Affordable housing planned for Riverside

03/17/2011 1:47 PM |

Two affordable houses are being planned for Riverside on properties that were acquired by Suffolk County through tax defaults and given to Southampton Town.

The properties, to be developed by the Southampton Housing Authority, contain structures that officials say are falling apart. One property is on the east side of Vail Avenue, near the intersection with Pine Street. The other is directly behind it and fronts on Old Quogue Road, although the town lists it as being on Vail Avenue, officials said.

Whether the homes will be owner-occupied or rented is one concern for two civic groups with conflicting views about affordable housing.

The 10-year-old Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association has consistently told town and other officials that it doesn’t want additional affordable rental units in it neighborhoods, and its members have frequently opposed any kind of affordable housing in the past. They say housing in the three hamlets is already the most affordable in town.

But the newly-formed Riverside Revitalization Committee has listed the creation of additional affordable housing as one of its goals and does not share FRNCA’s opposition to rentals. The RRC reportedly sent a letter to town officials saying they do not oppose affordable rentals on the two properties.

The two Riverside sites were given to Southampton Town on the condition that they be developed as affordable housing within a certain time frame — otherwise, the county may take them back. The town housing authority, which has a mission to provide affordable housing in Southampton, also has plans to build seven affordable houses in Flanders that will be owner-occupied, at the request of FRNCA.

The issue of whether the Vail Avenue houses should be rentals or owner-occupied was debated at a FRNCA meeting on Monday. FRNCA member Richard Naso criticized group president Brad Bender for not giving FRNCA’s input on the issue to the town. But Mr. Bender, who has announced his intention to run for the Town Board, said FRNCA shouldn’t interfere on an issue that’s in another organization’s area; input in this case should come from the RRC, he said.

“I don’t believe it is our place to step on their feet on something that they want in their specific neighborhood,” Mr. Bender said. He said he had told the Riverside group he would support its opinion on the issue.

“How come we don’t know about it?” Mr. Naso asked.

Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming said in an interview Tuesday that she had sought feedback from the RRC, but she stressed that a no decision had been made about what type of housing will be built on the sites. She said that further input from FRNCA was welcome.

Richard Blowes, executive director of the Southampton Housing Authority, also said in an interview that no decision had been made on the rental vs. ownership issue. But he said the Section 8 rental housing subsidy program should not be looked at as a bad thing, because many senior citizens would not be able to afford a place to live without it. He said one option being examined was a rental with an option to buy.

The Southampton Town Board recently authorized acquisition of the properties from the county and their transfer to the housing authority.

No one from the RCC was present at Monday’s FRNCA meeting and RRC organizer John Parker did not return calls seeking comment by presstime.

tgannon@timesreview.com

11 Comment

  • How much do the “affordable” houses cost? “Affordable” doesn’t have much meaning anymore since some “affordable housing” sells for market rate and above. What does this housing cost?

  • Drop the property tax extortion racket and a lot more homes would become “affordable” .

  • If the affordable housing is to be limited to seniors [62+ years old] and would prohibit habitation by school age children, then perhaps this is a good idea. But any housing that increases the school population for RCSD should be discussed with the District’s intergovernmental committee- the tax impact and expenses are considerable and should not be disregarded during the planning stages. It is a curious though- affordable housing only west of the canal???

  • The way things are going with out taxes, everything in Riverhead is going to have an “affordable” price tag and unaffordable taxes. Why do you think our home values are plummeting? We could cut the budget by a third by redrawing the school lines. Half the students from the Southampton part of the district are on some type of mandated assistence like school lunches.

  • While i doubt that the immediate budget situation would improve much, i agree with opening the issue of redrawing the school lines . This would alleviate overcrowding and could obviate the need for any expansion. This would take a great deal of time, and southampton would probably fight any effort, but i think it is an idea that has merit. Anyone on the school board reading this?

  • You are seeking a “de-consolidation or de-centralization” of the Riverhead School District, which straddles 3 Towns- Brookhaven [450 or so students] ,Riverhead, and Southampton [1100 or so students]. This has been talked about, but the sense is that with the State focus on crunching school districts, the case for RCSD would never fly. This does not mean that it should be pursued. The return of Brookhaven and Southampton Town students to their area districts like, SWR, Hampton Bays, and Westhampton is not only reasonable but very cost effective for Riverhead. The reduction in the current school census by some 1200-1400 students, would mitigate entirely the need for school campus expansion and then just leave the work to renovation of existing structures- a far more affordable solution for all taxpayers. Children from Red Creek would no longer have to travel 50 minutes on a bus one-way just to get to school- a mere ten minutes into Hampton Bays and they are there! Your suggestions has much merit and should be pursued. What makes more sense for Riverhead is to establish a North Fork regional school district, eliminating the administrative and operational waste in Oyster Ponds, Greenport, Southold, New Suffolk, and Mattituck-Cutchogue. All existing districts could maintain their autonomy through building principals, but economies in all other areas could be achieved- sports, transportation, BOCES services, purchasing, contract negotiations and agreements, etc.

  • My sense if that rvhd school officials would also not support deconsolidation, if the school district population would shrink, because jobs are involved. To build/expand the rvhd school system, while kids are bussed 50 minutes according to an obsolete district map into rvhd, would be a travesty. As far as as a north fork district goes, well, in the commercial world , economies of scale are real.In the school world , i am not so sure….but probably only because of lax supervision by school boards. But, i am all for big solutions, not trimming a few teachers here and there. You seem like you know the details. You should be on the school board, if you are not already.

  • Where would we go to push this decentralization issue? The town? The state? I am ready to mount a campaign to do this, I am sick of paying for other towns children to be schooled and eat lunch. Forget a North Fork district. Mattituck Cutchogue, Southold, they will NEVER join with Riverhead. I sell houses, I know what people think of our district. I know what even people in the CITY think of our district—even if they’ve never lived here. The word has been out for years and the buzz is not getting better. Like I said, this is why a house in Riverhead costs much less than a house in those other NF towns.

  • Agree re $$. And rvhd school reputation suffers for educating more than our fair share of underpriviledged, many of whom dont live in rvhd. We shouldnt think of expanding while we import children into RVHD schools.

  • As a broker, your hope to is to convince weekend and retired people to move here. Those who, like my wife and i , pay taxes ( $20K in our case) and consume next to nothing.

  • Would love to be able to convince anyone of something, but especially once their friends instill doubt. . . Who do you think they believe, their trusted friend of that realtor who just wants them to buy a house? I show people houses in Riverhead, they love them, then they go back to the city and say to their friends “I saw a lovely house in Jamesport” and the friend says “oh you don’t want to be in the Riverhead school district”. Same thing with the duck farm in Aquebogue, it is amazing how many people in the city know that you shouldn’t buy in Aquebogue because of the duck farm. And as far as taxes go, it’s true. I wouldn’t have moved here myself if I knew my taxes would triple and my home’s value would plummet.