With new $460K grant, Long Island Science Center a step closer to rooftop planetarium

The Long Island Science Center has received yet another large grant for its proposed rooftop planetarium and other features in downtown Riverhead. 

This time, the grant is for $460,000 and comes from the New York State Council for the Arts Capital Project Funds. It had previously received $1.12 million in grants from the State Economic Development Fund in 2021 and $775,000 in state grants in 2020. 

“It’s a huge step forward for us getting the planetarium done,” said Long Island Science Center executive director Cailin Kaller. 

The project still needs additional funds and the science center will continue to apply for funding, including a portion of the $10 million state Downtown Revitalization Initiative funds Riverhead Town was awarded this year. It’s seeking $1.5 million from the Town Square project.

The new grant will cover half the equipment costs of the project, Ms. Kaller said. 

The 100-seat, rooftop planetarium is expected to be the focal point of the proposed building planned at the former Swezey’s in downtown Riverhead.

The science center, currently housed at Tanger Outlet Center, will have education and entertainment programs for families and adults, including astronomy shows, documentaries and lectures.

“We are super excited, because it’s really something we need,” Ms. Kaller said. “There’s nothing else close by where you can go and visit a planetarium.”

LISC co-founder and board president Larry Oxman said the science center is a “cultural anchor point for Riverhead.”

“This will be the culmination of all we have been working toward for the past 25 years,” he said. 

The LISC purchased the vacant former Swezey’s in February 2020 with plans to renovate the 24,000 square-foot building, which will eventually connect to the Town Square project. 

Other features of the renovated LISC include a “makers space” featuring equipment beyond what might be found in a garage.

“It’s a way of getting people opportunities to be creative,” Ms. Kaller said.

The LISC also will have exhibits on the history of Long Island innovation, she said. 

“This type of initiative will serve as an educational asset for the entire family,” Riverhead Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said in a statement. “We are all excited to see actionable program on our Main Street.”