Workers and volunteers cleared shrubs, brush and trees from the area around the station platform on Railroad Avenue today. The town is seeking volunteers to help plant this area on Saturday morning. Photo: Denise Civiletti

Riverhead Town is seeking volunteers to help with a clean-up and planting project at the Riverhead railroad station.

Volunteers should meet at the train station at 9 a.m. on Saturday and are asked to bring their own shovels and gloves.

The effort is being organized by Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith, who has been negotiating with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority about making improvements to the station house building and surrounding area, including the platform shelter.

MTA workers, Riverhead Town Highway Department workers and volunteers from Home Depot cleared out bushes and trees from the area in front of the ramp and platform near the waiting area.

The work today “really opened it up,” Jens-Smith said. “The walkway and ramp to the platform were obscured by the overgrown bushes. Now they are much more visible and it’s a lot easier to see everybody,” she said. “It looks pretty good so far.”

These plants and trees were removed today to make the ramp and platform visible from the street.
File photo: Denise Civiletti

The MTA just finished repointing all the brick on the building,” the supervisor said. The agency also replaced the plexiglass on the platform shelter, so that the interior of the shelter is visible from the street.

“Cameras are going up in the next week or so,” she said.

Home Depot has donated plants for a new landscape plan that was developed by Cornell Cooperative Extension, Jens-Smith said.

“I’ve asked the chief [of police] to come up with a comprehensive policing plan
for the downtown area, including the railroad station. I’m hoping to have that by the end of the month.”

The area around the  railroad station has long been a trouble spot in terms of criminal activity and incidents requiring police response.

The circa 1910 station house has not been used by the railroad in decades, as either a ticket office or waiting area. The MTA spent about $1 million to renovate the 1,500-square-foot building in the early 2000s and is once again looking to find a tenant for the space. It previously leased the building to the town on the condition that it be occupied by the town or sublet to a nonprofit organization. The building was very briefly used by the Riverhead Business Improvement District in 2002, and then by a local soup kitchen to distribute sandwiches in 2009; it has otherwise remained vacant. 

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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.