Demolition began Tuesday on the former Weeping Willow motel on West Main Street in Riverhead.
Riverhead Highway Superintendent George “Gio” Woodson said he expects the building be completely torn down within the next few days.
The bulk of Tuesday morning was spent digging up asphalt in the parking lot. Asbestos was removed from the property this spring.
Riverhead Town bought the Weeping Willow, built in 1953, for $1.25 million in 2009 using Community Preservation Fund money. The town is expected to use a $500,000 state grant to replace it with public space and access to the Peconic River.
The move comes as part of a larger plan to create a greenbelt along the protected river, which runs from Brookhaven National Laboratory to downtown Riverhead.
Past motel owners had run into trouble with authorities due to the property’s aged septic system, which at times leaked sewage into the river, as well as criminal activities by patrons.