Sewers — key to redevelopment — slated for Riverside under $5M grant

Attempts to redevelop Riverside, which has been called one of the most impoverished areas in Suffolk County, took a step forward last week when the federal government approved $5 million it its budget to go towards the cost of a Riverside sewage treatment plant. 

“That’s a significant amount of money,” said Southampton Supervisor Jay Schneiderman. 

But it is enough? Asked what the expected total cost of the plant would be, Mr. Schneiderman said, “I don’t know, it could be $30 million? $20 million? We don’t know yet.” 

But without a sewage treatment plant, all of the plans for redeveloping Riverside can’t move forward, he said. 

Mr. Schneiderman said the town has already purchased some of the land needed for the project. The town also will need to create a sewer district for Riverside, he said. 

The Southampton Town Board adopted a Riverside Revitalization Action Plan in 2015 that outlines what uses can be approved under the proposed zoning. 

It also describes “two Riversides” that currently exist. One is described as “one of the most bucolic land masses in all of Long Island,” while the other is called “one of the most disinvested communities in all of Long Island.” 

Mr. Schneiderman said the town does plan to use Community Preservation Funds, which are approved by voters in each of the five East End towns and can be used for “water quality” projects.

“We can’t use CPF funds for the entire cost but we can use them for a portion of the cost,” he said.

Southampton Town generated about $50 million in CPF funding in 2022, the most of any East End town. The fund is generated by a 2% land transfer tax.

The town also applied for the state’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative, which Riverhead Town ended up getting.

Mr. Schneiderman said much of what the town would like to see in Riverside depends on the availability of sewage treatment.

“You can’t even do any of the wet type of uses, like restaurants or cafés, without sewers,” Mr. Schneiderman said.

“You can’t really even do apartments above on upper floors,” he said. “The development that was approved under the Riverside Revitalization Action Plan can’t be done without sewerage.”

Angela Huneault, the vice president of the Flanders, Riverhead and Northampton Community Association, remained positive. 

“Hearing about this $5 million grant is just keeping the hope going,” she said. “This is going to happen.”