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Riverhead, Southampton lose bids for $10M revitalization grant

Neither Riverhead nor Southampton Town will receive the $10 million “Downtown Revitalization Initiative” grant from New York State this year.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday that the money would go to the Nassau County hamlet of Baldwin, meaning that Nassau County communities have received the Long Island grant for three of the four years it’s been awarded.

Westbury, Hicksville and Central Islip were the previous winners.

Riverhead’s application outlined a conceptual plan to move some of the parking along the Peconic River to north of Main Street, in order to accommodate a new town square near the river.

It also called for leveraging the town parking lot on Railroad Avenue and Court Street to private developers who would then build a parking garage for the town in exchange for permission to build apartments above it and retail stores on ground level.

“It’s disappointing,” Riverhead Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said. “It would have been nice to have that infusion of money into the Town of Riverhead. But I think we’re on a path to revitalizing downtown. We’ve applied for other grant money to be able to complete some of the projects that we had applied for in the DRI grant. We put a strong application in, and we’ll apply again next year, but we’re still going to move ahead forward as best we can with the ideas that we had for revitalization.”

Southampton Town’s application sought the money in order to implement the town’s Riverside Revitalization Action Plan, which aims to revitalize one of the most impoverished areas on Long Island.

The DRI grant is selected by the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council, which is one of 10 such councils across the state that each give out $10 million to a selected downtown area.

“With this competition, we are challenging local governments to come up with a comprehensive plan to revitalize their downtowns, and Baldwin did exactly that,” Gov. Cuomo said in a press release.

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