Riverhead faculty protest Riverside sewer plant

Members of the Riverhead Central Faculty Association, which represents teachers in the Riverhead schools, held a “lunchtime demonstration” Tuesday outside Phillips Avenue Elementary School in Riverside to call attention to the fact that Southampton Town has proposed building a sewage treatment plant right next to that school. 

“This is not an appropriate place to put a sewage treatment plant,” said high school teacher Garrett Moore. “It’s between an elementary school and a Head Start facility. It would never fly next to Southampton High School.”

Tim Gannon photo

“For me, as a teacher, we just have a lot of questions about our safety and the safety of our students, ensuring that when we have our students outside for recess, that the sewage plant doesn’t have any negative affect on them,” said teacher Dan Estrada.

The proposed sewage plant has been in the works as part of Southampton Town’s plan to build up development in Riverside

The plan didn’t seem to get much attention until a few weeks ago, when several speakers — most of them residents — at a Southampton Town Board meeting mentioned that they were unaware of the proposal. 

The town never raised enough funding for the proposal until this past year. After receiving state and federal grants, the plan is moving ahead.

“We just found out about this a couple of months ago, so we’ve been looking at it and we decided we wanted to bring this to the community’s attention,” said RFCA president Greg Wallace. “It’s an impoverished area of the town and we want to make sure the people in this area are aware of this and their voices are heard.

“We just want to raise awareness of the fact that there’s a treatment plant scheduled to go right next-door to the school,” Mr. Wallace said. “So we want to raise awareness in this community to make sure there’s no adverse effects to our students and members.” 

The proposed location is the former site of a drive-in theater that has recently become an industrial park. 

Mr. Estrada said the issue “kind of snuck up on us, and now we’re getting a lot of questions that we don’t have the answer to.” 

Southampton Town Supervisor Maria Moore was not available for comment.