Artist's rendering of riverfront 'town square'. Image courtesy of Town of Riverhead

Riverhead Town came up empty again in the competition for a $10 million downtown revitalization initiative grant.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo this afternoon announced that Baldwin in the Town of Hempstead has been picked as the Long Island winner in the fourth round of the downtown revitalization initiative program.

One municipality from each of the state’s 10 regional economic development regions is selected for a $10 million downtown revitalization grant.

“With this competition we are challenging local governments to come up with a comprehensive plan to revitalize their downtowns, and Baldwin did exactly that,” Cuomo said in a press release. “This plan builds on Baldwin’s existing assets including the LIRR and focuses on transit orientated development to drive economic growth in the region. It is not only ambitious and innovative – it is actually going to happen. And when you put boldness together with feasibility, that is magic,” the governor said.

Riverhead was a finalist in this year’s competitive grant program — as it was last year and in 2016.

“While we were not selected I want to thank our community development department for their efforts, those who believe in Riverhead so strongly they wrote us letters of support, and all those who trust in Downtown Riverhead’s potential for transformation,” Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said this afternoon.

“Riverhead will continue our efforts to revitalize our downtown, and will pursue every opportunity for funding to make this longtime goal of the Town and our residents possible,” Jens-Smith said.

There were seven criteria used by the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council in reviewing the applications, according to the governor’s press release:

  • The downtown should be compact, with well-defined boundaries;
  • The downtown is able to capitalize on prior or catalyze future private and public investment in the neighborhood and its surrounding areas;
  • There should be recent or impending job growth within, or in close proximity to the downtown that can attract workers to the downtown, support redevelopment and make growth sustainable;
  • The downtown must be an attractive and livable community for diverse populations of all ages, including existing residents, millennials and skilled workers;
  • The municipality should already embrace or have the ability to create and implement policies that increase livability and quality of life, including the use of local land banks, modern zoning codes and parking standards, complete streets plans, energy efficient projects, green jobs, and transit-oriented development;
  • The municipality should have conducted an open and robust community engagement process resulting in a vision for downtown revitalization and a preliminary list of projects and initiatives that may be included in a DRI strategic investment plan; and
  • The municipality has identified transformative projects that will be ready for implementation with an infusion of DRI funds within the first one to two years.

Baldwin joins Westbury, Hicksville (Oyster Bay) and Central Islip (Islip), which were the Long Island winners in the first three DRI rounds.

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.