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Jul 23, 2014 11:13 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Cuomo Approves Land Swap That Could Pave Way For Riverside Traffic Circle Expansion

Jul 23, 2014 11:23 AM

Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed off on legislation approving a land swap between Southampton Town and Suffolk County, a deal that will allow for the future expansion of the Riverside traffic circle—assuming that town residents also ratify the exchange in a public referendum this November.

The upgrade is viewed as a necessary step in the ongoing revitalization of the hamlet’s business corridor.

In the swap, which was approved by Mr. Cuomo on Tuesday, the town will give the county a one-sixth of an acre parcel of parkland that sits at the northwest part of the traffic circle, along the Peconic River. In return, the town will receive a one-third of an acre piece of county-owned parkland that lies just west of the traffic circle, also along the river.

The county needed to obtain the land near the circle to execute the planned expansion of the traffic circle into a two-lane, oval-shaped roundabout—steps that officials hope will alleviate traffic congestion near the border between Southampton and Riverhead towns, according to Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman.

The $4 million reconstruction project is tentatively scheduled for 2016 and included under the Suffolk County Department of Public Works capital budget. The revitalization effort also calls for a sewage system expansion project that’s expected to cost $2 million, as well as the Albany-funded repaving of State Road 24, also known as Flanders Road, leading up to the circle.

“That’s a necessary part of reconfiguring the circle up in Riverside, so traffic can flow,” Mr. Schneiderman, a proponent of revitalization in the town’s northwest hamlets, said of the land swap. “We’ve had terrible problems with traffic there and it’s likely going to get worse if we don’t do something about it.”

State approval is necessary for land exchanges between municipalities, Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele said, adding that before the swap can be finalized, Southampton Town voters must still pass a referendum in November.

Mr. Thiele was a sponsor of the state legislation to approve the swap.

“It still requires a public referendum in November, but it was a pleasure working with the town and the county to get this done,” he said.

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