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First forum scheduled as Riverhead Town seeks public input for spending $10M grant

How should Riverhead spend the $10 million it received in Downtown Revitalization Initiative grants?

That will be the topic of several public forums planned this year.

In January, Riverhead Town was one of two Long Island municipalities to receive a $10 million DRI grant from New York State.

Projects identified in Riverhead’s successful DRI application included the Riverhead Town Square; the Railroad Avenue transit-oriented development project; implementing downtown flood mitigation measures, improvements to the Suffolk Theater and upgrades to Vail-Leavitt Music Hall.

The DRI process is led by the Department of State and communities receive support from private sector experts, including planning consultant Perkins-Eastman, and a team of state agency staff.

The DOS works in partnership with Empire State Development and other state agencies.

A “Local Planning Committee” has also been formed by the state and town to provide guidance on how to identify capital projects that have the potential to “increase economic vitality and growth in downtown Riverhead,” officials said.

Those projects would need to, as an example, improve access to quality housing at an affordable price, support job growth and job access, enhance existing public open space or provide new spaces for cultural activities.

The LPC will host three public forums, the first of which will be held at Riverhead Town Hall Monday, March 21, at 6 p.m.

It will co-chaired by Supervisor Yvette Aguiar and former Greenport mayor David Kapell, who’s a local member of the NYS Regional Economic Development Council, representing Long Island.

See also:

Looking back at prior downtown grant winners shows path forward

What comes next after receiving grant?

Riverhead awarded $10 million grant

Mr. Kapell has served on the state’s Long Island Regional Economic Development Council since 2015.

“The DRI, a cornerstone of the State’s economic development program, will transform Downtown Riverhead into a regional destination to the benefit of Long Island residents, after nearly 30 years of diligent planning efforts,” Mr. Kapell said in a press release.

“It is imperative that the residents and community leaders are actively involved to help the state and town choose the most effective and meaningful projects to maximize public benefit and serve the community’s vision, as expressed through extensive public engagement. I believe the DRI will be the catalyst for Downtown Riverhead to finally realize its full economic development potential.”

A subsequent meeting is scheduled for May 23 at the Suffolk Theater and either Grangebel Park or the Town Square site. A date for the third meeting has not yet been finalized. All of the meetings start at 6 p.m.

The final selection will be determined by the governor in the fall following public participation.

“We are calling upon our residents to help us recommend to the governor a list of projects that will ultimately be selected by Gov. [Kathy] Hochul for funding under the DRI,” Ms. Aguiar said in a press release.

“These projects will transform the downtown business district into a thriving regional hub that offer an attractive venue for people to live, work and play in Riverhead. However, we, once again, need the public’s input to ensure that what is developed fully is consistent with the needs and wants of the entire community.”

The town will post information to its website or to a new website devoted to the DRI process. The website will be at www.riverheaddri.com.

“I am confident that the selected projects will result in a compact, safe, walkable downtown that will consist of a public gathering space, as well as pedestrian connectivity from Main Street to the riverfront to the railroad station,” Ms. Aguiar said.