Riverhead Town will host a virtual meeting next week on the design of the proposed town square.
The meeting will take place on Thursday, Aug. 5 from 6 tp 7:30 p.m. via Zoom on Social Pinpoint, a configurable digital community engagement platform designed to encourage public participation in planning projects.
The public input process began in March with two full days of meetings facilitated by the town’s Pittsburgh-based consultant, Urban Design Associates. Four previous virtual public meetings were held in April and May of 2021, to refine the proposed designs.
The next vital component involves an update on the process, including the integration of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers preliminary flood mitigation recommendations and solicitation of additional public input, Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said in a press release Friday.
“Despite the obstacles of the 2020 pandemic, the united Riverhead Town Board has made unprecedented progress towards the creation of the Riverhead town square, which will be the centerpiece of a fully revitalized, thriving downtown Riverhead,” Aguiar said.
The town was awarded an $800,000 Empire State Development grant in 2019 to help it establish a town square in the heart of the central business district that town officials had been discussing.
The town square was identified as one of five key economic development projects in Riverhead’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative Round Four grant application. Riverhead was a Long Island finalist in the competition for the $10 million grant award in 2019, 2018 and 2016. One $10 million DRI grant is awarded in each of the state’s 10 regions. Round Five was postponed last year due to the pandemic. The town is applying for the $10 million grant again this year and the progress it’s made since the $800,00 award in 2019 will enhance its standing among competitors in the region, according to Riverhead Community Development Administrator Dawn Thomas.
Riverhead has purchased three buildings on East Main Street for the creation of the town square and plans to raze two of them — 117 and 121 E. Main St. — to create the space that will connect Main Street to the Peconic Riverfront, a prime objective of the town square. Town officials are currently in discussions with state historic preservation officials about the demolition of the long-vacant blighted building at 117 E. Main St., which was designated as a “contributing resource” in the Main Street Historic District, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012.
The third building — 127 E. Main St. — will be renovated and likely expanded in partnership with a private developer. The building on the west side of the proposed town square has been purchased by the Long Island Science Center, which plans to create its new home there.
With the services of Urban Design Associates, the town also created a pattern book to guide the design of future development on Main Street.
Earlier this month the town board hired an economic development consultant to provide technical assistance with three projects, including the town square.
“The town square will transform the downtown business district into a thriving regional hub offering an attractive venue for people to live, work and play in Riverhead,” Aguiar said.
The supervisor urged public participation in the upcoming virtual meeting.
“As the design process advances to the preliminary design phase, more public input is critical to ensure when the town square is developed, its creation fully recognizes the needs and desires of our community,” Aguiar said.
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