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Pending improvements to parks funded through solar company agreement

Riverhead Town’s parks and playgrounds got a $344,000 boost recently when the Town Board voted to allocate funding from the community benefits agreement and a trust and agency agreement with a solar company.
The community benefit agreement called for sPower Solar to pay the town $1.05 million, while the $275,000 trust and agency agreement is essentially a fee for an easement over town land. sPower Solar is building a 165-acre, 20-megawatt solar farm in Calverton.
Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said the town is making “historic investments” into its parks and open space, and that with the additional funding, the town has invested more than $500,000 during her two years as supervisor.
The biggest expenditure was $81,600 to establish a hamlet park and preserve at Sharper Hill, where a Native American burial site exists.
“Riverhead’s parks and open spaces have been neglected for too long,” Ms. Jens-Smith said in a release. “Residents have been calling for these changes for years now, as they’ve seen their recreation areas ignored due to lack of funding. New pickleball courts, playgrounds, walking trails, and improvements to our dog parks are being funded to answer those calls and meet the needs of our hamlets.”
The specific projects include new playground equipment and tennis courts at Police Officers Memorial Park in Wading River; the creation of the Sharper Hill Preserve in Jamesport; new playground equipment at the George Young Community Center; water installation at the Stotzky Park dog park, and resurfacing the pickleball court there; upgrades at Weeping Willow Park on West Main Street; install two pickleball courts at Veterans Memorial Park in Calverton and installation of water for the dog park there; resurfacing the tennis courts at South Jamesport Beach; and upgrades to the Sound Avenue Preservation. “So many have been advocating for these improvements for so long, and it’s great to see it get done,” said Councilwoman Catherine Kent.
“This funding will go directly into maintaining and restoring our resources and creating a welcoming atmosphere for residents and guests visiting alike,” said Councilman Jim Wooten.
Photo caption: Pickleball courts at Stotzky Park will be resurfaced and additional courts will be installed at Veterans Memorial Park in Calverton. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister/file)
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