Pictured Above: An artist’s rendering of the proposed town square project released by Riverhead Town in 2020.

Riverhead Town is embarking on a public input process in the coming weeks for its proposed Town Square in downtown Riverhead.

The process began last week with two days of meetings with consultant Urban Design Associates (UDA) between town board members, Community Development Department staff and stakeholders in the revitalization of downtown Riverhead, including businesses, property owners, the Chamber of Commerce and the Business Improvement District.

The board and consultants will begin soliciting input from the public at virtual public Zoom meeting on Thursday, April 1 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. The meeting will include an opening and closing session for all participants, as well as smaller breakout rooms according to specific topics of interest.

A link to the Zoom meeting will be on the town’s website.

The public input process will continue for six to eight weeks, as the town prepares to submit grant applications for federal and state funding, due by the end of May.

The process will include a website generated through Social Pinpoint, a configurable digital community engagement platform designed to generate public participation in planning projects.

The website will be linked to the townofriverheadny.gov, www.riverheadrecreation.com, www.riverheadchamber.com, www.downtownriverhead.org/riverhead-bid and www.riverheadida.org. It will feature interactive maps and will enable participants to leave feedback, attach photos of suggestions and submission of ideas. Community engagement will consist of a digital survey.

After Riverhead was awarded an $800,000 grant from the Empire State Development Corporation in February of 2020, the town leveraged $612,000 in Suffolk County water quality funding and $400,000 in Suffolk County Jump Start funding to enter into contracts to acquire the three parcels that will result in the Town Square.

The buildings located at 117 and 121 East Main Street — the former Swezey’s Furniture Annex and the building housing Twin Fork Bicycles — will be demolished, while 127 East Main Street would remain in place, although it will be renovated.

The bike shop, which had been on Main Street since 2012 after relocating from Osborn Avenue, had been a bright spot in an otherwise struggling downtown. It closed last fall, as owner Nick Attisano told the press his business been blindsided by the sale and demolition of his building and he had no plans to relocate.

The Long Island Science Center, currently in the ground floor of the Summerwind building at the corner of East Main Street and Peconic Avenue, plans to renovate and expand a building at 111 East Main Street that will be adjacent to the new town square. The science center received $775,000 from in Empire State Development funding in the same round as the town’s funding for the square last year.

“The town board has worked diligently and cooperatively to advance the Town Square concept, which will consist of a public gathering space, pedestrian connectivity and open vistas from Main Street to the riverfront,” said Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar at a press conference March 22 announcing the public outreach. “The primary goal of this project is to reorient the pedestrian focus from the traditional Main Street to the Peconic Riverwalk.”

The town also intends to repurpose some existing town-owned riverfront parking as public gathering spaces, which may include performance spaces, splash fountains and permeable brick/stone pathways interspersed with rain gardens.

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 editor@eastendbeacon.com

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