Riverhead Town residents can look forward to numerous renovations and additions to their local parks and community centers.

Two resolutions passed by Riverhead Town Board this week authorized spending of $325,000 on renovations of eight outdoor recreation areas. The funding comes from the community benefit agreement the town signed with sPower for the Riverhead Solar I facility.

The projects were selected by the town board with input from the recreation advisory committee, open space committee, the recreation superintendent and town parks and recreation staff, taking into account public comments and requests. 

The improvements include new water systems for dog parks, upgraded playground equipment and hiking trails.

Veterans Memorial Park on Route 25 in Calverton. File photo: Denise Civiletti

One particular group was kept in mind during decisions for improvements to the parks: pickleball players. 

“Pickleball is the most popular sport we have in the town, believe it or not,” Riverhead parks and recreation superintendent Ray Coyne said. “We have a numerous amount of participants and honestly we’ve run out of room to put them. They have asked so many times for their own courts. This is the logical thing to do.”

The courts aren’t being constructed just yet, but Coyne hopes to see the courts installed and ready as early as March or April of 2020. 

“We are excited to do this for pickleball players. There are so many of them,” said Coyne. “They’re great people. They’re passionate. We really wanted to help them out. Getting this money and being able to do it for them is a homerun. ” 

Coyne says the rennovations aren’t only for current pickle-ball players, but everyone in the community. 

“It is really played by seniors, but it can be played by anybody. It is starting to be played by students in elementary schools across the country. We firmly believe that once people see the others playing, they’re gonna wanna play. The population as a whole will benefit from it.” 

Full list of renovations by park:
Bayberry Park aka Police Officers Memorial Park– improvements to playground including purchase of playground equipment and installation, improvements to fencing, placement of wood chips. 
George Young Community Center– improvements to playground including purchase of playground equipment and installation, improvements to fencing, placement of wood chips. 
Sharper’s Hill Property– addition of hamlet park, parking area, addition of walking trail, addition of handicap accessible walking trail, installation of kiosks and benches
Sound Avenue Nature Preserve– park improvements and preservation
South Jamesport Beach– resurfacing of pickelball/tennis courts
Stotzky Park– addition of water for dog park, resurfacing of pickleball courts/skate park
Veterans Memorial Park aka EPCAL Park– addition of water system for dog park, installation of at least two permanent pickle-ball courts with fencing and netting. 
Weeping Willow Park– park improvements and preservation

“Riverhead’s parks and open spaces have been neglected for too long,” Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said. “Residents have been calling for these changes for years now, as they’ve seen their recreation areas ignored due to lack of funding. New pickleball courts, playgrounds, walking trails, and improvements to our dog parks are being funded to answer those calls and meet the needs of our hamlets.”

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Julia-Anna Searson
Julia-Anna is a Riverhead native and a recent graduate of Stony Brook University, with a degree in Biology and minor in Anthropology. She currently lives in Cutchogue.