The Riverhead Central School District's new transportation center is open for business on Edwards Avenue. Photo: Denise Civiletti

The Riverhead school district has relocated its transportation department to a new facility on Edwards Avenue in Calverton.

District employees are busy getting settled into the new facility and getting ready for the new school year.

“It’s very exciting,” transportation department co-director Leslie Moore said as he and co-director Collette Furcht showed off the new facility this morning.

There’s no comparison to the old facility,” Furcht agreed. “It’s really like night and day.”

The old bus garage was built as a horse barn in the 1920s. It was too small for the transportation department’s needs and would have required major investment to remain useful. The district established a committee to look at possible sites for a new facility. After first pursuing a site adjacent to Phillips Avenue Elementary School, which the voters rejected, the district identified the 6.8-acre owned by TS Haulers on Edwards Avenue, which was already improved with offices and a garage.

The old facility, a 1920s converted horse barn, is locked up and will be torn down in summer 2018. Photo: Denise Civiletti

The district bought the Edwards Avenue site in 2015 for $3.5 million. It renovated the building and constructed a 2,600-square-foot addition to the building at a cost of approximately $3.4 million. The cost was paid out of a capital reserve fund established with voter approval in May 2013. The acquisition and expenditures were approved by the voters the following year.

A public entrance leads to a small reception area with a window to the transportation department office. Employees use a separate entrance where they access their sign-in sheets at the dispatch desk. The department’s 97 bus drivers will move through the office picking up their fire extinguishers — stored in the office rather than on the buses after a vandalism incident a few years ago — keys and route sheets.

There’s ample parking for employees’ vehicles and for the district’s approximately 100 buses. The bus barn had almost no parking for employees. Its fenced yard was barely big enough to accommodate the fleet of school buses.

Employees parked “wherever we could,” Moore said. 

The building has a break room for the drivers and office staff that doubles as a training room, a conference room and a radio room. There’s a separate, smaller break room off the garage for the district’s mechanics.

The garage itself has overhead doors lining two walls, for ease of driving buses in and out — and for air flow. The garage has been equipped with two portable hydraulic lifts to allow the mechanics easy access to the underside of vehicles. The old garage had two sub-floor pits. The district also built a mezzanine storage area inside the garage.

A fueling station outside dispenses gasoline, diesel and propane.

“This is a facility that really meets the district’s needs and will continue to for a long time to come,” Superintendent Nancy Carney said today. “We’re really very pleased with how it turned out.”

“It’s long overdue,” Furcht said.

The old bus garage, located in the middle of the district’s central campus, will be torn down next summer, Carney said. The district plans to develop new athletic fields there.

“We saved an old horseshoe” from the old bus barn, Moore said. A horseshoe is a symbol of good luck and this one is a part of the transportation department’s history, after all.

“I’m going to polish it up and hang it over the entrance here,” he said.

RiverheadLOCAL photos by Denise Civiletti

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.