The Riverhead Town Board has established a steering committee to oversee a $569,000 state Department of State grant it received last year, and will soon be issuing a request for proposals from planners and architects to hammer out a comprehensive plan aimed at revitalizing Main Street.
The area to be studied consists of 452 acres in all, and stretches from West Main Street by Tanger Outlet Center to East Main Street near Hubbard Avenue including downtown Riverhead.
This section of Riverhead qualifies for the grant because of 18 potential “brownfield” sites have been identified within the 452 acres, town officials said. These include old gas station sites, auto repair sites, duck farms, old dry cleaner properties and sites with fertilizer contamination. The grant will not be financing any capital improvements. The idea behind the grant is that a comprehensive plan could be used to help incorporate less desirable sites during planning and development processes, bettering the chance of addressing brown fields and not leaving them untouched, town officials said.
“The grant itself is for revitalization of the corridor from Tanger to Hubbard Avenue,” said town community development director Chris Kempner. “It’s called a brownfield grant, but it doesn’t just effect the areas that might be brownfields. There is a perception of brownfields that leads to disinvestment, and that’s what the BOA [Brownfield Opportunity Area] grant aims to remediate.”
The consultants ultimately hired to develop the plan will work on technical areas, with input from a steering committee made up of local business leaders. The grant also comes in partnership with the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
Supervisor Sean Walter said the two main things he’d like to see included in the efforts are a demographic study and a marketing plan for downtown Riverhead. He said the demographic study Regal Cinemas did of the 11901 zip code contributed to the company not coming to town. But he said the 11901 zip code demographics don’t take into account the fact that people come from all over the East End to shop in Riverhead.
Town officials have said data compiled through the grant can be used to help businesses that are seeking loans in the area.
The members of the steering committee include Pat Snyder of East End Arts, Dennis McDermott of the Riverhead Project, Janine Nebons of Tanger and the Chamber of Commerce, Bryan DeLuca of Long Island Aquarium, Dee Muma of Dark Horse Restaurant, and Ray Pickersgill of Robert James Salon and the downtown Business Improvement District.