At the June 18 town board meeting, multiple residents spoke passionately on their desire to bring a movie theater to Riverhead. These residents even presented the Town Board with a petition of well over 3,000 signatures from our neighbors who support this push to open a theater here in town. I could not agree more that Riverhead needs a movie theater, and since coming into office last year I have made multiple deliberate efforts to make this dream possible.
Upon taking office, one of my first actions was to reach out directly to multiple companies that operate movie theaters. I made clear our residents’ longstanding desire for a movie theater in Riverhead. As stated at the town board meeting last Tuesday, the town board is not opposed to new zoning that would allow a movie theater to operate along Route 58. And I am always willing to meet with movie theater representatives to make Riverhead’s case in person.
I believe in being clear, and not making empty promises. I know under the previous administration that there had been many promises made around a movie theater opening in the old Walmart building that ultimately did not pan out. I can only speak to my experiences when I say that the companies I spoke with told me that the demographics of our town were not yet where they wanted them to be in order to open a movie theater in Riverhead now.
I have not given up on this long-term project though. After witnessing the passion of those at our town board meeting I have renewed our push to bring a movie theater to Riverhead. Our families, our children, and all our seniors deserve a place where they can enjoy the movies right here in Riverhead.
I know that this will not be an easy fight, otherwise all those before me who promised a movie theater would have already gotten it done. What I will say is that I will try my best to make it possible, and I will always be honest with you about our chances.
Laura Jens-Smith is supervisor of the Town of Riverhead.
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