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Civic Supports Grant to Revamp Blighted Properties

Residents weigh in on what sites need sprucing up.

With an eye toward breathing life into long-blighted properties in the Riverside area, grant funding is being explored.

At a Monday meeting of the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Civic Associaton, Freda Eisenberg, Southampton Town assistant town planning and development administrator, discussed an opportunity to apply for a Brownfields grant, offered by the  New York State Department of State, that would identify Riverside as Brownfields opportunity area.

The grant, which would total approximately $100,000, would be garnered with a goal of trying to revitalize eyesores in Riverside.

Also, Eisenberg said, applying would mean the Town of Southampton would be "in the pipeline," and able to seek funding for future projects. "We're looking to get on the radar," she said.

One use for the grant funding, Eisenberg said, might be site-specific redevelopment analyses and market studies.

"We're very well aware that the town has been throwing money for studies at Riverside for years," Eisenberg said. "At this stage, we want to attract private sector development, but there are a few pieces missing."

An independent market study would allow experts to explore the area, perform an analysis, and identify businesses that could conceivably situate themselves in the area. "This will really help us shake the trees and recruit private sector investment," Eisenberg said. "Not just hoping people will come to us, but do active recruitment."

The grant funding would finance the study, Eisenburg said, as well as a redevelopment feasibility analysis.

Some businesses might be eyeing the Riverside area but are unable to secure financing, Eisenberg noted.  "We want to look at how much private financing we can attract, and what public programs are out there to bridge the gap," she said.

The grant would also help the town to identify future parcels for acquisition. 

Residents offered up some sites that might be prime for redevelopment, including the former Buick Pontiac parcel on Route 24.

"There's big opportunity here in this community," said FRNCA president Brad Bender.

Other blighted parcels include an old gas station near Wildwood Lake abandoned for over 30 years, old gas stations, and the at the Riverside traffic circle, residents said.

The civic association agreed to send a letter to the Town of Southampton in support of seeking the grant funding.

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