Members of the Flanders, Riverside, and Northampton Community Association responded with thumbs-ups and applause as Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said “Let’s move forward; let’s make this happen,” after seeing final plans for the future Riverside Park.
“We’ve continued to gather support from the town, which is wonderful,” said FRNCA president Ron Fisher. “This is the first municipal public investment in Riverside outside of the traffic circle. It’s the largest investment Riverside has seen in probably 50 years. I think this will bring people to the area, get others out of their houses, and bring a little water access to those that don’t have it.”
FRNCA received a $50,000 grant to create the concept plan for the 14-acre park with Araiys Designs. While $43,000 of that was earmarked for the plan, the other $7000 went toward hiring a Stony Brook doctor who created a health survey to hear from residents what they’d like to see at the park. The final plan reflected that along with results from three roundtable discussions.
Some design elements that were important included a walking trail, an elevated boardwalk, rest stations, a kayak launch area, and a bike bath. There will also be a large fishing pier and recreational space along the water. Some other construction details included lighting and wide walking paths to make the park feel more open.
“No one wanted to feel like they were stuck in the middle of the woods,” Fisher said. “There’s a sense of security that comes with that.”
The park is also Americans with Disabilities Act compliant, meaning the space is entirely handicap accessible. There will be a sensory garden for children, and educational areas to host classes along with a performing space.
“It’s been a great project. We’ve had a lot of fun,” said Steve Nieroda of Araiys Designs. “The idea is to open up views to the river through the park. We wanted to create a sense of use; create a sense of security, activity, and ultimately, pride as more people use it.”
Nieroda recommended constructing the park in phases, with the first coming in at $1,545,271 for site preparation, wetland buffering, program elements, and site amenities; and the second, $1,083,638 for shoreline remediation, garden and lawn plantings, and program elements.
Environmental stakeholders were brought in to see what native plants could be restored to the area. Around the asphalt parking lot will be permeable pavers and bioswales, and the main trail will be constructed of blue stone, which makes it environmentally friendly, as well as easier to maintain. The goal is to create a regional East-to-West trail to link to Flanders’s Peconic Trail. Because of FRNCA’s work, the Department of Environmental Conservation awarded the civic association $50,000 toward the construction plan phase.
“It’s been an honor to be the president of FRNCA during this time, to oversee the receipt of hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant money to help build this community that needs it the most,” Fisher said. “It’s been such an honor.”