In late 2013, the Southampton Town Board hired a private firm as master developer to take the lead in revitalizing the downtrodden hamlet of Riverside.
Last year, that firm — and other improvement efforts in the area — gained some real traction.
Progress was made on a proposed footbridge that would connect county-owned land on the southern side of the Peconic River to downtown Riverhead. While still in the planning stages itself, a rendering of the bridge was on display in November, giving residents a sneak peek. In the meantime, Southampton Town awaits word on a $2 million grant for construction.
Earlier in November, Southampton Town residents approved a referendum permitting the town to swap land with Suffolk County in order to improve the Riverside traffic circle, which is prone to congestion.
The master developer — Renaissance Downtowns of Nassau County — set up and staffed an office on Peconic Avenue in Riverside in August. There, self-proclaimed “old-school community organizer” Siris Barrios has been hosting monthly meetings to gather feedback from locals before Renaissance Downtowns submits a plan to Southampton Town.
The company, which isn’t being paid by Southampton, hopes to buy and develop land the town purchased for economic development in the Riverside area. It also hopes to work with private property owners to either buy and develop their land or assist them in developing it themselves.
A plan is due to the Town Board by April.
Top 10 stories of 2014
No. 10: Historic district is history