Islands in the municipal parking lot north of East Main Street would be removed to reconfigure the lot to create more parking stalls. Photo: Denise Civiletti

Riverhead officials are looking to move forward with a parking plan proposed by the parking district advisory committee five years ago that would add about 60 downtown parking spaces by reconfiguring and re-striping surface parking.

The plan was developed by architect Martin Sendlewski in 2013. It would require removing the existing islands in the north parking lot between East and Roanoke avenues, which would be resurfaced and re-striped.

Sendlewski’s plan was reviewed by the planning consultants recently hired by the town to devise an implementation plan to increase downtown parking, working with various studies the town has already completed. The planning firm gave the Sendlewski proposal its blessing, Riverhead Community Development Director Dawn Thomas told the town board during yesterday’s work session.

The engineering department estimates the cost of the project at about $155,000, Thomas said.

Thomas asked the board’s consent to apply for a Suffolk County downtown revitalization grant to cover half the cost. The county grant requires a local match, which would be mostly covered by Community Development Block Grant money of $40,000 and contribution from the Riverhead Parking District of $30,000.

“That’s where we’re putting the parking garage,” Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said, expressing concern about spending that much money to work on the surface lot.

Officials agreed that the addition of the 60 or so spaces would be a short-term fix.

“It’s not the ultimate solution,” Thomas said. “We will need 1,200 spaces at full buildout” downtown.

“I’m hoping to get this funded so we can get quick relief,” she said.

Implementation of the Sendlewski plan stalled both because of lack of funds and a concern by some board members at the time, including former supervisor Sean Walter, about losing the trees planted in the islands that would be removed to accomplish the reconfiguration. Councilwoman Catherine Kent expressed the same concern yesterday.

Other board members said they appreciate that concern but felt the need for more parking was more urgent than preserving the trees growing in the islands.

If the county funds the grant — a decision would come in December — work could commence next March, Thomas said.

The grant application is due May 25.

Correction: This article has been amended to correct the source of $30,000 in funding, which is coming from the Riverhead Parking District, not the Riverhead Business Improvement District Management Association, as originally stated.

This story is free to read thanks in part to the generous support of readers like you. Keep local news free. Become a member today.

Denise Civiletti
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.