Riverhead officials plan to start construction this month on the eastern part of the remaining portion of an 8.9-mile walkable athletic trail around the Enterprise Park at Calverton that is expected to feature bird-watching platforms and provide residents with a safe area to stroll, jog, ride bicycles and otherwise enjoy the outdoors.
Construction on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Trail started in 2008. The final cost for the first part of the trail, 3.2 miles, was $200,000, half of which came in grant funding from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
In March, the Riverhead Town Board approved several resolutions to accept grants totaling $850,000 in improvements.
“Project costs for the trail once completed are expected to be around roughly $1 million, according to Chris Kempner, director of Riverhead’s Community Development Agency.
Riverhead Town Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said project officials expect construction to begin in two to three weeks on the eastern side of the property. Giglio is the town board’s liaison for Riverhead’s Alternative Transportation Committee, which has worked on getting state and county funding for the trail.
“The trail is a very valuable asset to the residents of the town of Riverhead,” Giglio said. “And it will bring a lot of people to town that maybe will shop in the stores and eat in the restaurants and stay in the hotels.”
In December, the town received about $500,000 in funding as part of a grant from the state’s Environmental Protection Fund. A previous $150,000 state grant and a $200,000 Suffolk County grant make up the rest of the construction funding trail’s construction.
Giglio said construction can’t start before the town gets a surveyor to provide a metes and bounds description — which outlines the trail’s boundaries — of the area so the town can facilitate getting an easement for all county and state residents to use the trail. She said project officials plan to complete the trail in time for Veterans Day on Nov. 11.
Town Councilman John Dunleavy told Newsday in March that the idea for the trail came about several years ago as a way to provide a safe space for residents — particularly seniors — to walk and hike.
“Older people wanted to be safe instead of being on the road, and they came to us and asked us if we could make it,” Dunleavy said.
Town board members previously suggested dedicating the trail to Vietnam veterans to honor the town’s veterans for their military service.
When the trail is complete, Giglio said she envisions it will bring “free recreational activities that are safe and secure for our families and seniors and veterans, and everyone that uses it.”
Several local biking and running clubs have supported grants for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Trail at EPCAL, which will be constructed over an abandoned gravel vehicular path that was cleared and developed in the 1950s by the Grumman Corporation.
8.9 — Total miles once trail is completed
5.7 — Remaining trail miles to be constructed
$850,000 — Grants to construct trail
Nov. 11 — Planned completion date, to coincide with Veterans Day