Editorial: Police work can do a lot to boost downtown’s prospects

06/07/2012 6:00 AM |

We’re going to clean up this downtown!

That’s been the rallying cry of many Riverhead politicians over the years.

And things certainly are looking good in the business district, from newly occupied buildings to a revamped Grangebel Park to new construction, including the Hyatt East End hotel and the Summerwind apartment and retail complex.

But you don’t normally find Southampton Town politicians running campaigns based on cleaning up Riverside, which many people believe is part of Riverhead. That’s not the type of campaign that gets you elected in Southampton Town, where a majority of residents and politicians are perfectly happy to keep criminals and other undesirable elements as far away as possible from their shores, stores and school districts.

So it was heartening to learn that Southampton Town police conducted an undercover sting operation for prostitution in the area of the Riverside traffic circle Saturday night, which yielded 10 arrests.

The best part of this news is that Southampton Police Chief William Wilson promised more sting operations to come.

This is good news, as the Summerwind project seems to be just months away from opening. Its 52 housing units, when occupied, will result in more foot traffic in downtown Riverhead. More apartment dwellers in this area could help finally bring a supermarket to Main Street and encourage others to move downtown as well.

But no one’s going to want to live within a few hundred feet of an illegal sex trade, nor should anyone stand for such trafficking.

Thankfully the Southampton Police Department is being proactive to help clean up our streets.

Riverhead needs its neighbor’s full cooperation if our politicians and businesspeople are going to succeed in turning downtown around.

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