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The Town-owned facility at 271 Flanders Road in Riverside, long the home of the LI Head Start Program, will get an expansion and an additional occupant, the Children’s Museum of the East End (CMEE).
CMEE, based in Bridgehampton, has been offering limited programming in the Riverside community for several years, using a small office space provided by Riverside Rediscovered on Peconic Avenue in Riverside. The programs offered by CMEE in Riverside were very popular, but because of the limited space, the program offerings were limited and registration was constrained. Southampton Town has been searching for a larger space so that CMEE could offer more expanded programming, have access to exhibition space, and operate programming throughout the year.
After several options explored by the Town failed to materialize, the Town initiated discussions with the director of the Head Start program to see if it were feasible for both organizations, who serve the same 3 to 5 year old audience, could effectively co-occupy the facility at 271 Flanders Road without diminishing any of Head Start’s programs or services. Those discussion lead to a two phase solution.
The first phase called for some internal renovations that would create approximately 1000 sq. ft. of space dedicated entirely to the CMEE programming. Those renovations are now completed and CMEE expects to begin programming in January, 2022. According to CMEES’s acting Director, Liz Bard, the biggest challenges CMEE faces with expanded programming is finding staffing. But, she was confident that January, 2022 was a realistic start date.
The second phase, and the target for this grant funding, will be to enclose an existing courtyard adjacent to the space created by phase one. The expansion will add approximately 1000 additional sq. feet, giving CMEE a bit over 2000 sq. ft. of exhibition and programming space. The $120,000 in grant monies provided through New York State Empire State Development will fund 20% of the total cost of the expansion project.
“Head Start and CMEE are two wonderful programs for children. The Town is very pleased to be able to support both in Riverside,” said Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman. Councilman Tommy John Schiavoni added, “Having the Children’s Museum of the East End move in with the Head Start Program is a benefit to the Flanders and Riverside Community. We anticipate that both programs will complement each other and thrive. The Town is proud to upgrade the facility to make this opportunity possible. “
Bringing the children’s museum to Riverside is one of the action goals imbedded in the Riverside Revitalization Action Plan adopted by the Town in 2015.