A proposal to ban parking on the length of Sound Avenue in Riverhead Town will be the subject of a public hearing before the Riverhead Town Board at its Aug. 20 regular meeting.
The proposal would prohibit parking on both sides of the east-west thoroughfare end to end, from Route 25A to the Southold Town line. Currently, there are parking restrictions in place two areas of Sound Avenue: on both sides of the road just west of Osborn Avenue, in the vicinity of the Riverhead Ciderhouse; and on the south side of the road just east of Route 105, opposite Briermere Farms.
Board members voted July 16 to set the hearing. Councilwoman Jodi Giglio was absent for the meeting, but at the prior work session objected to setting a hearing on the proposal.
“Normally when we do something that affects one major part of the community, we discuss it with them,” Giglio said. “Has this been discussed with them at all at the ag meetings and farm meetings?” she asked.
Councilwoman Catherine Kent, town board liaison to the agricultural advisory committee, said she discussed it with the members of that committee.
“We’ve been discussing it probably for the last year,” Kent said.
“I think it should be seen by the Farm Bureau first before we publish and post for a public hearing,” Giglio said.
“I’m sure they may want to come speak about it,” Kent said. “But it’s a safety issue. Last weekend at Lewin’s it was packed. There were parked cars right up to the edge — pedestrians, children in the road,” she said, referring to Lewin’s Farms in Wading River, which operates popular “U-Pick” operations as well as a farm stand.
It’s not clear that the proposed code change would address the parking at that particular farm, where there is an off-street parking area on the south side of Sound Avenue. Head-in parking is available for customers along the fence of the pick-your-own area. Officials didn’t say if that area is within the public right-of-way or on private property. Customers also parallel-park on the north side of the road. There is no shoulder on either side of the road.
“I understand the reason behind it,” Giglio said, “but I think out of respect for the farm community before we publish and post, we should discuss it with them.”
“I’ve been talking with them,” Kent reiterated.
L.I. Farm Bureau director Rob Carpenter said the organization was aware of the proposal but has “no opinion at this point.”
“The farmers are absolutely concerned about safety first and foremost. They would not want anyone hurt,” Carpenter said in a phone interview Friday.
“They are also concerned about how this what would affect their operations,” he said. “How far cars would have to be pulled off the road, for example. We’re still gathering opinions and still formulating our thoughts.”
Carpenter said it would be a problem if a restriction would take effect immediately.
“Farmers have already laid out their fields for the fall season,” he said. “Farmers can’t move their pumpkin fields or corn mazes. So hopefully if the town board decides to go forward, they’ll do it with some lead time.”
The two-lane scenic roadway stretches about 14 miles through the the Town of Riverhead. It is a heavily trafficked road, especially at the peaks of tourist seasons on the North Fork.
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