Community development seeks $50k for sidewalks

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Many of the sidewalks downtown are in need of repair.

The Riverhead Community Development office is seeking $186,000 in grant money from Suffolk County and, if it receives the award, $50,000 will likely go toward downtown sidewalk repairs.

Town community development director Christine Kempner brought the matter to the Town Board for preliminary approval at its public work session last Thursday. The board formally signed off on the application at Tuesday’s meeting.
The money would be distributed among town social service organizations, the town’s home improvement program and the sidewalk project, Ms. Kempner said. About $20,000 would be used to offset the department’s administration costs.

The grant, known as a Community Development Block Grant, was awarded to the county by the federal government. Those funds are then distributed to smaller municipalities within Suffolk that are part of a consortium. Riverhead has applied for and received the grant every year for the past three decades, receiving $186,000 this past year alone, Ms. Kempner said. Last year, the grant money was used for the home improvement program, administration costs, social services and weatherization of a door at the Riverhead Town Senior Center in Aquebogue.

“I don’t understand why you would put $50,000 in the sidewalks if the state is going to redo them anyway,” said Town Board member Jim Wooten, referring to $1.2 million worth of sidewalk repairs New York State will perform on Main Street in 2014.
Ms. Kempner explained that the money could be used for other sidewalks in the downtown area, not just on Main Street.
“This would give us a little extra sidewalk money for downtown,” she said.

Ms. Kempner said the county will most likely not distribute the funds until April.

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