Riverhead Town eyeing $25M federal grant to continue downtown revitalization

Fresh on the heels of having received a $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant from New York state, Riverhead Town is now hoping to get a grant of up to $25 million from the federal government. 

That money, if awarded, would come from the U.S. Department of Transportation through RAISE 2023, a discretionary grant program, according to town community development director Dawn Thomas. 

“Our application is for an alternative transportation circuit that would allow all of our projects to be connected through improvements to bike and walking paths,” she said. 

The grant application specifically mentions construction of “interconnected and improved bike, rail, transit-oriented development and pedestrian pathways connecting various modes of transportation, as well as flood mitigation.”

It also calls for connections to the planned Transit Oriented Development project on Railroad Avenue and connections to downtown revitalization efforts, she said. 

“A significant part of the cost would be for the new parking garage that’s planned on First Street,” Ms. Thomas said, adding that other envisioned uses for any federal funds include a path extending to the riverwalk, enhancing downtown pedestrian connections. 

According to a resolution passed Jan. 18 by the Town Board, the federal grant calls for a 20% match, which the town would have to pay. 

However, the grant allows smaller match amounts for rural areas, and as Riverhead has been designated rural, it would pay only a 5% match on any RAISE 2023 funding received. 

The deadline for that grant application is the end of February, Ms. Thomas said. 

This will be the fourth time the town has sought federal funding through RAISE, which it has yet to win. 

“We have to keep trying,” Ms. Thomas said. “It took us five times to get the DRI grant.”