Riverhead Town has added four new project proposals to the nine already being considered by the Local Planning Committee for funding through the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant announced by the state in January.
The new proposals were revealed this week during a meeting of the Local Planning Committee and a public information meeting that followed, both held Monday afternoon at the Suffolk Theater.
The Local Planning Committee is tasked with developing a strategic investment plan for the $10 million grant to maximize the impact of the funding for revitalization of downtown Riverhead. The committee will make its recommendations to the N.Y. Department of State, which will decide how the funding is distributed and monitor compliance with the strategic investment plan.
The committee is co-chaired by Riverhead Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar and former Greenport Village Mayor Dave Kapell, who is a member of the NYS Regional Economic Development Council. Its members include downtown property owners, business owners and community residents. The group is assisted by planning consultants hired by the state as well as representatives of the Department of State, which manages the DRI program, and Empire State Development.
The town’s new proposals include an East Main Street prototype project, streetscape improvements along Griffing Avenue from West Main Street to Railroad Avenue, wider implementation of the downtown wayfinding program, and a flood mitigation green infrastructure project in a portion of the Peconic River parking lot.
The East Main Street prototype project would improve a stretch of East Main Street between Roanoke and Maple avenues with “parklets,” bump-outs, raised crosswalks, street furniture, street trees, lighting, and green infrastructure. The funding amount sought for this proposal is yet to be determined.
The proposal for Griffing Avenue consists of streetscape improvements to enhance its “walkability,” such as improving pedestrian pathways, adding green infrastructure, street trees, lighting and street furniture. The funding request for this proposal is also yet to be determined.
The downtown wayfinding proposal would expand on the town’s existing wayfinding program, to design and implement signage to help people navigate the downtown district. The town is seeking $200,000 in DRI funding and will contribute $60,000 to the program.
The flood mitigation green infrastructure project would implement the recommendations of the Flood Plain Management Study prepared for the town by the Army Corps of Engineers to mitigate tidal surge and storm surge flooding in the Peconic River parking lot. The funding request for this proposal is also yet to be determined.
The “open call” proposals — made in response to an open call for proposals after the grant was announce — include proposals made by each of the private entities highlighted in the town’s DRI grant application: the Vail-Leavitt Music Hall ($1 million), the Long Island Science Center ($1.5 million), the Suffolk Theater ($3 million) and J. Petrocelli Development Associates, the town’s designated master developer for the town square project ($5.8 million).
In addition, RXR, the town’s designated master developer for the Transit-Oriented Development project on Railroad Avenue submitted a $5.3 million funding proposal, as did Riverhead Free Library ($55,000 for a new pedestrian entry) and Wayne Steck, developer of the Landmark of Riverhead mixed-use building on the site of the former West Marine store for a “pedestrianized street” ($1 million) i.e. conversion of the south parking lot entry roadway that runs between Steck’s building and Lucha Cubano into a pedestrian-only plaza.
There were two new “open call” proposals discussed at Monday’s meeting: a proposal from the East End Rowing Club for a boathouse facility with offices and bathrooms ($226,000) and a joint proposal from the Riverhead BID and East End Tourism Alliance for a downtown sculpture program ($250,000) to build several “lighting sculptures” created by local artists.
The Local Planning Committee is also charged with developing, with community input, a vision and goals for downtown revitalization. Projects are evaluated against that statement of vision and goals, explained Jeanette Rausch of the Department of State.
The LPC will develop a portfolio of projects for the strategic investment implementation plan, which will be submitted to the state in mid-July. The state will vet the projects and likely announce in September or October which proposals will be funded and the amount of the funding award, Rausch said.
Every project to be funded must meet the state DRI criteria as well as the community’s vision and goals, she said.
“Project readiness is really important,” Rausch said. “We want it ready to go.”
State funds are reimbursable, so each project sponsor must have “bridge funding” to implement the project, she said. DRI awards generally do not cover more than 40% of the project cost.
“We’re looking for projects that have a catalytic effect,” Rausch said. “These funds are really for revitalizing your downtown,” she said, noting that there are lots of other funding sources, including the state’s consolidated funding program.
The committee reviewed each of project proposals, all of which are still in a refinement process to enhance their chances of success in obtaining DRI funding. The consultants have identified questions and issues that require more information and attention and they reviewed each of them with the LPC and the public. For details see the public presentation on the DRI website.
The next working session of the LPC is scheduled for June 22.
The LPC working session #6 and the next public information meeting are tentatively scheduled for July 11 at a location to be determined. The public information meeting will begin at 6 p.m. These are potentially the group’s final meetings at which the strategic investment plan will be discussed before submission to the state.
“This is a very quick, fast process,” Aguiar noted.
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