Riverhead residents pack into town meeting to discuss plan to expand Riverhead Charter School

A town hall meeting was held Wednesday evening to discuss the plan.

News 12 Staff

Feb 21, 2024, 10:54 PM

Updated 60 days ago

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Dozens of people crowded into Riverhead Town Hall Wednesday night to give Town leaders an earful about a proposed expansion for the Riverhead Charter School.
There was no item on the agenda about the expansion, but so many residents showed up to speak during the public comment portion of the regularly scheduled Town Board meeting, that board members voted to move other items on the agenda around and let people speak.
"I think that there are elements of race that are not being spoken about." said Dr. Raymond Ankrum, superintendent of the Riverhead Charter School.
Ankrum, who spoke with news 12 before going into what was at times a heated Town Hall meeting, said he doesn't believe that opposition to the school's plan to expand is just over traffic and preserving open space.
"When you have rich, well to do white people that are telling historically marginalized students and their parents that you can't build a school somewhere I think that that's problematic and we're not talking about the real issues."
As news 12 has reported, there has been strong opposition from some who live near where the charter school wants to expand.
The Riverhead Charter School is in contract to buy 71 acres of farmland on Sound Avenue in Jamesport.
Some residents tell news 12 they do not want to see any more expansion.
"I'm not opposed to education, I'm not opposed to everything that these children want, they deserve it, I am opposed to the location." said one woman who spoke at the meeting.
Ankrum said they would only develop on about 12 acres.
"There's 59.2 acres that's zoned agricultural land that can't be touched, no matter who owns the land, no matter who buys the land, you can't touch it, the only thing you can do is commercially farm on that." said Ankrum.
The superintendent said the school could use the rest of the land for a farm to table type program that helps feed Long Islanders.
But that proposal got some push back from one woman at the meeting who said, "Thank you for the offer, but my neighborhood farmers and the businesses do just great."
No decision was made at the meeting.
As we've reported, in order for the expansion to move forward, a special permit will have to be granted by the Town.


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