The hamlet of Riverside, along the banks of the Peconic River across from downtown Riverhead, has long suffered from lack of investment in the community, and one of the biggest things that residents have said they want is to have public access to the river that gives the community its name.

This Wednesday, May 28, the neighborhood got its number one request in the Riverside Revitalization Action Plan, adopted by the Town of Southampton more than a decade ago — a 14-acre park at the edge of the river.

The Riverside Maritime Trail Park, owned by Suffolk County but managed by Southampton Town, now has a parking area and handicapped-accessible trails accessed from Flanders Road, meandering alongside the river from just east of the Riverside McDonalds, passing by three coves and moving through phases of successional and mature woodlands, an undulating shoreline that is a haven for wildlife.

A second phase in the works will provide a kayak launch and a fishing pier.

In 2018, the Flanders, Riverside & Northampton Community Association (FRNCA) won a $50,000 Environmental Justice Grant from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to begin design work on the park, and in October 2023 the town hired The LandTeK Group Inc. for $511,754 to begin construction of the woodland trail portion of the project, using money awarded in 2021 through a state Local Waterfront Revitalization Program grant program

“This was number one! You all said we have no access to the river,” said FRNCA President Angela Hunault at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, adding tearfully that the Southampton Town Board the previous evening had also given final approval to the creation of a sewer district in Riverside, and had agreed to make parking at Wildwood Lake by permit only, year-round. “Revitalization is coming! We got everything we asked for.”

The cove that will be the future site of the kayak launch in the park.

“I’m so proud to be able to lift this community up,” said Southampton Town Supervisor Maria Moore, who promised that the next phase of construction of the park would include the kayak launch and fishing station.

Southampton Councilman Tommy John Schiavoni added that the town has also invested in the purchase of property to the east of the park, and is preserving the former Goodale property and Methodist Point in Flanders.

“We will continue to make the river accessible to the people of Riverside,” he said.

He added that the town is also investing in helping to build Habitat for Humanity homes in the neighborhood and rebuilding the Head Start building on Flanders Road owned by the town.

He added that the sewer district will not only help to mitigate nitrogen entering the Peconic Estuary, but will also enable smart development on projects that will pay much-needed property taxes in the Riverhead Central School District.

Southampton Town Supervisor Maria Moore leads the walk through the park.

“This wouldn’t be possible without FRNCA,” added Councilman Michael Iasilli. “It’s so important that the community participates in these projects.”

Councilwoman Cyndi McNamara added that she thinks it’s important that the park has been made fully accessible according to Americans With Disabilities Act standards.

“Things get done when we work with others,” added Suffolk County Legislator Ann Welker, who represents the South Fork, though Riverside was recently removed from her legislative district. “It’s representatives at the local level that really make this happen.”

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Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at

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