Retiring highway department employee Eddie Reeve with the Town Board at its Jan. 18 meeting. Photo: Alek Lewis

The Riverhead Town Board honored longtime highway department employee and labor crew leader Eddie Reeve on his retirement during its meeting last night.

Reeve was presented a proclamation from the board for his nearly 32-year tenure as an employee of the town.

“Eddie was the master of his craft and a real role model for the younger members of the highway department,” Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said. “In addition to being dependable, knowledgeable and having the ability to fix just about anything that was mechanical, he was an outstanding plow driver. Yes, and they do really exist and it is an art,” she joked.

Council Member Tim Hubbard read the proclamation celebrating Reeve’s commitment to public service. “Eddie has always been extremely dependable and always going above and beyond for the mission of the highway department, making it a fitting tribute that in 2005, he was the recipient of the employee of the quarter award,” he said.

“I’d like to thank everybody for putting up with me all these years, to Mike [Zaleski], friends out there and family,” Reeve said to the crowd in the boardroom, which included highway crew members. “I’ve spent almost half my life here at this, inside the highway yard, so it’s been a long time coming.”

Retiring highway department employee Eddie Reeve, center, with family members and Highway Superintendent Mike Zaleski at the Jan. 18 Town Board meeting, where Reeve was honored for his nearly 32 years of service to the town. Photo: Alek Lewis

Also during the meeting, the Town Board promoted Construction Equipment Operator Richard Bates to fill Reeve’s vacant position as the highway labor crew leader.

During the meeting, the Town Board also:

  • Scheduled a public hearing on a new local law to make odd-even day watering restrictions mandatory from April 15 through Sept. 15 each year, in an effort to conserve outdoor water use during times of peak demand. Users would be subject to penalties if they are found in violation. The resolution setting a public hearing was adopted with an amendment to the proposed law initially included in the Town Board’s resolution packet. The amendment allows an individual or entity with an installed water/lawn sprinkler system that cannot be set to accommodate the odd-even schedule to apply for and obtain a waiver that allows them to limit the number of days for watering instead. The hearing is scheduled for Feb. 7 at 2 p.m..

MORE COVERAGE: Riverhead looks to make odd-even watering restrictions mandatory April to September

  • Authorized the town’s Community Development Department to apply for federal funding for downtown projects through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant program. The RAISE grant program goes towards investments in “road, rail, transit and port projects,” according to the U.S. DOT’s website. The town is applying for funding for three projects: the creation of transit oriented development at the Long Island Rail Road station, construction of the town square project and the construction of pedestrian walkways “linking the tourist venues on East and West Main Street to downtown.” Community Development Director Dawn Thomas said that this year will be the fourth time the town has applied for the grant award program, which was previously known as TIGER and BUILD. The Town Board also authorized a professional services contract with economist Martin Cantor to create a cost-benefit analysis for the RAISE grant application for an amount not to exceed $5,000, which will be paid out of Community Development Block Grant funding the town received in 2019.
  • Authorized the town’s information technology department to purchase and install fiber optic cables in the new Town Hall on Second Street. The town earlier this month closed on the $20 million purchase of the property formerly owned by Peconic Bay Medical Center, which used the largest building as the site of the hospital’s administrative offices. Town officials said they will start making improvements to the three-story building for occupancy by town employees in about three months.

MORE COVERAGE: Riverhead Town completes purchase of Second Street property from Peconic Bay Medical Center

  • Adopted an amendment to the town’s zoning code to allow indoor and outdoor sports and recreational uses and facilities as-of-right in the Planned Industrial Park district, which is located in the industrial core of the Calverton Enterprise Park. Previously, outdoor recreational uses were only permitted by special permit. The amendment also removes the restriction that accessory uses not only be used by the employees, tenants and business invitees to the industrial park, and that such retail sales are not limited to certain items. The area where retail sales are allowed is limited to no more than 5% of the gross floor area of the permitted use, not to exceed 1,500-square-feet, whichever is less.
  • Approved a contract with its comprehensive plan update consultants, BFJ Planning, to do the initial environmental assessment and a review on the town’s proposed local law that would regulate battery energy storage systems within the town.

MORE COVERAGE: Moving forward with battery storage code, Riverhead hires consultant to complete environmental assessment form for $10,000

  • Created a transfer of development rights committee to advise the Town Board and its comprehensive plan update consultants on how to improve the town’s TDR program. Board members have identified the town’s TDR program as a top priority in its comprehensive plan update, primarily because the program has languished since its implementation following the 2003 comprehensive plan. In Riverhead, TDR’s allows developers to purchase development rights to preserve agricultural lands, in exchange for building more dense developments than are allowed as-of-right in other areas of the town. A transfer of development rights sub-committee was made in 2016 before the town decided to update its comprehensive plan, but it was dissolved in 2019 after the Town Board resolution creating the committee was not renewed. The new TDR committee will be comprised of nine people: six members representing either the town’s agricultural and farmland preservation communities (Phil Schmitt, Mark Zaweski, Richard Wines, Matt Pendleton, Kareem Massoud and Eve Kaplan), one member of the Long Island Farm Bureau (Rob Carpenter), one member from Peconic Land Trust (Jessie Marcus, or other designee), and one member of the builder/development community (Mitch Pally or other designee).
  • Authorized the planning department to post a required notice in the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Environmental News Bulletin for the State Environmental Quality Review Act review of the site plan for a five-story, mixed-use building at 203-213 East Main Street. Planner Greg Bergman told the board last week that the required notices were not published a few years ago when the environmental review of the project began, and the resolution allows the planning department to correct the record.

MORE COVERAGE: Town Board presented revised plans for large Main Street apartment complex

  • Appointed Sarah Burgess, who has been serving as a provisional appointment in the position of justice court director since July 2021, to the permanent position as justice court director.
  • Approved the special event applications of the African American Educational & Cultural Festival’s concert series at Grangebel Park (July 15, rain date July 16) and the East End Arts & Humanities Council’s Summer Soiree (July 21, no rain date).

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Alek Lewis is a lifelong Riverhead resident and a 2021 graduate of Stony Brook University’s School of Communication and Journalism. Previously, he served as news editor of Stony Brook’s student newspaper, The Statesman, and was a member of the campus’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Email: alek@riverheadlocal.com