Concept rendering of potential design of town square on East Main Street. Image courtesy of the Town of Riverhead

Riverhead Town is moving ahead with the purchase of two buildings on the south side East Main Street and an option to purchase a third building for the creation of a town square.

The town board on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the purchase from Riverhead Enterprises the buildings at 117 East Main Street for $1.25 million and 121 East Main Street for $950,000. The resolution also authorizes an option agreement to purchase 127 East Main Street for $2.65 million from the same seller. The town will pay $50,000 for the six-month option.

The board also unanimously approved a second resolution authorizing $5.5 million in bonding to cover the purchase price of the buildings and demolition costs.

““This is going to jump-start the revitalization of our downtown area,” said Councilwoman Catherine Kent, the board’s liaison to the downtown revitalization committee.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio agreed. “This is a very important step to get rid of these blighted buildings that have been plaguing downtown for a very long time,” Giglio said. “I think it’s going to be a great project.”

Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said the town board is “proud and happy to move this forward.

The authorization to purchase the buildings is subject to favorable appraisals and environmental inspections and assessments of the properties.

The resolutions are subject to a permissive referendum. A petition signed by 10% of Riverhead residents who voted in the most recent election for governor can force a vote on the acquisition of the properties and the borrowing to support it. In Riverhead, where 11,882 people, voted in the 2018 governor election, a minimum of 594 signatures are needed to force a town-wide vote. Under state law, the petition must be filed with the town clerk within 30 days of the adoption of the resolutions; in this case, Sept. 3.

The town plans to use an $800,000 Long Island Regional Economic Development Council grant for the town square project. It is also seeking approximately $613,474 in “old” Drinking Water Protection Program 12-D funding for the project.

The plan calls for razing the buildings at 117 and 121 East Main Street to create the town square, with some small development pads running along each side. The building at 127 East Main Street, if purchased by the town, would remain in place.

The town square would connect the riverfront to Main Street, creating a public green space. The concept has been recommended by past planning studies and advocated by elected officials for years.

The town board held a public hearing on the proposed purchase and bonding on July 21. The plan received a generally favorable response from the public.

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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.