The third phase of a multi-year effort to establish an interconnected trail system stretching from Long Island Sound to Peconic Bay in Southold and Greenport has received a boost with a $120,000 grant awarded to Southold Town.
The grant was part of $84.3 million allocated by the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council for 98 projects, several of them in Southold Town. That money, in turn, was part of $755 million in funding distributed by New York State through its Regional Economic Development Council initiative.
The money for the trail project will be used to remove dilapidated buildings and debris from a waterfront property, plant native species and create 0.3 miles of trail that will connect to portions previously constructed.
Nearly two years ago, Southold Town approved the conceptual plan for phase two of the project, which created a 3.9-mile stretch of looping trails from the Arshamomaque Preserve to the bay. The Bay to Sound project was originally approved in 2011.
• Southold Town also received $50,750 in funding for stormwater runoff remediation protection at Richmond Creek in Southold. The grant will allow the installation of stormwater management mechanisms, like gravel and a sand drainage swale, at the end of South Harbor Road to capture sediment and prevent it from entering Richmond Creek and Peconic Bay.
• North Fork Authentic was awarded $150,000 to establish a North Fork regional brand to support local agritourism and products. A website will be developed as a resource for information about the North Fork. Further information on the business and its goals was unavailable.
• The Peconic Land Trust also received substantial funding, including $500,000 as part of its New York State Grown and Certified Agricultural Grant program. This grant provides money for Long Island farmers who need to make capital investments in order to meet the food safety requirements for participation in the NYS Grown and Certified program.
The land trust also received $2.3 million for its Regional Aquifer Protection Land Acquisition Program, which will develop a source water protection program. In its first year, the program will purchase 85 acres in Brookhaven Town, protecting land within the Peconic Estuary Watershed, Forge River Watershed and South Shore Estuary Reserve.
• East End Tourism Alliance was awarded $187,000 for its Craft Beverage Promotion Weekends, a series of thematic weekend events that cross-market craft beverages and local farm products with other cultural or tourism assets. Each weekend will have a specific theme, like art, history, literature or music.
• Harbor Lights Oyster Company of Greenport received $300,000 to revitalize 4.3 acres of waterfront and create a viable aquaculture business with oysters as the cornerstone.
• The Long Island Wine Council received $150,000 for Wine Tourism Marketing Project, which is a marketing plan aimed at millennials in order to capture more of the growing oenotourism market.
• The North Fork Promotion Council got $112,500 to initiate “train to trolley” services and promote awareness of the North Fork Trolley, which will run on weekends between May and November 2018.
The local grant awards faced some backlash. Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) released a statement saying that previously funded initiatives have failed.
“Today Gov. Cuomo once again tossed around millions of taxpayer dollars as if he was the host of a game show,” Mr. Palumbo said.
“This as two of his top aides face federal corruption charges related to investment in his previous failed economic development programs. The numbers do not lie, these initiatives have failed and produced a very minimal number of jobs in regard to the amount of taxpayer dollars being invested into these programs.”
Mr. Palumbo also called for greater transparency in the process of selecting grant recipients.
“Although I fully support investment in Long Island, I believe that it being done in this manner is troubling. We need greater oversight and transparency in the process, as well as proof that the funds are being spent properly and efficiently,” he said.