Fire on the water? Town seeking grants to make it happen

FLICKR PHOTO/thurdl01 | Riverhead could soon see its own incarnation of Water Fire, as pictured in Providence.
FLICKR PHOTO/thurdl01 | Riverhead could soon see its own incarnation of Water Fire, as pictured in Providence.

Floating fire pits could soon light up the Peconic River near Grangebel Park under a proposal being put forward by the East End Tourism Alliance and the Riverhead Business Improvement District.

Bryan DeLuca of EETA and Ray Pickersgill of BID pitched the idea of bringing “River Fire” to the Peconic River at Thursday’s Riverhead Town Board work session, saying he believes it can be an attraction that drives people downtown.

The idea is based on the successful “Water Fire” program that has been done in Providence, RI for the past 10 years and which is now done in other areas throughout the nation.

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“It’s an absolute tourist attraction and we strongly believe it’s a great opportunity for Riverhead,” Mr. DeLuca, who also is executive director of the Long Island Aquarium and Hyatt Hotel in downtown Riverhead, told the Town Board on Thursday. “It would be the only one on Long Island.”

The floating pits have firewood in them and don’t use an accelerant, Mr. DeLuca said.

Pat Snyder of East End Arts has suggested that an artists’ contest could be help to design some of the floating pits. Mr. DeLuca would like to see every fifth fire pit be an “artisan” one.

In Providence, Water Fire – run by a nonprofit arts organization of the same name – has almost one “water fire” display per month and uses about 90 floating fire pits. Mr. DeLuca said he’s hoping Riverhead can have three or four per year.

Mr. DeLuca is seeking grants for the project and got informal Town Board approval to have Chris Kempner, the town’s community development director, apply for some grants for the project.

The costs of the pits can range from $2,000 to $4,000 apiece, although the BID had one designed for $1,000, with a price estimate of about $600 for each additional one.

They are hoping to start with about 10 to 20 fire pits, Mr. DeLuca said. They also would need money to purchase the wood, and volunteers to stoke the fires.

In addition, some of the fire pots could also be on land, he said.

The ones in the water can be easily removed if needed, Mr. DeLuca said.

Councilman John Dunleavy expressed concerns about the cost of policing for such an event, as well as whether the fire marshal would need to be involved.

“That should be the least of our concerns, Mr. DeLuca said on the police issue. “We’re talking about driving traffic downtown.”