09/16/13 11:05am
09/16/2013 11:05 AM
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 small sewage treatment plant specifically designed to handle the area between the Riverside traffic circle and nearby Vail Avenue, along with a possible supermarket farther south, would cost about $3.75 million, according to a draft study for a Riverside sewer district that was unveiled last week.

But since only 17 properties would be included in the proposed district, the cost of its operation and maintenance — plus debt service on initial construction costs — figures to be about $4,915 annually per residential property and $11,135 per commercial property. And those numbers are based on the project receiving $3 million in grants from Suffolk County’s alternative on-site sewage disposal system fund, officials said.

The county currently has about $4 million in that fund, said county Legislator Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk), who represents the Riverside hamlet, the rest of Southampton Town and the South Fork.

Mr. Schneiderman has said in the past he’s confident he could secure a large sum of money for a Riverside plant.

About eight of the 17 parcels in the potential sewer district are residential, according to Mary Anne Taylor of the engineering firm Camp Dresser McGee, which is heading up the $750,000 study for Suffolk County.

“Dividing anything out over 17 properties is a lot of money,” she told those in attendance at last Monday night’s meeting of the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association in Flanders.

However, if the sewage treatment system does what it’s intended to do, it will help establish additional viable commercial property and attract more businesses to Riverside.

Should that happen, the annual costs would be spread out over a larger base.

The sewer district is considered key to facilitating increased commercial development near the blighted area around the traffic circle, where a high water table and proximity to the Peconic River currently limit what can be built. Locals have long complained that the lack of a business center also contributes to higher property taxes for residential property owners in the area.

With the sewers, county and town officials envision a new Main Street-type commercial strip along Route 24 (Flanders Road), with three-story mixed use buildings along the south side of Flanders Road and a small supermarket near the existing Budget Host Inn — if property owners agree to develop their properties in such a fashion. The vision also calls for a footbridge over the Peconic River to downtown Riverhead.

“Right now, they are dividing numbers out over 17 properties,” Mr. Schneiderman said at the meeting. “But if this new Main Street actually happens, one property might have several storefronts and many apartments above it. And that’s when the numbers start to make sense. If you just left the single-family house there, you wouldn’t want to have that in the sewer district. It looks really expensive for a house.”

The sewer study began about three years ago, when officials initially possibly extending the district as far east as Longneck Boulevard in Flanders. That was found to be too large an area, and likely too expensive a project to ever get funding. So officials, following public meetings with FRNCA members, agreed to shrink the study area to cover just commercial property in Riverside.

But again, that was considered too large and unlikely to get funding. So earlier this year, at Mr. Schneiderman’s suggestion, the study scope was limited to just the south side of Flanders Road between Vail Avenue and the traffic circle and the area near the Budget Host Inn.

A list of potential locations for a sewage treatment plant had originally included about 10 sites, but that was narrowed down to one: an acre of Southampton Town-owned land behind the New York State Police barracks on Riverleigh Avenue.

Linking into existing sewer systems owned by Riverhead Town and Suffolk Community College also was considered, but those options were dropped because of lack of available capacity in those facilities, officials said.

The study is recommending use of a type of sewage treatment plant known as Membrane Bioreactor — and, specifically, the Nitrex system, which the county health department recently approved for use in Suffolk County. The Nitrex system, patented by Lombordo Associates of Massachusetts, requires very little space and has been shown to reduce nitrogen from sewage effluent at rates much better than what’s now required.

Nitrex president Pio Lombardo said in an interview in July that the Suffolk County standard for nitrogen in drinking water is 10 milligrams per liter, but that Nitrex has undertaken projects that brought levels much lower.

“We have a project in Malibu, California, in the low 1’s and we know what to do to get it below 1 [MPL],” Mr. Lombardo had told the News-Review.

All property owners within the proposed district would have to first approve the creation of the district through a referendum, Ms. Taylor said.

From there, environmental impact studies, preparation and approval of the proposed district map, public hearings, development of construction documents, state and county review of the project, lining up of financing and issuing and awarding bids would likely be needed before construction begins, Ms. Taylor said.

“It probably wouldn’t be on line until about 2019,” she said.

“The next step is really up to the community to decide what to do,” she added.

“The purpose of the study was to find out what it would cost,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “Now we know what it costs. We have a very small area that’s being looked at for redevelopment and all those property owners have to now weigh in and see if this is something they want to go forward with.”

Mr. Schneiderman said officials also have to see how much grant money can be acquired for the project.

“That would affect the ultimate costs,” he said. “That’s something I will work hard on.”

Realtor Larry Oxman, who was at last Monday’s meeting representing a property owner in the proposed district, asked if there were any other affected property owners in the audience. There were none.

The complete study can be found online at http://suffolksewerstudy.cdmims.com.


09/12/13 12:00pm
09/12/2013 12:00 PM

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Southampton Town Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor stands amongst piles of construction debris illegally dumped on town land in Riverside.

The Southampton Town Highway Department plans to clean up about two acres of heavily-vegetated town-owned land in Riverside and then clear the property next week to prevent it from being used by drug dealers, prostitutes and illegal dumpers.

“We want to make it so they don’t have anywhere to hide,” Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor said on Wednesday, when the site was being cleared with the help of inmates from the Suffolk County Correctional Facilty’s Sheriff’s Labor Assistance Program (SLAP), which uses inmates who are incarcerated on non-violent crimes to assist in cleanup projects throughout the county.

The approximately two acres of town-owned land is located behind Marta’s Deli on Riverleigh Avenue and runs to Pine Street, which is the road that connects Riverleigh Avenue to Vail Avenue. It’s been cleaned up in the past, but the dumping returns soon afterward.

“We’re always seeing people back here,” said Southampton Town Police Officer Steve Frankenbach, who’s been patrolling Riverside for 13 years. He said virtually anytime an officer goes in the heavily wooded area, they end up making an arrest, as it is frequently used by drug dealers and prostitutes.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor said these televisions that were dumped in the woods on town-owned land in Riverside came from a television repair shop that went out of business.

There are a number of paths through the site and it’s overgrown with Japanese Knotweed and other vegetation that make it easy for people to hide, officials say.

On Wednesday, the land was littered with a pile of discarded televisions from an out-of-business television repair shop, a motor boat, piles of yard waste and stumps, construction debris, gas cans, bricks, household cleaning products, tires, underwear, clothing and other garbage and paint thinners that Mr. Gregor said are considered household hazardous wastes.

“If you get a fire in here, it will go like wildfire and it will impact private homes,” Mr. Gregor said.

The glass from the televisions also could start a fire, he said.

The site is actually made up of several town-owned lands that Mr. Gregor believes the town acquired through tax defaults over the years.

The inmates from the Sheriff’s Labor Assistance Program were scheduled to be working on the site Wednesday and Thursday. The program uses criminals who have sentences that are less than a year.

The penalty for escape is seven years, so inmates have a disincentive to attempt doing so, officials says.

“This is pretty cool, it gets us out of jail,” said Andrew Mandary of Centereach, who is in jail for third-degree insurance fraud and is scheduled to be released Friday.

He was on hand for the cleanup Wednesday, where he agreed to be interviewed. He said he has participated in the program before.

“Last year, we worked on the Flight 800 Memorial at Smith Point Beach in Shirley,” he said. “We did a lot of mulch work there.”

Of the Riverside spot, he said, “It looks like a dump site.”

“Once we clean up the garbage and we knock down the vegetation, we have a bulldozer here and we’re going to clear the property,” Mr. Gregor said.

Any trees that are smaller than six inches in diameter will be removed, he said. He hopes to begin work on clearing the site Tuesday.

“We’re actually going to cultivate the entire property and make it harder for the invasive plants to grow back that can turn into cover for criminals,” he said.

Some volunteers from the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association also were on hand to help with the cleanup, including vice president Steven Schreiber and treasurer Brad Bender.


09/07/13 10:55pm
09/07/2013 10:55 PM

SH_CopsAn undercover female police officer helped nab three Riverside men and two others for charges of patronizing a prostitute as part of a reverse prostitution sting Friday in the Riverside area, Southampton Town police said.

The officer who posed as a prostitute was solicited for sex or other sex acts from the local men: Charles J. Hightower, 55, Eduardo Xuya-Tocay, 27, and Edalberto Velasquez, 24, all of whom were charged with third-degree patronizing a prostitute, a misdemeanor, police said.

Mr. Hightower faces a slew of additional charges after police said he possessed cocaine with intent to sell it for sex. Police also determined he was currently on parole and had an active bench warrant for a disorderly conduct arrest from Southampton Town police stemming from a previous incident in Bridgehampton, police said.

Mr. Hightower was charged with two felonies: third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, police said. He was also charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, a misdemeanor.

Mr. Xuya-Tocay was also charged with unlicensed operation of a vehicle for not having a valid driver’s license, police said.

Also arrested in the prostitution sting were Jose Luis Rodriguez-Perez, 41, of Hampton Bays and Miguel A. Hernandez, 32, of Southampton.

The sting, run by members of the Community Response Unit with assistance from patrol officers, was in response to community complaints about frequent street-side prostitution, police said.


08/27/13 8:12am
08/27/2013 8:12 AM


A 50-year-old Mastic man was arrested on a parole warrant and for resisting arrest after a traffic stop shortly after 2 a.m. Tuesday, Southampton Town police said.

Brian Whitley, who was wanted for violating the terms of his parole, fled the scene by foot after a police officer became aware of the warrant, police said. He was caught after a short foot pursuit and placed under arrest, police said.

He was charged with violating parole and resisting arrest. He is expected to be arraigned later this morning.

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.


“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.


08/15/13 2:00pm
08/15/2013 2:00 PM

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | This metal staircase and water pipeline are all that remains of the trailer that once housed homeless sex offenders in Riverside.

Three months ago, the homeless sex offenders housed in a faded white and blue trailer in the Suffolk County Correctional Facility parking lot were moved out, marking the victorious conclusion of a six-year battle by politicians and civic leaders.

And now, the trailer is gone, too.

The Riverside trailer, which had rested on cinder blocks next to employees’ parked cars, was removed over the weekend, leaving behind a patch of faded asphalt.

It had been too hard to move, so county workers simply traced around the trailer when they laid down the new parking lot.

A metal stairway leading to where its entrance had been and a few water and electrical pipes sprouting from the ground were all that remained of the trailer.

“That means we have an end to a long, long fight,” said Mason Haas of Jamesport, who was one of the strongest advocates for the trailers’ removal. “Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to sit out there with a beer and watch them go.”

Mr. Haas said he hopes other states look to the county’s new approach to housing sex offenders and learn from it, adding that without the support of residents and politicians, the trailers would never have been moved.

“You have to stay on government to get things changed at times,” he said.

The county-run trailers in Riverside and Westhampton had been operating since May 2007, a short-term solution that turned into a much longer stay.

The trailers were supposed to rotate among Suffolk County towns every three weeks to keep any one community from bearing the full burden, but that plan quickly fell by the wayside and the trailers became permanent.

Now, homeless sex offenders are now being housed in county-run shelters scattered throughout Suffolk. No shelter that serves families or children will take on a sex offender, county officials have said.

Though the sex offenders were long gone, the trailer remained an eyesore for the Suffolk County Sheriff’s office.

As he walked near where the trailer had been Wednesday morning, chief of staff Michael Sharkey scoffed and kicked a small piece of metal half buried in the dirt among the discarded chip bags and trash. It was a rusted harmonica.

“It’s one less headache to have,” Mr. Sharkey said. “We had nothing to do with the administration of it. It was just in the corner of our parking lot.”


08/12/13 12:14pm
08/12/2013 12:14 PM


A Riverhead man is facing felony assault and weapons charges for stabbing another man multiple times after a confrontation outside the victim’s Riverside home early Sunday, Southampton Town police said.

James Ayers, 38, approached the victim — for reasons not given by police — outside of the Ludlam Avenue house near Phillips Avenue Elementary School just before 1 a.m., according to a police report.

Mr. Ayers then yelled at the man, with the dispute quickly escalating and ending when Ms. Ayers plunged the knife into the victim’s back and lower right shoulder police said.

When police arrived on the scene, they found the victim sitting upright in a chair in his living room, bleeding from a two-inch stab wound and having “severe” trouble breathing, according to a police report. Flanders ambulance volunteers took the victim, who is listed as being in stable condition, to Peconic Bay Medical Center.

Mr. Ayers had fled the scene with the knife, but was caught about three hours later some 500 feet down the road where he was arrested, according to police reports, that also indicated witnesses had ID’s Mr. Ayers.

He was charged with first-degree assault and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

He appeared in Southampton Town Justice Court, where he was arraigned. He was held without bail at Suffolk County jail.

08/07/13 10:00am
08/07/2013 10:00 AM
Peconic footbrige

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

The Southampton Town Board will hold a special meeting at noon Thursday to vote on several resolutions, including one to authorize Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst to apply for a New York State Economic Development Consolidated Grant for a pedestrian bridge from downtown Riverhead to county parkland in Riverside.

The deadline to apply for the grant is Aug. 12.

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.

The town is seeking $1.145 million in grant money for the project, which requires approvals from Southampton Town, Riverhead Town and Suffolk County, since the land on which it is planned for in Riverside is part of a 14-acre county park.

Previous Coverage: Riverhead Town officials voice support for footbridge proposal

The issue also will be discussed publicly by the Riverhead Town Board at its 10 a.m. work session Thursday. Vince Taldone, president of the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association, will give a presentation to the board. Mr. Taldone has been a driving forced behind the plan, which FRNCA hopes will be a beginning to plans for revitalization in Riverside. Southampton Town also plans to seek proposals from developers to redevelop the business area in Riverside.

Previous Coverage: Southampton set to act as grant deadline looms

The bridge will most like be located near the Long Island Aquarium, Mr. Taldone said.