Riverhead officials met yesterday with state historic preservation officials to discuss their plan to demolish a blighted building at 117 E. Main St., one of two the town would like to raze to make way for the proposed town square.

State historic preservation officials visited Riverhead’s Main Street historic district yesterday to inspect one of the buildings the town intends to demolish for the creation of its planned town square.

They met with town officials and Assemblywoman Jodi Giglio, who arranged the visit.

“It was a very productive meeting,” Giglio said yesterday afternoon.

Supervisor Yvette Aguiar, Community Development Administrator Dawn Thomas, Landmarks Preservation Committee Chairman Richard Wines, and staff from the town community development and engineering departments met wet with the visitors from the State Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

Giglio said Deputy Commissioner for Historic Preservation Daniel McKay and State Historic Preservation Office staff members Beth Cumming and Robyn Sedgwick came for the tour, which the Riverhead Community Development office coordinated.

Assemblywoman Jodi Giglio and Supervisor Yvette Aguiar on Main Street yesterday for meeting with state historic preservation officials. Courtesy photo: Town of Riverhead/Joseph Maiorana

The building at 117 E. Main St. was designated a “contributing resource” when the Main Street historic district was listed in the National Register in 2012. The building was a contributing resource because of its facade and front windows, according to Wines. It is one of three buildings the town recently bought from Riverhead Enterprises with the intention of tearing two of them down.

The town is now seeking to have the building removed as a contributing asset. But it needs the State Historic Preservation Office to agree, so state and federal grants the town hopes to obtain would not be jeopardized.

“When the district was set up, the building still had the original facade on it and the windows are typical of 1950s architecture,” Wines told RiverheadLOCAL earlier this month. “The facade has since fallen off and was replaced,” he said. “The rest of it is in pretty bad shape.” Wines said he is in full support of the removal of this building for the town square.

Thomas, who has taken the lead on the town square project, said the state officials “fully understand the issues” and “appreciate our concept and believe we can work together.” The state wants to make sure the historic character of Main Street is incorporated into the town square, Thomas said.

“They’re concerned about having a large gap there,” Thomas said. “There doesn’t have to be a building there. You can build a seat wall or maybe an iron archway,” she said. similar to the one a few paces to the east. The idea, she said, is to “maintain the visual plane the buildings create.”

A spokesperson for the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation historic preservation staff had “a productive conversation with town officials about ways the town could refine the project to mitigate impacts” of the demolition on the historic district.

“We look forward to formally reviewing final plans,” public information officer Dan Keefe said this afternoon.

Thomas said the town square design is in a very preliminary stage and the town can certainly incorporate the state officials’ thoughts. The town has already been discussing the idea with Barry Long of Urban Design Associates, which is working with the town to develop a plan for the town square.

“We were super happy to get them to visit,” Thomas said.

Giglio said she was grateful for the visit. “They were knowledgeable, clear and gave great insight as to the importance of street scapes in a historic community,” she said.

“The Town of Riverhead representatives were receptive and understood the ideas that were presented,” Giglio said. “We have a clear path forward.”

Editor’s note: This article was amended after its initial publication to add a comment from a spokesperson for the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation provided after press-time.

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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.