Town Hall Notes: Downtown sidewalks could get fixed in 2013

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | A downtown sidewalk on East Main Street in need of repair.

The long-awaited downtown sidewalk replacement project may actually happen soon.

Supervisor Sean Walter said he was told by Tatyana Golikova of the state Department of Transportation that the DOT plans to scope the project and do design work in 2012 and begin installing new sidewalks in 2013.

The town received $1.2 million in federal grants for downtown sidewalk repairs in 2005, and another $1.5 million for sidewalk repairs in Jamesport and Wading River.

In 2007, the town opted to let the DOT do the job in order to save money, but was later told that the DOT wouldn’t get to it until 2014. The town’s share of the project is $250,000.

“With any luck, the sidewalks will be replaced in 2013,” Mr. Walter said last Thursday.

Albany Advocacy Day

Mr. Walter said Tuesday that he plans to spend Leap Day, Feb. 29, in Albany lobbying state officials to create a clearinghouse or authority to better coordinate the permitting process at EPCAL and to streamline the approvals needed to develop clean businesses at the former Grumman property.

The supervisor, who is calling it Albany Advocacy Day, got the idea last year when Town Board members took a trip to Devens, Mass., which has established a similar authority and has successfully turned a former military base into a thriving industrial park.

“Only by getting all levels of government in sync and working cooperatively can we begin to create the high-tech-based, clean, green, high-paying jobs of the future here in Riverhead,” Mr. Walter said.

The proposed authority would unite federal, state, county and local governments, as well as all appropriate agencies, under the banner of one entity that would cut red tape and allow potential developers at EPCAL to receive faster approvals or denials in their attempts to create businesses, according to the supervisor.

Security concerns at Foxwood

Residents of the adjacent Foxwood Village homes say they are happy with the new design of the proposed Shops at Riverhead shopping center on Route 58, but would prefer that the developer not clear the trees bordering their homes.

Shops at Riverhead, a 270,000-square-foot shopping center proposed for the former Hazeltine property next to Riverhead Auto Mall, would include a Costco and other stores, as well as gasoline pumps at Costco.

“It’s a big change for the better from two to three years ago,” Foxwood Village resident Robert Hall said at last Thursday’s Riverhead Planning Board meeting.

Foxwood residents, however, are not happy with a proposal to clear the trees adjacent to their homes. The clearing would enable the applicants to do the project without importing sand and would help if they decide later to build more on the site using transfer of development right credits, as originally planned, when the project comprised more than 500,000 square feet of development.

“Security is a concern of our residents,” said Foxwood Village owner John Stark. “We’d like to see some type of fence or berm that offers security, and we’d like to see that land stay uncleared.”

The Planning Board took no action Thursday, although board member Ed Densieski said, “I think the buffer is going to have to be drastically improved before we approve this.”

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