06/12/14 7:00am
06/12/2014 7:00 AM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | A bridge proposal would connect downtown Riverhead with county-owned parkland on the south side of the Peconic River.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | A bridge proposal would connect downtown Riverhead with county-owned parkland on the south side of the Peconic River.

By definition, a bridge needs two sides to move someone from one place to the next.

And one proposed pedestrian bridge — spanning the Peconic River to link downtown Riverhead to Riverside — now has the official support of both of those sides, as a majority of Riverhead Town Board members OK’d a measure last week to apply for a state grant application to fund the project.

(more…)

08/23/13 12:00pm
08/23/2013 12:00 PM
TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | Route 24 in Riverside, where a new 'Main Street' is envisioned.

TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | Route 24 in Riverside, where a new ‘Main Street’ is envisioned.

A plan to create a walking trail through Suffolk County parkland to the banks of the Peconic River is now in line to get $15,000 downtown revitalization grant, town and county officials announced Friday.

The trail comes as part of a larger vision to create a true Riverside business district along Route 24 and the traffic circle.

The 5 1/2-foot wide, 1,000-foot long trail will be created using permeable natural stone material and run from Route 24 sidewalk to the riverfront, across the river from the Long Island Aquarium & Exhibition Center, said county Legislator Jay Schneiderman, who announced the award, which was recommended by members the Suffolk County Downtown Revitalization Citizens Advisory Panel.

The county Legislature must still approve the grant recommendation, and the money would go to Southampton Town, officials said.

The trail is planned for a 14-acre wooded area purchased by Suffolk County in 2011 for $2.4 million.

The news comes on the heels of Southampton Town, with support from neighboring Riverhead, applying for a grant to fund the construction of a footbridge that would span the river, connecting the trail to downtown Riverhead.

EDITORIAL: RIVERSIDE PLAN WILL NEED SUPPORT

“I am happy to see we are moving forward with this very important grant from Suffolk County,” Vince Taldone, president of the Flanders Riverside and Northampton Community Association, said in a statement. “Along with substantial financial support from Southampton Town, this Suffolk County money will fund the construction of the first phase of the town’s long planned Riverside Maritime Trail. That trail is the first step in developing a waterfront park and revitalized commercial center in Riverside.”

Mr. Schneiderman, who in May suggested Southampton Town apply for downtown revitalization grant, said he’s confident that the trail will full legislative support.

“The trail will encourage park use by providing access to the scenic Peconic River,” Mr. Schneiderman said.

An agreement between Southampton Town and the county will see the town maintain the trail.

The trail project could be completed within nine months, officials said.

At a FRNCA meeting in June, Mr. Schneiderman unveiled a 3-D computer graphic “vision” for the area near the Riverside traffic circle.

The vision calls for creating a new downtown commercial area for the long-beleaguered Riverside hamlet just east of the traffic circle, with three-story mixed use buildings on the south side of Flanders Road, across from McDonald’s; a restaurant at the former Riverboat Diner property; a supermarket near where the Budget Host Inn is; as well as the walking path and footbridge.

Mr. Schneiderman’s plan also showed a realignment of the traffic circle as well as one small sewer plant to serve just this small business district.

He has said other small decentralized plants could be built elsewhere in the future if the business area grows.

mwhite@timesreview.com

08/06/13 8:00am
08/06/2013 8:00 AM
JAY SCHNEIDERMAN COURTESY RENDERING | The footbridge that would cross the Peconic River and connect Riverside to downtown Riverhead.

JAY SCHNEIDERMAN COURTESY RENDERING | A conceptual rendering of a footbridge that would cross the Peconic River and connect Riverside to downtown Riverhead.

Riverhead Town officials interviewed this week voiced mostly support for a plan to build a footbridge over the Peconic River, connecting downtown Riverhead to a section of county parkland in Riverside.

But the Riverhead officials also had questions.

The bridge proposal will be discussed at Thursday’s Riverhead Town Board work session, starting at 10:20 a.m. in Town Hall.

It was als0 discussed at last Thursday’s Southampton Town Board work session, where it received mostly support.

The bridge is being planned by the Flanders Riverside and Northampton Community Association and Southampton Town, where officials are hoping to quickly apply for a $1.145 million state grant that would allow Suffolk County’s $2.4 million cost of acquiring the land in 2011 to count as a matching component of the grant.

The grant has a Aug. 12 deadline for submissions.

“I think it’s a good idea,” said Ray Pickersgill, president of the downtown Riverhead Business Improvement District management association. ”They are going to make a little park over there [in Riverside] and will put have a gravel parking lot on Flanders Road. It’s going to be a place where you can walk and sit in a park and then cross over to the Riverhead side.”

“I think it is going to be good,” he continued. ”They have to do something over there, and obviously they have to start somewhere, so this may be a good idea to start with.”

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said he hasn’t heard much feedback from Riverside residents on the bridge proposal, but added, “I don’t necessarily see it as a bad thing. Anything that causes positive things to happen in Riverside will cause positive things to happen in Riverhead.”

However, he added, “I’ve been wrong before.”

“I think for a long time we’ve been wanting to get some synergy between Riverside and Riverhead because it really is one common area,” Riverhead Councilman Jim Wooten said. “I am not opposed to a footbridge, I  just want to know where it is going. I hope the foot bridge would be part of a bigger plan for Riverside revitalization.

“If that’s the catalyst to get that moving forward, then I have no problem with it.”

Mr. Wooten questioned where people would park to access the Riverside end of the bridge and he questioned if it would need an elevator to be handicapped accessible.

“It’s an interesting concept but they need to show us the details and ‘show me the money,” Riverhead Councilman George Gabrielsen said.

Riverhead council members Jodi Giglio and John Dunleavy couldn’t be reached for comment, although Mr. Dunleavy had raised some concerns during an interview on WRIV 1390 radio Friday.

In the radio interview, he said no one had contacted the Riverhead Town Board about the bridge and said it would have to be high enough to avoid impeding boat traffic downtown.

Vince Taldone, president of FRNCA, has said the bridge would be the same height as the Route 105 bridge, and he said the initials estimates took into account an elevator on the Riverhead side.

“It is a tight squeeze on the Riverhead side because we can’t give up any parking,” Mr. Taldone said. “Every spot must be retained.”

He added that there’s a chance the footrbidge might not need an elevator.

On the Riverside side of the bridge, he said, there would be parking on the street, parking on the redeveloped south side and possibly a small amount of parking on the park site itself.

Town officials and county Legislator Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk) have envisioned a redeveloped business district on the south side of Flanders Road in Riverside, near the traffic circle — and the walking bridge over the river, along with a walking path through the county parkland leading to the bridge, are part of that plan.

The parkland where the path is proposed is the same land where Southampton Inn owner Dede Gotthelf had once proposed a hotel and conference center, but ended up selling the land to the county as open space.

Southampton Town officials are planning to issue a request for proposals soon seeking developers who might be interested in building in the proposed Riverside business district.

At last Thursday’s Southampton Town work session, officials stressed they should get the grant first and then worry about the design of the bridge afterward, since the deadline for the grant is nearing.

“I think this will become a landmark,” Mr. Schneiderman said of the proposed bridge in an interview last week. “People will get married on the bridge, and people will come to Riverhead just to walk on the bridge.”

tgannon@timesreview.com

08/01/13 3:35pm
08/01/2013 3:35 PM
Peconic footbrige

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne Holst (center) and town council members discussing plans for a footbridge over the Peconic.

Questions over who would be responsible for cleaning and maintaining a footbridge proposed to span the Peconic River, as well as the size and design of a the project, are being put on hold — for now.

JAY SCHNEIDERMAN COURTESY RENDERING | The footbridge that would cross the Peconic River and connect Riverside to downtown Riverhead.

JAY SCHNEIDERMAN COURTESY RENDERING | The footbridge that would cross the Peconic River and connect Riverside to downtown Riverhead.

Southampton Town officials are instead focusing on getting a state grant application filed before the deadline in two weeks.

During a Southampton Town Board work session Thursday morning, board members said they supported the bridge, which would connect county-owned parkland in Riverside to downtown Riverhead, adding that the bridge might help jump-start revitalization efforts for Riverside.

“Action on the part of the municipality is a signal to private industry that this is a place that’s going to get more and more attention,” said Councilwoman Bridget Flemming, “But someone has to take that first step over the bridge, so to speak.”

The support came a day after the Suffolk County Legislature voted unanimously in support of the grant application.

Vince Taldone, president of the Flanders Riverside Northampton Community Association, told Town Board members that there would be several months to iron out the details of the bridge and pitch the idea to residents before any grant money would be accepted.

The bridge is expected to cost $1.145 million, but the state grant being pursued would allow Suffolk County’s purchase of land in Riverside in 2011 to be used as the municipality’s matching portion of the grant, meaning the construction of the bridge would be fully covered by the grant.

“[We would pay] zip for the bridge itself,” Mr. Taldone said.

But if the town missed the deadline, the county’s contribution wouldn’t count towards the grant next year.

“The key here,and the rush, is that three year window in which that money counts,” Mr. Taldone said.

Riverhead and Southampton towns would be responsible for paying to upkeep the bridge, as well as properly patrolling the area, though the agreement over which town would do what would be discussed after the application was filed.

Councilman Christopher Nuzzi said he had concerns over approving the project before the design was finalized, but Mr. Taldone said a portion of the $1.145 million cost of the bridge is set aside for engineering and design.

The town would only need to apply using the concept of a footbridge, he said; the specifics of the type of bridge could be settled and discussed by the community before the grant is accepted.

Mr. Taldone said the bridge would need to be at least 24 feet above the median high tide line — the same height as the County Road 105 bridge — to allow boats to enter the Riverhead town docks.

The bridge would connect to a 5-foot-wide trail Southampton Town plans to create. The trail would start on Route 24 and lead to the river.

Mr. Taldone said that while the bridge would create a “walkable community” connecting Riverhead to downtown Riverside, the town would need to ensure that criminal elements stay out of the area.

FRNCA representatives will go to the Riverhead Chamber of Commerce next week to pitch the footbridge, and then speak before the Riverhead Town Board to get that board’s approval for the grant application.

psquire@timesreview.com