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Long Island Science Center awarded $1.1M in funds it will use for new planetarium

The Long Island Science Center in Riverhead was the big winner in New York State Economic Development Funding awards, which were announced by South Fork Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor) Monday. 

The Long Island Science Center was awarded $1,120,000 in funds that will be used to construct an iconic regional attraction with a planetarium/lecture hall, functional agritech and energy exhibits, and an “inventorium makerspace” to contribute to Long Island’s economy through family-based regional tourism, Mr. Thiele said in a release Tuesday.  

“We are very excited,” said Cailin Kaller, the Long Island Science Museum’s executive director, in an interview Wednesday. 

“We were kind of speechless when we found out. I think what this will do is make what we’ve been hoping to happen actually become a reality.” 

The LISC has been planning to expand for many years and recently purchased the former Swezey’s Department Store property on East Main Street. 

It’s currently in a temporary space at Tanger Outlets. 

“We have a grand vision of adding on a planetarium, and making an amazing maker space, which would be one of the first available on Long Island.

“This is going to make that possible. We will still have to fundraise to get there, but this is a huge boost toward actually transforming the building into what we hope to make it,” she said.

A maker space is a room that allows people to undertake projects by providing necessary tools and components. 

The LISC also received a $775,000 grant from the state last year. 

Among other grant recipents: 

• The Peconic Land Trust was awarded $250,000 for the Widows Hole Restoration Phase II project in Greenport.

“The Peconic Land Trust will continue to make improvements to strengthen the shoreline and revitalize the upland habitat at Widow’s Hole Preserve,” Mr. Thiele said in a press release. “The Trust plans to add accessibility features to facilitate beach access. The shoreline will be restored with a living shoreline to mitigate erosion and improve the natural habitat.”

The Peconic Land Trust said in July that it plans to dredge the mouth of Widow’s Hole for small vessel navigation and aquaculture operations and to use the dredged materials to replenish the surrounding beach and habitat.

• The East End Tourism Alliance was awarded $137,250 for the East End Al Fresco Tourism Marketing Plan, according to Mr. Thiele. “Funds will be used to host and promote themed activities and events that offer visitors, from diverse backgrounds, a wide range of opportunities to both celebrate and learn about Long Island’s extraordinary natural assets,” he said. 

• Also receiving grant money was The Town of Southampton, which was awarded $120,000 for the Riverside Child Enrichment Center expansion project. The Town will complete an expansion and renovation of a Town-owned building on Flanders Road in Riverside to provide enhanced space for early childhood programs offered by Long Island Head Start and the Children’s Museum of the East End, according to Mr. Thiele. 

“The initiative implements community goals envisioned by the Riverside Revitalization Action Plan to expand access to affordable childcare, support working families, and establish an art/culture anchor in the downtown,” Mr. Thiele said.

Mr. Thiele said in the release that the grants represent a major commitment by the state to take initiative for creating jobs and improving the economy as the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic continues.