Flanders Riverside Northampton Community Association treasurer Vince Taldone, seen on...

Flanders Riverside Northampton Community Association treasurer Vince Taldone, seen on Feb. 1, 2017, is among the community members working to bring a trail and park to Riverside. Credit: John Roca

Southampton Town officials appear to be giving their support to local efforts to bring a trail and park to Riverside.

The Flanders-based civic group Flanders Riverside Northampton Community Association is trying to finance the first step toward creating a trail and preserving wetlands in Riverside with the January filing of a $50,000 state Environmental Justice Grant application.

The grant, which comes from the state Department of Environmental Conservation, would finance a full concept plan for a wetlands restoration proposal for the Riverside Maritime Trail and Park.

Ron Fisher, the civic group’s president, said the concept plan would ultimately fit one of the group’s goals of creating a walkable community with access to the Peconic River, which Riverside lacks.

“It’s something that we’re really passionate about,” Fisher said.

According to Fisher, the concept plan would outline how the group intends to restore the wetlands in the Riverside area and eventually start constructing a maritime trail on the river’s edge. He said the long-term goal of making the river an active location could provide both economic and environmental benefits for Riverside.

“Southampton is a maritime community, and the water is a driving force to the economy,” Fisher said. “So we feel that any success that we may get in Riverside is going to be based on activating that river.”

The Southampton Town Board voted at its Jan. 24 regular meeting to express its support for the group’s grant application. In the resolution, town officials point out that Riverside residents had “overwhelmingly” identified getting recreational access to the riverfront bordering the community as their highest priority, and the park fit into the town’s Revitalization Action Plan, which outlines a long-range plan to redevelop and revitalize the hamlet.

“You really can’t walk from the road to the waterfront,” said Southampton Town Deputy Supervisor Frank Zappone. “What we’re trying to do is create opportunities for waterfront access for the local community by creating walking paths from the road to the river.”

The grant application, which the group has been working on since October, has received support letters from local environmental civic groups such as Groups for the East End, the Pine Barrens Society and others.

The Flanders group has worked with Southampton Town’s grant writer, Jennifer Masiano, on its application. “A partnership with a municipality is viewed positively, so that strengthens the grant application,” Zappone said. “[The state will] know that the good faith of the town stands behind the commitment that the organization is making.”

The state agency will likely announce its decision by summer, he added.

On the waterfront

  • Plan would pave the way to create a park along a 14-acre parcel near the Peconic River area in Riverside
  • Park would be mostly woodland with walkways, picnic tables and benches
  • A boardwalk trail would provide educational displays about the river’s history and waterfront ecosystem

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