Zoning updates, Historical museum among projects selected for state grant funding

Two initiatives in Southold Town will be funded under the Regional Economic Development Council Initiative. The Town of Southold received one grant totaling $338,000 for use in land use and zoning updates. 

“The Town of Southold will analyze and update land use and zoning regulations to implement the community vision set forth in their Local Waterfront Revitalization Program and Comprehensive Plan,” according to an award booklet. “The updates will ensure future growth is sustainable and the regional economic drivers of agriculture, tourism, working waterfronts, and natural resources are protected, while maintaining a strong and healthy local economy.”

An additional $67,000 was awarded to the Southold Historical Museum to support the planning and implementation of a tourism marketing plan “with the goal to showcase on a regional, national and international basis, the significance of the Southold Historical Museum.”

The neighboring Town of Riverhead received two separate $200,000 grants from the state last week that will benefit riverfront projects in downtown Riverhead. 

The grants were part of the more than $22 million in funding issued to 76 communities in the Regional Economic Development Council Initiative, according to a release from Gov. Kathy Hochul. 

The funding comes from the Department of State’s Brownfield Opportunities Area program, which aims to clean up blighted areas. 

“This funding will help revitalize waterfronts, clean up and redevelop abandoned industrial sites and create environmentally sustainable neighborhoods — all key aspects [of] a thriving and vibrant community,” the governor said in a statement. “We are excited to see the positive impact this funding will have on these communities and their residents.”

The two specific projects that received grants last week are redevelopment activities to improve the “Riverfront Park and Adaptive Children’s Playground,” and also to initiate the “planning, design and engineering of an amphitheater along the Peconic River” adjacent to the planned Town Square.

The Town Square is described by officials as “a new public area and gathering space that can facilitate year-round activities and provide accessible pedestrian connections and vistas from Main Street to the Riverhead.”

The town previously purchased and demolished two vacant buildings on East Main Street to create the view from the Suffolk Theater to the riverfront. 

Officials said the amphitheater will create performance space and address flood mitigation for downtown. The venue “will increase activity and tourism on the riverfront” and further the economic revitalization of downtown Riverhead, officials said. 

The town is on a hot streak when it comes to grants. 

The state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative recently awarded $3.24 million toward the creation of the Town Square and $245,000 for the riverfront playground as part of a $10 million grant the town won last year. Funding for the amphitheater was recommended for the DRI grant, but not ultimately funded by that program.

The park “will address climate change-associated flooding and provide public gathering and event space, while protecting the Town Square” the governor said. 

“The project will provide healthy and safe activity to children of all abilities and will allow a central gathering space as part of the new Town Square to bolster Riverhead’s economic development,” according to the state.