The long planned Weeping Willow Park will officially open Friday in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 1 p.m., Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter announced.
The park sits on the site of the former Weeping Willow Motel on West Main Street, which had been there for 58 years until the town purchased the property in 2009 for $1.25 million to transform the half-acre site into a park. The demolition of the building was delayed until 2011 because asbestos had to be removed, and earlier this year, the opening was delayed further by vandals driving on the grass.
In addition to creating a park with a canoe and kayak launching area, the removal of the motel also had benefits, Mr. Walter said.
“The project has removed a blighting influence in the downtown Riverhead business district and eliminated the significant discharge of wastewater and runoff from the site into the Peconic River,” he said.
Cornell Cooperative Extension provided picnic tables, trash receptacles and signage to the park through its “Creating Healthy Places in Suffolk County” grant awarded by the New York State Department of Health, according to Susan Wilk, Cornell’s Creating Healthy Places in Suffolk County Coordinator.
The town purchased the property using money from the Community Preservation Fund, which comes from a voter-approved two-percent real estate transfer tax.
The town also received a $500,000 state Environmental Protection Fund grant for the project in 2007.