Hardy Plumbing
January 03, 2007

Kayak Launch for Riverside?


Another piece of the Riverside revitalization puzzle has fallen into place.

The Southampton Town Board passed a resolution last week accepting the transfer of a Baycrest Avenue property from the Southampton Board of Trustees.

The goal, said Southampton Town Supervisor Skip Heaney, is to transform the property, currently a parking lot, into a recreational opportunity for residents. It is located east of the Peconic Bridge area and abuts the Peconic River.

Heaney said he had applied to the New York State Department of State several years ago for grant funding to establish a "vest pocket park that would also have a canoe or kayak launch area."

That grant was successful, and the funds have been available to develop the parcel in the town's capital budget, but first a transfer of the property from the trustees to the town had to take place.

The parcel was originally acquired with open space funds. Much capital has been invested in transforming the Riverside area, which many believe has a lot of potential.

Another area ripe for redevelopment is the much-debated Grangebel Park. While residents in the area complain about unsafe conditions in the park and the presence of criminal activity after dark, elected officials in both Southampton and neighboring Riverhead have been working to come up with a plan that would revitalize the area and transform the park into a resource for residents. The park sits partially in both towns. Already, Southampton has purchased property that was once a tire store and razed the building to keep the area "looking better."

In the future, Heaney anticipates working with Suffolk County and Riverhead officials on a formal design of the Grangebel Park area. "There's a lot of general support for doing it," he said. Just removing the old tire building, "won the Town of Southampton a lot of accolades from residents and Riverhead officials. It was really unsightly."

As for the future, "The hope would be to undertake park development similar to what the Town of Riverhead has done on its side of the Peconic River in order to restore Grangebel Park to its once glory," said Heaney.

And, along with the proposed canoe or kayak launch, the town board voted last week to enter into a licensing agreement with the Riverhead School District and East End Rowing Club, which provides rowing instruction and team participation for underprivileged students.

"All we asked for was that they run a summer program for kids living in the Southampton portion of the Riverhead School District, who might not otherwise be introduced to the sport of rowing," said Heaney.

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