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2013 0509 zip line action

Riverfront zip line planned for downtown Riverhead, may begin operation as soon as next month

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Adventure-seekers may soon be traversing the Peconic Riverfront on an elevated zip line, if a plan by a Westchester company is embraced by the Riverhead Town Board.

Urban Jungle Zip Lines, of North Salem, N.Y., wants to stretch a 900-foot cable high above the riverfront, stretching from a 70-foot tower on the west — roughly opposite the Riverside McDonald’s — to a slightly shorter tower near McDermott Avenue.

Riders will be suspended by a nylon strap from the cable and fly from tower to tower at speeds of about 40 mph.

Urban Jungle owner John Finnegan would like to begin operations this summer.

Finnegan has been talking with Riverhead Councilman George Gabrielsen for about a year, the councilman told RiverheadLOCAL Wednesday. He said he hopes Urban Jungle will be able to install the attraction on the riverfront before next month’s cardboard boat races.

The proposal will need approval of a licensing agreement by the Riverhead Town Board, which has not yet had a public discussion of the idea. In fact, two council members reached for comment today said they hadn’t heard anything abou it. Councilman John Dunleavy said he knew nothing about it and declined comment. Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said she hadn’t heard about the plan, but thought it was “exciting” and she would like to hear more.

2013 0508 zip line riverfront gabrielsenGabrielsen said the plan would soon be aired at a town board work session. 

“I love it,” Supervisor Sean Walter said. He said he thought the project should have little trouble gaining approval by the board.

“We’ve been looking for an attraction for downtown to rival some of the things that happen in Greenport and other places so we can get our share of tourists,” Walter said. “A lot of things have been done to death, but not zip lines.”

The proposed zip-line season will run seven days a week through the end of October this year, unless popularity warrants an extension into the holiday season, Gabrielsen said.

Finnegan said he will work with the town board to establish hours of operation, though he expects the zip line will operate from late morning to about 10 p.m. at night “when the restaurant crowd is easing up.”

“We’re within two weeks of having everything squared away,” Gabrielsen said, adding the town is currently fashioning a license agreement between itself and Urban Jungle Zip Lines for use of the riverfront. Deputy Town Attorney Ann Marie Prudenti has been working on the agreement, he said.

The company would pay the town about $40,000 this season, Gabrielsen said.

“If we renew their lease for next year that number is guaranteed to increase, probably by about 10 or 15 percent. I insisted from day one that there had to be a public benefit to the town. But in addition to the revenue stream, we’re also promoting downtown big time with this thing,” Gabrielsen said.

2013 0508 peconic riverGabrielsen said Urban Jungle estimates the zip line would attract about 100 people per weekday and 200 per day on weekends. The waterfront location was chosen for its exposure. Other sites, including the Calverton Enterprise Park, were initially considered for the project, he said.

Finnegan said his summers in South Jamesport as a youngster and downtown Riverhead’s latest business bloom led him to pick a location in Riverhead and approach Gabrielsen with the idea.

“I have terrific memories of spending my summers as a kid in South Jamesport and when I was thinking about locations, the East End of Long Island came to mind,” he said.

“I have also been seeing so much revitalization beginning to happen here, especially with the Suffolk Theater this year and TheRiverheadProject last year – I want to be part of that revitalization.”

Riverhead BID President Ray Pickersgill, also a business owner in the immediate area of the proposed zip line site, said though the project stands to bring feet to Main Street, it could also pose parking problems.

“I see parking issues if a hundred people a day are coming to use this thing,” Pickersgill said.

“On one side it brings more people to Main Street, but with all the housing coming in, where are those people going to park? I know it doesn’t take long to ride a zip line, but we have a Chapter 90 [permit] to put the farmer’s market there, I don’t know how that’s going to work,” Pickersgill said.

Editor’s note: The original version of this story stated the length of the zip line was 1,000 feet, based on a graphic included in a video posted by the company on YouTube. A link to the video was also included in the story. Subsequent to publication, the company made the video private, so that it can be viewed by invitation only. We removed the video link. Company owner John Finnegan, subsequent to our initial publication, also provided RiverheadLOCAL with a new graphic (below) which indicates the length of the zip line is 900 feet, not 1,000 feet as indicated in the graphic included in the video.

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