Riverside officials take their case straight to the governor

A census tract that includes Riverside, Flanders and Northampton could qualify for an Opportunity Zone designation only if Gov. Andrew Cuomo chooses it — and residents in those hamlets are doing their best to make sure he does.

On Friday, Mr. Fisher created an online petition supporting the designation for Riverside. On Sunday, he and Siris Barrios of Riverside Rediscovered delivered a copy of the petition to Gov. Cuomo personally at a Democratic event.

By Monday night, Ms. Barrios said the petition had garnered 512 signatures.

“We’ve never gotten more than 250 signatures on any of our prior petitions,” she said.

The Opportunity Zone designation is available to census tracts where more than 20 percent of the population is below the federal poverty level.

Downtown Riverhead and Greenport are the only East End tracts that qualify, but the program also allows the governor to choose a census tract that adjoins a qualifying tract. That’s what residents are hoping will happen with Riverside, since it abuts the downtown Riverhead tract.

The Riverside hamlet on its own is one of the poorest hamlets in Suffolk County, but when it is combined with Flanders and Northampton, the resulting census tract doesn’t meet the 20 percent criteria.

Riverhead Town officials, meanwhile, have asked the governor to choose downtown Riverhead and the Enterprise Park at Calverton, rather than Riverside.

The governor can select up to 500 census tracts statewide for the Opportunity Zone program, which allows those who invest in the qualifying areas to get a reduction or elimination of capital gains taxes incurred at the end of 10 years.

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