The Riverhead Town Board during a special meeting on Jan. 2. Photo: Denise Civiletti

The newly reconstituted Riverhead Town Board, led by the new Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar, took its first steps into the new year yesterday morning with both a special meeting and a work session.

The board appointed members of the new supervisor’s staff: Deputy Supervisor Denise Merrifield and executive assistant to the supervisor Devon Higgins and approved resolutions setting the terms and conditions of their employment by the town. Merrifield will earn an annual salary of $82,694, plus benefits. Higgins will earn an annual salary of $65,384, plus benefits.

The board yesterday also accepted the resignation of town board coordinator Kristen Hunt after just five months on the job. Hunt was appointed to the post on Aug. 6, following the resignation in June of her predecessor, Karen Levasseur.

Kelley McClinchy of Manorville took the podium to renew a request she and her neighbors have made in the past for a public water extension in the area, where some residents’ private wells in 2016 were found to be contaminated with MTBE.

“We’re looking forward to having cooperative, constructive conversations this year to get this moving forward,” McClinchy said.

At the work session following yesterday’s special meeting, the only agenda item was the review of resolutions for the Jan. 7 town board meeting.

Four of the resolutions in the packet, held over from 2019, are not ready for board action and should be removed from the agenda, town attorney Robert Kozakiewicz told the board. They involve three topics: a parking ban on Sound Avenue; the release of easements on certain properties in Wading River, south of Route 25A and west of Wading River-Manor Road; the rescission of a September 2017 resolution incorporating certain roads into the Town of Riverhead highway system pursuant to N.Y. State Highway Law Section 189 (“Highways by Use”).

There were also a number of resolutions missing from the resolution packet. The first meeting of each new year is the board’s organizational meeting, at which it takes care of a slew of annual housekeeping tasks. These include setting salaries of elected officials and employees, setting fees and authorizing certain kinds of expenditures.

Missing from the Jan. 7 packet before the board at yesterday’s work session were resolutions designating the town’s official depositories (banks) for doing business, designating the town’s official newspaper, approving expenditures of the highway superintendent to purchase equipment and tools up to a certain amount (last year, $75,000) without prior town board approval, setting fees for use of recreation and other town facilities, setting fees for towing and storage, and adopting a procurement policy.

After the meeting, Aguiar said she understood there were several resolutions that would be added to Tuesday’s agenda.

We need your help.
Now more than ever, the survival of quality local journalism depends on your support. Our community faces unprecedented economic disruption, and the future of many small businesses are under threat, including our own. It takes time and resources to provide this service. We are a small family-owned operation, and we will do everything in our power to keep it going. But today more than ever before, we will depend on your support to continue. Support RiverheadLOCAL today. You rely on us to stay informed and we depend on you to make our work possible.

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.