Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman led community members through a virtual tour of a revitalized and redeveloped Riverside business corridor at Monday night’s Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association meeting.
Simulated people could be seen sitting outside at cafe tables along a pedestrian-friendly street, one lined with charming, New England-type structures and businesses.
There are plenty of obstacles that Suffolk County and Southampton Town must overcome before those images become a reality, however. The first, Mr. Schneiderman explained, is the installation of a sewer system along State Route 24 that could support such development.
In September, CDM Smith, a consulting firm with offices in Woodbury, will present its sewer feasibility study to community members, along with the estimated cost of installing a wastewater treatment system. Mr. Schneiderman secured a $250,000 grant in 2010 that was used to hire the firm to undertake the study.
“They are well on the way,” he said.
Boris Rukovets, public works special project supervisor for Suffolk County, said the study will outline a number of different options and locations for a sewage system, which would allow for economic revitalization. Such systems, he added, have also been proven to raise property values in an area. The consultants are looking at the option of installing three to five smaller treatment plants, the location of which would be determined with input from the community, rather than one large plant that would require more space.
Once the feasibility study is completed, the Suffolk County Department of Public Works will comment on it, and then the community will be able to provide feedback on the various alternatives and the costs of each.
Town and county officials had discussed the possibility of connecting the hamlet of Riverside with the Riverhead Town sewer system, but Mr. Rukovets said it is not a possibility due to restrictions on how much flow it can handle. Though he could not estimate the cost of a new sewage system, Mr. Rukovets said it is expected to cost several million dollars.
Mr. Schneiderman added that he will direct his efforts to securing grants or funding for the project on the county level. “Believe me, it’s on my radar,” he said.
Ben Wright, principal civil engineer for the Suffolk County Department of Public Works, said on Monday that it would take at least two to three years for the project to be shovel-ready once the community agrees on a plan. The actual construction could take an additional two to three years, he added.
“It’s going to take time, and unfortunately, what we’ve found is if you don’t get the subsidy, people just can’t afford it,” he said.
Mr. Schneiderman’s graphic illustration of the area also displayed various options that the county is examining to alleviate traffic through the Riverside circle. They have narrowed the options to two: one would route Riverleigh Avenue west to Lake Avenue before the circle, eliminating one leg. That option would require the cooperation of the owners of the lots that sit between the two roads. The other option would elongate the circle into an egg-like shape, increasing the distance between each leg and making it easier for traffic to flow steadily through it.
Mr. Schneiderman said the county has used data-based programs to determine the long-term impacts of different options, and determined that those two would be the most efficient.
“I’m in it a lot and it’s a problem,” he said, of the traffic circle. “As this area develops, it’s only going to get worse.”