9th. I clearly defined all the reasons why such storage was a danger to the community and the surrounding environment. As a drinking water advocate for my community, my main concern was the pollutants that could escape from damaged vehicles and further contaminate groundwater. It’s no secret that this area is already heavily contaminated by the former owner of the site by the Navy. In my email, I raised the concern about the dangers of a potential fire among the cars in storage. Depending on how the fire was extinguished, not only could the remnants of a fire impact drinking water, but any large fires could easily spread, putting first responders at serious risk and endangering them. the welfare of local residents if the fire could not be contained and became a “forest fire”. I did not receive any response from the town hall. Not a single word.
On September 22, a number of residents attended the city’s water forum. During this meeting, concerns about the storage of cars were again raised by many residents. One of the residents of Manorville, a firefighter who devoted 49 years to the service, explained how difficult it would be to fight a fire in such a large area without access to a public water supply adjacent to the trail.
After the meeting, it was reported by the city’s environmental consultant that the insurance company running the operation had fire extinguishers on hand. Does city council really think the community is stupid enough to expect some portable fire extinguishers to be able to put out fires that spread among vehicles? The environmental consultant also said any minor leaks will evaporate in the sun. Do they think the locals believe that the sun magically shines under the cars parked at the EPCAL?
The city council knew for sure that this storage site was of concern to the community. The residents knew full well what could happen in the event of a fire, and instead of listening to the voices of the community, the five city council members unanimously and actively chose to continue making money at the site instead. than to protect the safety of the residents. We sincerely hoped that we would not have a fire, but those hopes vanished on Wednesday night.
The communities of Manorville and Calverton have suffered their share of the negative consequences associated with this site for decades and frankly we can’t take much more. What we are experiencing today is the result of elected officials who value money more than the people they are committed to protecting and representing. This is the essence of making decisions without consideration for the community or the environmental impact.
All city council members who voted yes on this resolution must be held accountable now. Members of city council have difficulty hearing and responding to the concerns of their constituents.
I tell you, Supervisor Aguiar, Councilor Kent, Councilor Hubbard, Councilor Beyrodt and Councilor Rothwell: Your residents must accept no excuses. Don’t say the contract has been in place for years or that you did not participate in the original contract. Each of you, in fact, was elected with the promise that you would do better for your constituents than your predecessors. We are tired of empty talk. Show the police, firefighters and residents that you put us ahead of the money you collect. Cancel this contract now. Your time to do this right begins immediately. If the silly season is your goal right now, think about this: get rid of those cars, before the residents get rid of you.
Kelly mcclinchy is a member of the Calverton Naval Weapons Industrial Reserve Facility Restoration Advisory Board. She lives in Manorville.
Editor’s Note: RiverheadLOCAL welcomes guest columns for anyone wishing to submit a point of view on any topic. The opinions expressed in the guest columns are those of the author and do not reflect the views of the editors of RiverheadLOCAL. Be sure to include your email address and daytime phone number with your submission. Click here to submit your opinion.
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 now 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.