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New Plan Laid Out for Riverside Sewers

Lisa Finn
Westhampton Patch

After years of discussion, final results of a sewer study for the Riverside area were brought to the public Monday night.

Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman set out to explain the new vision for the project and explain next steps.

Residents had some questions concerning what the end cost would be to implement the plan.

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Schneiderman attended the meeting of the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association at the David W. Crohan Community Center in Flanders, along with members of the Suffolk County Department Works, H2M, and CDM Engineering.

The meeting was the most recent in a series of many that have been held with community members over the past two years, as the public weighed in on infrastructure needed to help provide sewers and boost economic redevelopment in the area.

The public has said their aim is to promote commercial development while still focusing on improving water quality in the Peconic Estuary.

Although initially, the study area was much larger, including larger parts of Riverside, and also, Flanders, currently the revised study area focuses on redeveloping a section along the Route 24 corridor, where a supermarket would be built.

"This is the recommended alternative. This is where we are headed," said Mary Anne Taylor, an associate at CDM working on the project.

Originally, the hope was to tap into Riverhead Town's sewage treatment plant, but that idea was nixed after Riverhead Town saidtheir remaining capacity was reserved for downtown redevelopment.

Suffolk County Community College was also considered, but also had no capacity to spare.

To that end, the focus shifted to creating a new sewage treatment plant and system, with the objective being maximum nitrogen removal.

The Nitrex system was chosen for consideration because it offered the highest level of treatment before discharge into the Peconic, Taylor said.

A location for a potential treatment plant that could serve the Route 24 corridor was suggested for a town-owned property south of the police barracks on Vail Avenue, just before Pine Street.

A phased approach was suggested for the project, with a goal being to add a supermarket and reopen a long-shuttered restaurant as the Riverside traffic circle.

Costs for the first phase of the project only would be approximately $3.7 million, with grants necessary.

While many residents had questions about the cost of the project to those living n the new sewer district, Schneiderman said the 17 homes currently sited on the land would be replaced by commercial development and apartments.

"Part of the confusion is that we are going to have a Main Street, not the 17 properties," Schneiderman said. "One property might have several storefronts, and that's when the numbers start to make sense."

While the numbers might seem prohibitive for a single family residential home, "That's not what you would end up with," in the new district, Schneiderman said.

Southampton Town, he added, is studying the area for almost all commercial development where currently, many blighted and boarded-up buildings now stand.

In order to move forward, property owners would have to approve the new sewer district and say they want to redevelop. A private homeowner would have to decide if the concept made sense.

"Individual property owners have to do that analysis," Schneiderman said.

Property owners within the district would have to vote to approve formation of the district, after which would follow a draft and final engineering report, an environmental review process, public hearings — and then a public referendum, where the only property owners in the proposed district would be able to vote to establish the sewer district.

The county and state comptroller would then review and approve the development of construction documents. Next, Suffolk County and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation would review the contracts, documents, and permits, and finally, financing and construction would follow.

"Now the property owners have to decide if they want to move forward," Schneiderman said; it would also be necessary to see what grant money could be garnered.

FRNCA President Vince Taldone said Riverhead just "said no" to facilitating the Riverside sewer and asked Schneiderman if the county would ever take over operation of the Riverhead district.

Schneiderman said that wasn't an offer but that the county could potentially operate the new system.