Southampton Town has been awarded a $74,999 grant to combat invasive species at Riverside Park.
Southampton, which was chosen by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, is the only municipality on Long Island to receive this state grant.
“We’re cleaning up shorefront and restoring wetland to its natural configuration,” Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said. “It’s one step in the development of the park. There are many steps to go. We have a number of applications in for grants for that property — some significant that we’re hoping for, but if you’re going to create a park, you want the landscape to be appropriate. You want it to be the way a natural shoreline should look.”
It comes at a time when the town is ready to award the bid for final design plans to build the park, and also comes close to coinciding with Invasive Species Awareness Week, July 7 to 13. It also follows two State DEC Environmental Justice grants of $50,000 each awarded to the Flanders, Riverside, Northampton Community Association to help design and construct the park. The town has also received two Local Water Revitalization Plan grants and an Empire State Development Grant totaling $285,000.
“This is a wonderful piece of the total cost for the shoreline restoration to make this a more natural riverside,” FRNCA President Vince Caldone said. “This is also another sign from the state that they’re supporting the work we’re doing here. It’s all coming together — all these different agencies are supporting the different components of the project, and that means a lot.”
Finding Riverside on a map, you’ll see a river and bay and thousands of acres of preserved woodland in the Pine Barrens. But Caldone said if you live in Riverside, you have no access to any of the waterfront.
“You have to travel to another place, which is also different for some people in this community with limited incomes, maybe one car, maybe not,” he said. “So, it’s really critical to have this access to be able to experience the river, love it, and value it. The more people experience it, the more they want to protect it.”
Caldone added support from all different angles helps the project’s standing and position in competitions for future money.
“It’s a stamp of approval,” he said. “And restoring the shoreline is most critical. It’s important for the rest of Peconic Bay. This kind of work needs to be done.”
Conceptual designs for the Riverside Park, which can be found at www.southamptontownny.gov, were presented to the town board last year. They included a multi-phased construction plan proposal to incorporate a walking trail, fishing platforms, and other amenities along the Peconic River. The design plan was rendered following extensive community surveys. The supervisor said it’s going to take some time to do the engineering and specs, and said the park will most likely be done in phases, to ensure money is secured each step of the way.
“This is important to that community,” Schneiderman said. “I always thought a community called Riverside should be able to access the riverside. They’re right there on the Peconic River and you wouldn’t know it.”