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Family Community Life Center Garners Support Before Zoning Change Hearing

The Family Community Life Center would bring a walking track, pool, youth services, 24/7 day care, senior programs, and affordable housing to the East End.

Rev. Charles Coverdale.
Rev. Charles Coverdale.

A plan that’s been years in the making for a proposed Family Community Life Center in Riverhead, a multi-use facility that would benefit the entire East End, got a major boost forward on Monday as elected officials spoke out in favor of the project.

And some backed up their support with big bucks: Sandra Dunn, representing the Amy and Horace Hagedorn Foundation, donated $25,000.

The proposed complex, planned by the First Baptist Church of Riverhead, encompasses a 68,830 square foot "community benefit district," including a community pool, media center/theater, a 24-hour childcare facility, a senior citizen wellness and day care center, and a sports and recreational compound. In addition, the plan calls for 132 one- and two-bedroom apartment units to frame the center complex, that would be used for workforce housing.

The facility would be sited on a 12-acre Northville Turnpike site owned by the church.

The outpouring of support comes two weeks before a public hearing during which the Riverhead town board will consider passing legislation for a new overlay zoning district that’s needed before the project can move forward.

Rev. Charles Coverdale and his wife Shirley, who have been advocating for the plan for years, said all of the FCLC facilities would be available for year-round use; the new Community Benefit District, "would answer the many needs of the East End community by creating a hub where families can come together to learn, live, work and play."

To move forward, 90 transfer of development right credits would be needed from Suffolk County; the county would also require that all units be dedicated to workforce housing.

The workforce housing would be sited on three levels, with units ranging from 800 to 1200 square feet, and the majority one-bedroom.

Politicians including U.S. Rep Tim Bishop and Suffolk County Executive Bellone joined Monday to back the project.

Bellone said the county would support the project, including financially. "The success of Riverhead is critical to the county's success. We look forward to all coming together at the groundbreaking."

Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter, long a proponent of the project, who has pushed for a public hearing for months, quoted the Bible and then said, "Folks, this is the appropriate time for this. This is the time God has selected. It is God's own time, and this is going to happen."

Walter also thanked Bellone for a recent $8 million grant from the county for the sewage treatment plant that will help facilitate the project. He told Bishop a gravity main was needed, too, as well as the transfer of development rights.

Walter added he'd do his best to get the zoning adopted by the end of the year.

Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst also backed the plan.

The Community Supporters and Stakeholders Breakfast was held at the Suffolk County Community College Culinary Arts and Hospitality Center on East Main Street.

Alex Badalementi of Baldassano Architecture gave a formal presentation on the project to a gathering of invited community supporters and stakeholders.

In late September, the Riverhead town board discussed a proposed community benefit zoning district; the CBD could be used as an overlay district that would permit the construction of clustered multi-family rental dwelling units that would be workforce housing for young families, professionals and seniors.

The public hearing on the new CBD district will be held at Riverhead Town Hall on Nov. 6 at 2 p.m.

Shirley Coverdale said while eastern Long Island was a lovely place with pristine beaches, open space, and a rich agricultural heritage, "These are not our most valuable assets. It is our families that are our most treasure assets. Without families, the community cannot survive."

Moving forward,  fundraising, a gift initiative, grant opportunities, a gift in kind program, and a planned giving concept, with wills, legacy, and bequests, would ensure future sustainability.

A video was shown of a wide range of community leaders endorsing the project.


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