Southampton Town received $265,000 in federal Environmental Protection Agency grant money this week to help clean up nine specific areas in Riverside.
The funding, known as Brownfields Assessment Grants, included a community-wide petroleum grant of $174,500 and a community-wide hazardous substance grant of $90,500.
“Receipt of this grant will allow the town to move forward with further assessment and cleanup of targeted properties, as we continue our efforts to transform this economically disadvantaged and blighted hamlet into a vibrant focal point on the banks of the Peconic River,” Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said in a press release.
The specific properties cited by the town are:
• the former Getty gas station at the traffic circle
• the former “five cent” store at 39 Flanders Road
• a residence at 104 Flanders Road
• a now-vacant property just south of Marta’s Deli on Riverleigh Avenue that once housed an auto supply store
• the former Dyer Motors car dealership on Riverleigh Avenue
• a vacant building site at 117 Ludlam Ave. that most recently was a church
• a residence at 568 Riverleigh Ave.
• the apartment complex at 223 Flanders Road
• property at 48 Old Quogue Road that contains a boarded-up 2 1/2-story auto repair building and several other boarded-up structures.
The sites were identified in a Brownfield Opportunity Areas study the town completed recently using a $236,900 state grant it received in 2013. The sites are considered potentially contaminated due to past fuel or hazardous materials spills. For instance, the former Getty station had “several closed spill incidents,” while the “five cent” store property was “subject of a closed spill incident that occurred in 1990 that affected groundwater,” according to the town’s grant application.
Southampton Town has been pursuing a revitalization effort in Riverside in conjunction with Renaissance Downtowns, which the town appointed as its “master developer” for the hamlet in 2013.
Riverside has long been considered one of the most economically distressed hamlets in Suffolk County.
Southampton Town has been trying to get as much grant money as possible for the area, but recently lost out on being chosen by the state as an Opportunity Zone, a federal designation that allows low-income census tracts to offer tax incentives to developers who invest in those areas.
“We’re a little confused by that, and the staff here is reaching out to the governor’s office,” deputy supervisor Frank Zappone said. “We thought that given the demographics and economy in Riverside that it was a no-brainer.”
Riverside has one of the lowest income levels in the county, but it is in the same census tract as Flanders and Northampton, where income levels are higher.
The next big application for both Southampton and Riverhead towns will be the Regional Economic Development Zone’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative grants, in which New York State will award $10 million to one hamlet in the Nassau-Suffolk area.
Southampton and Riverhead applied jointly for that grant last year and independently the year before that.
This year, Mr. Zappone said, the two towns are likely to apply separately again. The application deadline is June 1.
To date, no Suffolk County hamlet has won that grant. The previous two winners were Westbury and Hicksville, both in Nassau County.
Photo caption: This boarded-up former gas station in Riverside is one of nine properties to be cleaned up using grant money awarded to Southampton Town. (Tim Gannon photo)