The state’s Regional Economic Development Council has awarded Long Island $87.9 million to fund 94 projects in Nassau and Suffolk County, and much of that funding will benefit municipalities, organizations, and projects on the East End.
The Village of Sag Harbor will be able to rehabilitate Long Wharf, including replacement of the deteriorated bulkhead; Americans with Disabilities Act compliant access; the installation of safety guard rails; promenade surfacing for environmental sustainability; and new lighting and seating areas to encourage tourism and scenic vistas with its $1.5 million grant. This project implements the village’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program by creating a safer, more attractive, and walkable waterfront.
“The grant will take care about 25 percent of the total fees, but it will allow us to move some funds to do more projects during construction, like adding heavy duty electricity for the visiting boats and start planning for new transient docks on the north side of the wharf, which are in need of updating. We will also add a few EV stations on the wharf for electric car charging,” Mayor Kathleen Mulcahy said. “These state grants have been a big help to many communities on the East End. Long Wharf and other projects like this need these grants and they really are a great example of economic development. Long Wharf will bring people to Sag Harbor downtown and encourage them to stay longer and spend locally.”
“The Regional Economic Development Council has reflected a different approach to economic development by focusing on a grassroots decision making as opposed to a top-down approach,” Assemblyman Fred Thiele added. “In short, Long Islanders . . . made recommendations for projects, rather than having the decisions emanate from bureaucrats in Albany.”
The Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center was awarded $500,000 to build a new space for its arts academy educational programs for year-round productions, while also increasing the number of programs offered for low-income residents.
“Our hope is that in addition to serving the 10,000 children we serve each year through our arts education programs, with the new, flexible space we’ll be able to expand into offering innovative arts programs for adults and seniors — and increasing our impact on traditionally underserved students. We’ll also be able to additionally present all kinds of concerts and programming that doesn’t necessarily work in a traditional theatre,” interim executive director Julienne Penza-Boone said. “This grant award recognizes that WHBPAC has been the anchor of the village, and as it grows to new heights, so will we.”
The Montauk Historical Society also received nearly $500,000. With $313,500, the organization plans to restore the iconic Montauk Lighthouse tower, and with an additional $125,000 install a breathable coating system to protect the exterior stone from extreme weather. The structure was commissioned by President George Washington and withstood the extreme weather of the north Atlantic Ocean for over 220 years. The grant receival pays for phase three of the restoration project, the first two being repairs of damaged stone to eliminate water intrusion, and re-cementing of the entire sandstone exterior with a mortar replicating that used in 1796 by the original architect and builder, John McCombs Jr.
“Though the tower has been repaired over time, it now requires major restoration,” Montauk Historical Society secretary Stephanie Krusa said. “The Montauk Point Lighthouse has been an enduring beacon for seafarers from colonial times to the present. Recently named a National Historic Landmark, the stately tower provides a dramatic backdrop for families, school groups, and sports-minded individuals who hike and camp in surrounding parkland, canoe and fish the waters, and absorb the fascinating history on display within the lighthouse museum. It’s a cultural and educational destination for roughly 100,000 tourists and local folks who annually visit. Thus, it provides a firm economic base for Montauk and the East End region. The Lighthouse is a local and national treasure; an enduring symbol of our cultural heritage.”
With its $300,000, the East End Food Institute will establish a commercial kitchen for early-stage food companies and provide a centralized point of aggregation, processing, and distribution for products from regional farms and food businesses.
Lake Agawam Clean-up
The Village of Southampton was awarded $216,714 for two ventures to clean up Lake Agawam.
A green infrastructure project will be implemented with $186,714 to improve drainage on Gin Lane at the sound end of Lake Agawam. The project will improve the water quality of Lake Agawam by reducing and treating stormwater runoff containing nutrients and sediment. The remaining $30,000 will be used to complete an in-waterbody control of nutrients feasibility study for dredging Lake Agawam. The goal of the project will be to improve the water quality of the lake and reduce the occurrence of harmful algal blooms.
“While we are very happy to have been awarded this grant money, we continue to work closely with NY State so that more money can be awarded to us. Lake Agawam, much like other polluted water bodies with harmful algae blooms across Southampton, Long Island, and New York State are a severe problem and will take millions of dollars of grant money as well as private sector funds in order to remediate the immediate problems,” Village of Southampton Mayor Jesse Warren said. “We are working closely with residents, the Lake Agawam Conservancy, and New York state in order to achieve additional grants to tackle and achieve both short-term and medium solutions.”
He said those include skimming the algae, reducing nitrogen and phosphate inputs, reducing and/or eliminating runoff, installing updated I/A septic systems, and a sewer system for the village. He also wants to work with residents to reduce or eliminate the use of dangerous chemical herbicides and pesticides and the reduction of fertilizer use.
Southampton Arts Center also received two grants, $55,000 to enhance the historic grounds to improve accessibility, visitor safety, enhance audience experience, and improve operational efficiency with the purchase of an outdoor stage, audio/sound reinforcement, and outdoor landscape; and $14,000 to add an outdoor covered stage, landscape and architectural lighting, and an audio upgrade to improve accessibility and operational efficiency.
With $60,000 Parrish Art Museum Inc. in Water Mill will employ and mentor two fellows over two years in the curatorial and education departments, providing access for emerging professionals to gain the skills and experience to enter the arts and culture workforce, and with $47,000, Madoo Conservancy can construct a new garden welcome center that will create greater accessibility for visitors and allow for expanded educational opportunities.
“The board of the Madoo Conservancy and I are very pleased to be awarded this grant,” Director Alejandro Saralegui said. “Increasing accessibility and creating new venues for learning about the environment are crucial to our goal of becoming a cultural hub for the area.”
Thiele, Legislator Bridget Fleming, and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone signed letters of support for the funding. More than $761 million in economic and community development money was awarded through this round of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council’s funding.
“The grants for the East End have focused on the East End’s strengths, which include agriculture, marine industries, and tourism. Cultural opportunities and the arts are a big part of that,” Thiele said. “There is an understanding that our economy depends on the environment, particularly water quality and preservation initiatives. All these projects, from the Shinnecock Fishing Dock to Lake Agawam to the Montauk Point Lighthouse reflect this philosophy. Here, the economy and the environment are not at odds, they depend on each other. The East End has a strong economic base. These grants help to build upon these strengths as well as seek new opportunities.”