Editorial: Funding for Riverside is key to its future

Suffolk County’s capital budget for 2016-18 contains $1 billion for projects countywide, with more than half planned to be spent in 2016. Yet funding for the county’s most economically distressed community — factoring in employment levels, median household income, housing values, etc. — was on the chopping block for a scary amount of time.

Reconfiguring Riverside’s traffic circle might seem a rather mundane project. But when funding for it was pushed back to 2018, it demonstrated yet again where the East End stands on the county’s priority list. Ronkonkoma Hub and Wyandanch Rising make nice headlines for the masses up west, but what many legislators might not understand is that a new traffic circle is integral to the future of Riverside — and neighboring Riverhead Town. If new traffic patterns are delayed for several years in this busy area, future private investments could very well be also.

Studies have been completed over the last two decades about how to revitalize Riverside, Flanders and Northampton. With new zoning recently proposed for Riverside — and hopefully, soon to be approved and then applied — now is the time to act on what those studies have recommended and give the hamlet the face-lift it needs to continue that momentum. Hats off to those who worked to keep funding for the traffic circle in next year’s budget. It’s certainly a feather in the cap of Legislator Jay Schneiderman, as he eyes Southampton Town’s supervisor post next year.