Southampton Gets Grants For Riverside Bridge And Hampton Bays Park

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Southampton Town has been awarded two grants for projects at the center of economic revitalization plans in Hampton Bays and Riverside.

Two other grants, one for an ice production facility at Cor-J Seafood in Hampton Bays and an arts grant for a Water Mill-based foundation, were also announced this week.

The town will receive $85,875 from the state to pay for the design and planning of a proposed pedestrian bridge connecting the Peconic River waterfronts of the Riverside neighborhood in northern Southampton Town and the Town of Riverhead.

The other will pour $128,500 into the planning and design of Good Ground Park, a project envisioned to spur a mix of recreational, cultural and economic opportunities in downtown Hampton Bays.

“These economic development grants represent a major commitment by the State of New York to take the lead in creating jobs and improving the economy,” State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. said in a statement on a number of grants awarded to the region. “I am pleased that Long Island was chosen for such substantial funding and that the businesses and communities in my district will benefit.”

The town had applied to the state for the full $1.1 million estimated cost of the pedestrian footbridge in Riverside, which is seen as the first likely step of a region-wide economic revitalization the town is embarking on through the use of a private “master developer” and broad rezoning of the Riverside business district.

But Vincent Taldone, president of the Flanders Riverside Northampton Community Association, said the state’s granting of the much smaller amount was not disappointing since it was, practically speaking, the most reasonable step for them take.

“We applied for funding for both the design and the construction, we didn’t have a specific design for that location to give them and say please fund this, “So, the way I read it, the state saw that we were months away from being ready anyway and said, ‘We’d like to see the actual bridge and some good cost estimates and engineering drawing. Cover all your bases and come back to us.’”

Mr. Taldone said the funding will allow the town to flesh out the project more fully and then return to the state, hopefully next year, and again seek a grant to fund the construction of the bridge.

The preliminary sketches of Good Ground Park show an open park with an amphitheater, playground and picnic areas and hiking trails wending through a wooded area on a 36-acre parcel the town purchased in 2003 with money from the Community Preservation Fund. The park would link to business properties on its southern border and to Hampton Bays’ main street through a pedestrian green. Town officials and proponents have touted the vision for the park as being a way to expand and stimulate business in downtown Hampton Bays, and to provide a cultural draw for people outside the hamlet and a recreational area for those within.

“The Hampton Bays community’s dream for a central community park has taken one very significant step closer to becoming reality through the award of this grant funding.” Deputy Supervisor Frank Zappone, who helped lead the community discussion and grant application for the project, said in a statement announcing the grant awards.

The town will now seek proposals for the design and cost estimates of the full park improvements from professional engineering and design firms.

The state also awarded neighboring Riverhead more than $1.3 million for a sewer treatment facility at Enterprise Park at Calverton, Stony Brook University $125,000 for a business incubator program, the Town of East Hampton $258,000 for improvements to a commercial fishing dock and the not-for-profit Byrd Hoffman Watermill Foundation $100,000 for development of an arts program.

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