07/31/13 5:00pm
07/31/2013 5:00 PM
JAY SCHNEIDERMAN COURTESY RENDERING | The footbridge that would cross the Peconic River and connect Riverside to downtown Riverhead.

JAY SCHNEIDERMAN COURTESY RENDERING | The footbridge that would cross the Peconic River and connect Riverside to downtown Riverhead.

The Suffolk County Legislature voiced its support Tuesday of Southampton Town’s application for state funding to build a pedestrian footbridge that would span the Peconic River and connect Riverside to downtown Riverhead.

The resolution, which was approved 16-0, allows the recently acquired county parkland in Riverside to be used as the southern terminus for the proposed bridge, and authorizes the county to take whatever steps are needed to facilitate the bridge plan.

The northern part of the proposed bridge would begin near the Long Island Aquarium on the Riverhead Town side of the river, officials said.

Approvals from Southampton and Riverhead towns would ultimately be needed as well.

Southampton Town also has applied for a $50,000 county grant to make a walking trail from Flanders Road to the river, at a point where the bridge would begin.

The estimated cost of the bridge is $1.145 million, according to county Legislator Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk), who sponsored the resolution. The state grant being sought allows the cost of land acquisition — which was already paid to the former property owner — to be used as a matching portion of the grant, so long as it was purchased in the past three years.

In this case, the $2.4 million land acquisition occurred in September of 2011, which puts it within that three-year window, and means that the entire $1.145 million cost of the bridge could be funded by the state grant if it is awarded for the project, Mr. Schneiderman said in an interview.

“It wouldn’t cost the county or the towns of Southampton or Riverhead anything,” he said.

The 14-acre parkland in question had been owned by Dede Gotthelf of Southampton, who had planned to built a hotel there, but her proposed plans got bogged down by environmental concerns and she sold the property to Suffolk.

The grant being sought has an Aug. 12 deadline for submission, so Mr. Schneiderman had to convince Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone to put the vote on the agenda through a certificate of necessity, allowing it to skip the committee process.

The Flanders Riverside and Northampton Community Association is already in support of the foot bridge, said Vince Taldone, the group’s president.

“We have these 14 acres that were acquired for parkland and now we’re looking to find what we can do with it,” he said. “How can we make the best use of it? Now is the time to start looking, because Southampton Town is seriously engaged in a revitalization effort for Riverside.”

The town has a Riverside economic development committee that is planning on issuing a request for proposals from developers with ideas on how to rebuild the beleaguered Riverside hamlet.

“We think one of the things that will make the area more attractive to investors is to have a beautiful park across the street” from a Main Street-like business district envisioned for Flanders Road, Mr. Taldone said in an interview.

“This would be a great addition to the kind of economic development and facelift we’re trying to bring to that area,” Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne Holst told the Legislature Tuesday. “It’s somewhat unique and a great attraction that would help both Riverhead and the Town of Southampton in the areas of Flanders and Riverside, which have been in some economic distress.”

Mr. Schneiderman recently unveiled a 3D computer graphic “vision” for Riverside at a FRNCA meeting, calling for the creation of a small downtown area near the traffic circle. The vision includes the walking trail and footbridge over the Peconic.

“I think this will become a landmark,” Mr. Schneiderman said of the proposed bridge. “People will get married on the bridge, and people will come to Riverhead just to walk on the bridge.”

EDITORIAL: RIVERSIDE PLAN WILL NEED MUCH SUPPORT

The legislator spent Wednesday measuring the height of the Route 105 bridge, which spans the Peconic River to the east, with some string he bought from Kmart to find out how tall the proposed footbridge would have to be.

At high tide, the Route 105 bridge was 27 feet above the water, so the Peconic River bridge would not need to be any taller than that in order to avoid obstructing boat traffic, Mr. Scheiderman said.

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04/19/13 4:05pm
04/19/2013 4:05 PM
DEC COURTESY PHOTO | These four gators were captured in the Peconic River Friday morning. A Manorville residents spotted the reptiles and contacted the DEC.

DEC COURTESY PHOTO | These four gators were captured in the Peconic River Friday morning. A Manorville residents spotted the reptiles and contacted the DEC.

Four alligators were captured from the Peconic River in Calverton by state conservation officers Friday morning, officials said.

State Department of Environmental Conservation officials said in a press release the reptiles — ranging 2- to 4-feet-long — were spotted by Frank Naase about 8 a.m. near a dock at the Connecticut Avenue canoe launch.

The Manorville resident, who officials said frequents the dock after his morning cup of coffee, immediately contacted the DEC after noticing one of the alligators floating by.

The alligators were lethargic due to the cold water they had been exposed to, and were transferred to DEC’s regional headquarters in Stony Brook and will ultimately be sent to the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead, officials said.

Lt. Dallas Bengel, left, and ECO Mark Simmons caught these gators Friday morning.

Lt. Dallas Bengel, left, and ECO Mark Simmons caught these gators Friday morning.

After catching a nearly 2-foot-long alligator with a catch pole, Lt. Dallas Bengel and Environmental Conservation Officer Mark Simmons observed three more alligators in the water and secured each of the animals with tape around their jaws, officials said.

Alligators are illegal to own as pets in New York. People planning to use them for exhibition, research or educational purposes are require to obtain a DEC permit, officials said.

Friday’s incident occurred a week prior to Long Island’s first illegal reptile and amphibian amnesty day.

The DEC has partnered with the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to allow for a “one-time only amnesty program,” where people can anonymously bring their illegal or unpermitted reptiles and amphibians without fear of prosecution.

Species that do not require permits, or are not threatened or endangered will not be accepted.

DEC Regional Director Peter Scully said in a press release he hopes residents will take advantage of the program.

“Alligators released into Long Island waters have become an all too common occurrence in recent years,” Mr. Scully said. “Unfortunately, individuals who attain these animals often find themselves incapable of caring for them as they grow, and they ultimately release them into the waters of Long Island where they are unable to survive and may pose a risk to recreationalists.”

The program will take place at Sweetbriar Nature Center, 62 Eckernkamp Drive in Smithtown, on April 27 from noon to 4 p.m.

To report any environmental crime, contact DEC’s hotline at 1-800-TIPP DEC (1-800-847-7332) or Dispatch number at (631) 444-0250.

Officials said calls will be kept confidential.

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01/06/13 8:00am
01/06/2013 8:00 AM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Foreman Sam Parris of Hinck Electrical Contracting of Bohemia at work on the town's riverfront dock Friday.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Foreman Sam Parris of Hinck Electrical Contracting of Bohemia at work on the town’s riverfront dock Friday.

Downtown Riverhead is seeing 27 superstorm Sandy-damaged power and water stations replaced along the riverfront boardwalk.

The units were deemed inoperable after high waters from the Peconic River corroded the wires, workers said.

The replacement of the power stations will cost about $20,500, engineering department officials said. The town is hoping to get reimbursed, at least in part, from FEMA for the expense.

Town officials met with FEMA about a month ago and gave them a preliminary list of town properties which were damaged, officials said.

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11/28/12 12:31pm
11/28/2012 12:31 PM
GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Southampton police divers search the Peconic River.

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Southampton police divers search the Peconic River.

Southampton police divers are searching the Peconic River for a handgun believed to used in a recent rash of armed robberies that have spanned the North Fork.

Police also have three men in custody whom they believe are responsible for at least four separate stickups in Riverside, Riverhead and Mattituck over the last month, said Southampton police Sgt. Lewis Scott, who was on the scene Wednesday morning.

Members of the Southampton Town Dive Recovery Unit started scouring the river behind McDonald’s in Riverside about 10:30 a.m. after receiving information that the handgun used in the robberies was dumped in the water, Sgt. Scott said.

Even if police recover a gun, they will keep searching the river bottom until they’re confident every inch had been covered, he added.

Police have not yet released the names of the men in custody.

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GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Members of the Southampton Town Dive Recovery Unit along the banks of the Peconic River Wednesday .