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State of Town: Walter says multiplex ‘finally’ coming to Riverhead

02/15/2017 7:24 PM |

Sean Walter

Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter made his seventh annual “State of the Town” address Wednesday night at The Birchwood of Polish Town in Riverhead.

Below is his speech in its entirety:

Good evening. I want to thank you for attending this, my seventh, State of the Town address. I would like to recognize all of my fellow elected officials here tonight. I greatly appreciate your hard work, dedication and loyalty to our Town. I especially want to thank Rotary Club President Beth Hanlon for hosting this event and all those from Riverhead Kiwanis Club and Riverhead Lions Club for attending this event. It is always exciting to be given the opportunity to address so many of Riverhead’s leading voices in a discussion about the future of this great town. As always, the State of the Town message is about where we have been and where we are going as a town and as a people. In each State of the Town we outline our shared agenda, we measure our progress, we state our priorities, we look ahead, and we remember our past. However, first and foremost we stay positive about the town and we stay positive about each other. We don’t let the complaining creep in. Verse 16 in the Letter of Jude reminds us, “[t]hese people are complainers, disgruntled ones who live by their desires; their mouths utter bombast as they fawn over people to gain advantage.” Our job is to cause everyone to work together, regardless of how difficult it may seem in the present moment, for the good of the town and our residents. We as a town need to be thankful in all circumstances.

President Harry S. Truman once said, “[i]t is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” My message tonight runs down two threads. First we must remember the past, we should be proud our successes and must also recognize and learn from our failures. Second, we look to the future and chart a course for 2017. 2016 was an amazingly successful year. It is difficult to comprehend how much we accomplished last year.

The success of this town, as any other town, depends more on its people and their efforts than it does the elected official. In fact, the elected official plays a very small part in the success of the town. I am reminded of John’s Gospel (Chapter 4 verses 36 through 41) [t]he reaper is already receiving his payment and gathering crops for an eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper can rejoice together. For here the saying is verified that one sows and another reaps. I sent you to reap what you have not worked; for others have done the work and you are sharing the fruits of their work. Truly, we as a town are sharing fruits of others labors.

It is important for us to remember that we must “bear one another’s burdens… for if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he is deluding himself. (Galatians 6, 2-4.)

Let’s talk briefly about last year’s State of the Town message. One of the first initiatives that I spoke about last year was to create zoning for First Baptist Church to build the Community Life Center. You’ve heard me say this previously, this facility is a YMCA on steroids. I am happy to report that the Town of Riverhead adopted the zoning last year that will make the Community Life Center a reality.

This has been a decades-long journey for the members of First Baptist Church as it is taken so many twists and turns. I am so proud and humbled by the work of the Coverdales and the Pastor Liggon and every other member of the church. “It is amazing what you can accomplish when you do not care who gets the credit.” First Baptist Church gets the credit for this accomplishment.

I am also happy to report that at least half of the 4/12 initiative that we had spoken about last year was adopted. The Town of Riverhead retroactively imposed term limits of 12 years on the town council and the town supervisor. Unfortunately, the initiative to move the supervisor’s term from two years to four years was overwhelmingly rejected by the residents. But it is with a happy heart that I can report that term limits were passed in the Town of Riverhead.

Now term limits did not pass unanimously. Councilman John Dunleavy voted against the code and is fond of saying I fired him. I guess in some way that is true, but there is something I know that is even more true than that. John and his wife Marie are the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world.” The lives of John and Marie are defined by service and dedication embodied in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God. Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.

The Dunleavy’s eyes have been, as our eyes must be, steering on a fixed point ahead and not changing direction with every short-term twist and turn of the road.

John and Marie’s volunteerism with the Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps, the Lions Club, East End Arts Council, St. Isidore’s Church, the American Legion and their own Homeowners’ Association shows their dedication to the Town we all call home.

Downtown Riverhead has made amazing strides in 2016. Henry Ford once said “[c]oming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” In downtown Riverhead, we have come together and made amazing progress. The progress is evident in the questions we have to answer about things like parking. The success is imminent by working together on projects such as David Gallo’s mixed-use apartment building on the corner of McDermott Avenue and East Main Street. I am happy to report that David Gallo has submitted his commercial site plan and special permit application to construct 117 workforce housing units and 12,000 square feet of new retail space on the corner of McDermott Avenue and East Main Street. This project was discussed after the 2011 general election and it took five years to bring it to fruition. Truly 2016 was an amazingly successful year for Main Street. I am happy to congratulate David Gallo and his partners. I want to especially thank Connie Lassandro for introducing David Gallo to Riverhead.

Right next-door to the David Gallo project is the old or should I say was the old Sears building. Another wonderful thing happened in 2016 — the crumbling Sears building has been demolished to make way for another exciting mixed use project which will incorporate green space and open space flowing to the East End Arts property. I look forward to seeing the site plan submission in 2017.

If these two projects weren’t enough, Conifer has broken ground on West Main Street and is in the process of building 45 new art space apartments. This project brings a creativity and vitality to West Main Street that we have never seen before.

Now if you can believe it, there is one more amazing project that was mentioned in the State of the Town last year that has come to fruition. The approval and the construction of a brand new 20-room boutique hotel known as the Preston House immediately across the street from the Hyatt Hotel. I wish to credit Joe Petrocelli for restoring the historic Preston House.

We are keeping our Division of Land Management busy and I am grateful for all of their hard work. Jeff Murphree, Brad Hammond and their staff have consistently risen to the occasion. Thank you.

It is amazing what can be accomplished when you don’t take the credit. I am truly humbled and inspired by David Gallo, Robert Muchnick, Joe Petrocelli along with the fine men and women of Conifer arts space project all working together to make Main Street a success. Our Main Street will be transformed from a downtown business district long hindered by blight — to a vibrant community filled with young men, women and families who will take back the streets to make it feel safe and keep the shops and stores open and thriving. It is not me nor the Town Board that did this, but insightful visionaries. Truly this town is blessed.

Also discussed last year in the State of the Town message was the coming of a new multiplex movie theater by Regal Cinemas. I am again happy to report that with the help of Councilwoman Jodi Giglio we have amended the zoning and the parking requirements to allow movie theater uses on Route 58. Regal Cinemas Board of Directors voted to sign the lease with Phillips International to finally bring a movie theater to the old Wal-Mart shopping center. The former Wal-Mart building will be torn down and rising up from the rubble will be a beautiful state of the art multiplex. 2016 was an amazing year.

I would be remiss if I did not mention what is on the horizon at Peconic Bay Medical Center. With the help of our planning staff and our Town Attorney, Bob Kozakiewicz, we were able to write new zoning and get a site plan approved in record time for PBMC’s expansion which will include a cardiac catheterization lab. Northwell Health has estimated the cost of this much needed expansion at $43,000,000 and as we all know, not having a facility with this technology nearby could potentially mean the difference between life and death. This is what true collaboration looks like. Our residents will greatly benefit from this project and we look forward to getting it across the finish line.

Moving further east in Jamesport we discussed the old Froelich farm also known as Sharper’s Hill. Suffolk County completed the appraisal of the property in 2016. I am prayerfully optimistic that the owners of Sharper’s Hill will accept the county offer and preserve the property. Preservation of this important parcel insures the rural character of Jamesport forever. I want to thank legislator Al Krupski for making the preservation of property possible.

In fact, the only substantial element proposed in the 2016 State of the Town speech that was not done was the Aquebogue Jamesport corridor study. The study did not take place due solely to the vocal opposition of the Jamesport Civic Association. The Town Board heard the voices of the Jamesport and Aquebogue residents and would like to thank them for participating in this effort.

Finally, the last extremely important measure in the 2016 State of the Town was the finalization of the EPCAL Environmental Impact Statement and the filing of the subdivision map. The Environmental Impact Statement was accepted, we adopted the zoning, the update to the Master Plan and update to the Urban Renewal Plan. The Planning Board held its public hearing for the subdivision and they are poised to adopt the final subdivision map. The only remaining issues are two permits from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the permit from Suffolk County Health Department.

We have had numerous meetings with both the New York State DEC and the Suffolk County Health Department. We do not believe that any of these permits will be an issue. We should obtain these approvals this year. Again a truly amazing 2016.

Over the past seven years I have focused inarguably upon three of the most burdensome issues confronting the Town of Riverhead. Three of the most important things that are going on in the Town of Riverhead. Three things that I ran on in 2009. These same three issues have consistently gotten better and better over the past seven years. First let’s start with the Town’s finances:

I am again happy to report that the Town of Riverhead’s budget is balanced. There is no reliance on one shot revenues. We are paying as we go. In fact we have enough revenue at this point to cover the landfill debt service which was not an easy task. I am grateful for Bill Rothaar, his staff and the Town Board’s support in getting through this arduous process.

I am a firm supporter of the New York State tax cap, but, as I have said again and again the tax cap does not work without attendant mandate relief from the State of New York. Both the State of New York and the County of Suffolk continue to push unfunded mandates down to the towns. New for this year, the State of New York is attempting to change our MS-4 permit for storm-water. These proposed conditions will add significant costs to an already strained budget. The monitoring alone will necessitate the hiring of an additional town engineer.

The real financial strain will be borne by the highway department. The proposed regulations will require that streets in impaired water sheds to be swept monthly. In addition, high priority storm water catch basins be cleaned annually. We have 3,000 catch basins in which at least 1,500 would have to be every year. Currently, we clean 215 catch basins. I know the men and women that work in the Highway Department are second to none, but this burden would require the town to hire up to 8 additional highway workers at an initial cost of $675,000.00 per year in order to comply with these requirements. Further, the highway department will have to purchase an additional vacuum truck ($350,000.00) and an additional street sweeper ($250,000.00). The first year’s budget increase is conservatively estimated at $1,350,000.00. That my friends equates to a 19% tax increase to the Highway Department before we even turn the lights on January 1. We cannot continue to allow the State to push unfunded mandates down on the municipalities, while at the same time tout how the State remains under the tax cap. Town’s don’t print money. I want to thank Drew Dillingham for shedding light on this matter. His insight is invaluable. In 2017, we will fight hard on behalf of our residents to halt this extraordinary unfunded mandate.

Not to be outdone, the County of Suffolk is looking for special state legislation to add $1.00 per 1,000 gallons of municipal water used for all residents that use public water. The money will be used for advanced wastewater treatment systems. While this is a laudable goal that I support, the problem is this fee will amount to a 57% increase in water rates while providing no money for water district improvements. The two biggest problems with this legislation is that residents and businesses in sewer districts who already pay a fee to have their wastewater treated are not exempt from the fee and the money is payable to Suffolk County. The County has a terrible record of managing, or I should say raiding sewer trust funds. The Town can only stay within the tax cap if the State and the County give us a fighting chance.

The Town of Riverhead strives to stay within the tax cap while maintaining all levels of service including maintaining one of the finest police departments in the county. That being said, in 2016 alone the health insurance for the municipal employees went up more than the tax cap allowed. Unfortunately, this is not sustainable.

The State of New York and the County of Suffolk must work with local government to reduce unfunded mandates. If Albany and Hauppauge are unwilling to reduce unfunded mandates then it is the job of the local elected official illuminate them. The County of Suffolk created an unfunded mandate for the Town of Riverhead when they undertook a study entitled Total Maximum Daily Load in Nitrogen in the Peconic Estuary. In response to this study the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation amended our State Elimination Discharge Permit for the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant reducing our overall nitrogen discharge by more than 75%. This was a worthwhile study, however, the new permit required the Town of Riverhead to upgrade the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant to treat to the limits of technology. So a Sewage Treatment Plant that was upgraded as recently as 2003 now had to undergo a $23.5 million upgrade.

The plant upgrade was completed in 2016 and is functioning better then its design standards. I am proud to stand here today and let everyone know that we operate the most technologically advanced wastewater treatment plant in New York State at the present moment. Some of you may know, that during the growing season the effluent from our plant is used to irrigate the Indian Island Golf Course. Interestingly, the water from the plant is cleaner then the groundwater the County previously irrigated the golf course with. This is a first in New York State and will be a model going forward. We are proud of Michael Reichel and Frank Russo as well as all the fine men and women in the Sewer Department that made this plant a reality.

We are also grateful to the County of Suffolk for an $8 million grant awarded to the town which was paid from the Suffolk County Sewer Stabilization Fund. We are also grateful to New York State for the $2 million grant for the golf course irrigation part of this project. Unfortunately, even after these two grants the town had to sell $13.5 million in bonds for the plant upgrade. The bond payment and additional operational costs represents roughly a 400% sewer rent/tax increase to the average business and home owner in the Riverhead Sewer District.

The Town of Riverhead operates a regional sewage treatment plant pulling in sewer waste from Route 58, the neighborhood surrounding downtown Riverhead along with the Suffolk County Sewer District encompassing the entire county jail court complex in Southampton. Additionally, Riverhead also operates the only scavenger waste plant on the East End of Long Island. A regional facility in every sense of the word. The Town of Riverhead seeks to be treated in the same manner Suffolk County Sewer Districts are treated in the five west end towns.

New York State Tax Law provides for the collection of state sales and compensating use tax in the County of Suffolk of one quarter of one percent (.25%) within the territorial limits of the County for distribution to the towns and villages which have established sewer districts to stabilize the assessments or taxes within such districts.

The monies collected by such sales tax are paid over by New York State to Suffolk County for distribution by the County to the duly established town sewer districts located within the territorial limits of Suffolk County.

The problem is, Suffolk County has not promulgated any process or rules or regulations for the administration of the funds collected through the tax law for distribution to town and village sewer districts. Thus, leaving town and village sewer districts unable to provide rate stabilization.

However, if you are in a Suffolk County sewer district in one of the five west end towns, the County has determined that if the annual increase of sewer rent/tax exceeds three percent (3%) the amount above three percent (3%) will be paid out of the sewer stabilization fund.

Due to the construction of the upgraded treatment plant required by the County study published in 2007 the amount necessary to stabilize the assessment or tax of the resident users of the Riverhead Sewer District at the three percent (3%) level for 2016 was $681,828.

In March of 2016, the County paid the Riverhead Sewer District $144,688 from monies collected from the sewer stabilization fund leaving a shortfall of $537,140 to the Town of Riverhead. This shortfall makes it impossible for the town to stabilize the sewer rents/rates.

Based upon the debt service and the increased costs associated with the operation of the upgraded sewage treatment plant, the amount payable by the County to stabilize the 2017 sewer rent/tax at three percent (3%) is $1,466,712.

The County of Suffolk is sitting on at least $100,000,000 that should be used in part to stabilize all town and village sewer treatment facilities. These funds may be used for no other purpose by the County of Suffolk other than to stabilize the assessment and taxes of sewer districts within the County.

Under the standard of due process and equal protection under the law Suffolk County must turn the requested funds over to the Town of Riverhead. Again, all we ask is to be treated equally. It is never a good idea for one municipality to use taxpayer funds to sue another municipality but sometimes, just sometimes it is necessary.

One of the initiatives discussed in 2016 was to obtain the services of CMA to provide a five-year financial management plan for the Town of Riverhead. I am happy to report that the five year financial plan is done. One of the last pressing financial burdens of the Town of Riverhead is balancing the Community Preservation Fund.

I have discussed many times previous town boards overspent our Community Preservation Fund. In 2016, the Town of Riverhead was successful in having the State of New York adopt legislation that enables the Town of Riverhead to refinance our CPF debt with a new repayment period of up to 40 years. This legislation combined with the extension of the CPF program passed by 70% of town voters will enable the Town of Riverhead to refinance the debt so that the principal and interest payments are directly in line with the income we receive through the CPF program. Once this is accomplished in 2017 every single budget line in the Town of Riverhead is balanced.

It was a difficult task to balance the Town of Riverhead’s finances in seven short years. In 2010, the town of Riverhead’s general fund and the CPF fund we’re out of balance each buy 12%. This is the same percentage that the County of Suffolk budgets were out of balance in 2010.It is an amazing thing to stand here tonight and tell you that we have conquered the financial mountain. The town is on firm financial footing and it is time to start building our fund balance.

The second of the most pressing issues the Town of Riverhead has faced over the past several decades was downtown Riverhead. For years downtown Riverhead languished, stores closed, buildings emptied, and you could park almost anywhere.

Fast forward to today and you hear that we are beginning to have a parking problem. Over the past eight years the public private investment in downtown has been astonishing. As recently as last week the State of New York announced another $500,000 to be split equally between David Gallo’s multimillion dollar project and Michael Butler’s innovative 10,000 square foot Riverhead Food Market and Production Center. This comes on the heels of a $250,000 grant from the State Office of Community Renewal to create housing above existing retail stores. Between the State and the County, downtown Riverhead received approximately $10,000,000 in grants and financial assistance. Thank you to Chris Kempner, Joe Maiorana, Frank Messina and Dan Thompson from the Community Development Agency for your commitment to downtown Riverhead.

One the issues I want to discuss is crime. Overall crime is down throughout the town, including our downtown area. The reduction in crime is a direct result of the work our fine men and women do in the Riverhead Police Department. They and we are doing everything possible to reduce crime from community policing to the East End Drug Task Force, but, more is necessary.

Our police department cannot do it alone. One of the things we realized over the past eight years is that in order to make it downtown safe we have to bring people downtown. You see, people who come to downtown to shop and live their lives; going to the bakeries, the delis, the restaurants and the shops doing what it is that normal people do — you see, these folks, these are the eyes, ears and feet on the ground. The largest deterrent of crime that any municipality can undertake.

Before Summerwind was built we had complaints on a regular basis in the back parking lot behind their building all concerning quality of life crimes. Once Summerwind opened their residents would not and did not tolerate that kind of nonsense. Just the presence of Summerwind’s residents pushed the criminal element out. The park along the riverfront became a vibrant, joyful place to visit.

When David Gallo’s building rises up on McDermott Avenue we will also see the positive effects of new residents on East Main Street. The downtown renaissance coupled with aggressive code enforcement and an ever vigilant Riverhead police force will make downtown Riverhead one of the safest neighborhoods in Riverhead town.

With the amazing growth we are about to see on Main Street, it is incumbent upon the town board to move quickly to create new parking lots along East and West Main Streets. Perhaps the most problematic parking issue exists behind Digger O’Dell’s on the west end of town and the Aquarium on the east end of town.

I am happy to report that Councilman Tim Hubbard has been appointed as the new parking district liaison. We have great confidence that Councilman Hubbard along with the Parking District Committee will present a parking plan that will allow the town to continue our revitalization of downtown Riverhead.

It is my belief that by this time next year when these new buildings are constructed and occupied the transformation of downtown will be surreal.

The final frontier, EPCAL. We have spoken about EPCAL in almost every State of the Town message. The subdivision is largely complete. We have several suitors looking to purchase the subdivision map. We are currently negotiating with Suffolk Industrial Corporation on a $45 million acquisition of the 600 developable acres of EPCAL. It is our goal to close on the property in 2017. This one closing will add an estimated $43 million to the general fund. We must use this money wisely. We must take this money and put it in a special debt service reserve account which will be used to pay off the remaining landfill debt. By doing this, it is my sincere belief we will be able to roll back the tax increases of 2015 and 2016. The Town Board cannot spend the $43 million dollars without providing tax relief to the residences and businesses of the Town of Riverhead.

It was at EPCAL, that America launched the greatest fighter jets and airplanes the world has ever seen. It was at Grumman, that inspiration, ingenuity, creativity and originality came together to protect our democracy and freedom. The people of Riverhead, built the machines and gave rise to the ideas and aircraft that touched the Moon and the stars, the skies and the heavens. I am excited to let you know that as Luminati Aerospace ushers in a new chapter in Riverhead’s love affair with aviation as they plan for the first launch of an aircraft taken from concept to design to manufacture all at EPCAL. Exciting times my friends.

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?” Riverhead is an amazing town filled with amazing people as I look around I would like to honor those that have done for others.

As we have discussed, Riverhead designed and operates one of the most technologically advanced Sewage Treatment Plant in New York State under the guidance of Michael Reichel our Sewer District Superintendent. What you may not know is the genius behind irrigating the Indian Island Golf course was borne of Michael Reichel. Doing for others by protecting the environment.

Michael Butler is an unassuming man if you met him on Main Street you wouldn’t know that he was the mastermind behind purchasing East Main Street’s largest and longest vacant structure, the Woolworth Building. As if that renovation was not enough, Mr. Butler is in the process of purchasing the old West Marine Building to bring us the Riverhead Food Hall and Production Center. A trendy upscale food market with a view of the Peconic River. Doing for others by taking a chance on Main Street.

What does a Councilman, a Deacon and a Pastor all have in common? Their love for the Congregational Church of downtown Riverhead. Councilman and former Deacon Wooten working with Pastor Sean Murray and the Town’s Community Development Agency to obtain a $71,000.00 grant from the Lyon Gardner foundation to complete the $500,000.00 transformation of the First Congregational Church of Riverhead. God’s work helping others.

Not to be on outdone, Councilwomen Jodi Giglio and the Alternate Transportation Committee, again, working with the Community Development Agency obtained over $700,000.00 in grants to complete the very popular Veterans Memorial multipurpose trail around EPCAL.

There are many unsung heroes in Town Hall one of them is Annemarie Prudenti. Ms. Prudenti has been the author of at least two pieces of special state legislation that were passed by the State Legislature and signed into law by Governor Cuomo. The latest such piece of legislation allows the town of Riverhead to refinance $42.5 million in debt owed by the Community Preservation Fund. This state statute allows the town to do what it normally could not do. Refinance debt for a longer period of time. The residents of the Town of Riverhead are indebted to Annemarie Prudenti for her service and dedication to this town.

We have gone from sewage treatment to food halls to now one of my favorite subjects — bunker. Over the past several years of town of Riverhead has faced massive fish kills in the Peconic River. Last year the town was able to avert a fish kill through the efforts of several individuals two of which I want to mention here today. The first hero in an effort to avert a fish kill was Jim Gilmore from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Mr. Gilmore worked with the Mid Atlantic Marine Fisheries Council to obtain additional quota to allow the harvest of the bunker before they died. This additional quota enabled the next hero, Mr. William Caldwell to spring into action to harvest the additional quota to avert fish kills in the Peconic River. Mr. Caldwell harvested over 700,000 pounds of live bunker from the Peconic River all right at the doorstep of Corwell Avenue. Mr. Caldwell’s efforts allowed the massive numbers of bunker to move freely up and down the river avoiding a bottleneck that previously trapped and killed the bunker. Without the efforts of both Mr. Gilmore and the muscle of Mr. Caldwell the Peconic River would not have been a pleasant place this past spring.

I want to recognize and commend the men and women of the Riverhead Water District especially Mr. Mark Conklin Water District Superintendent. Mr. Conklin works tirelessly in the Riverhead Water District to give the residents pure clean water. This past year, Long Island was in a severe drought and the Town of Riverhead pumped record amounts of water. During the months of July and August the Water District’s 17 wells ran nonstop setting records which on some days exceeded 20,000,000 gallons of water a day. In fact, total water usage for July and August was more than 900 million gallons—an all-time record. I want to thank Mr. Conklin and the employees of the water district for those tireless hours to ensure that we had good clean water for the residents of Riverhead.

Finally, we must recognize, Superintendent Ray Coyne and Senior Services Director Judy Doll for their efforts in merging the town’s recreation department and senior park department into the Office of Intergenerational Services. This new department will not only provide more services to the seniors of the Town of Riverhead but it will also provide more recreational opportunities to all of the residents of Riverhead. The new Intergenerational Department will be housed in the senior services building on Shadetree Lane in Aquebogue. In addition, we will be opening a new intergenerational center on Columbus Avenue in Stotsky Park. Truly these two individuals have bridged the gap.

I want to take a moment to thank my partners on the Riverhead Town Board, Councilman James Wooten, Councilwoman Jodi Giglio, Councilman Timothy Hubbard and Councilman John Dunleavy.

I also want to recognize our staff who are the lifeblood of the Town. As the elected officials, we set the policy, approve the budget and provide direction. The Town employees carry out that direction and makes things happen. Your hard work is truly appreciated.

I want to thank my staff: Heidi, Jill, Carol and Larry for always standing by me. I am truly blessed by having people of your caliber standing with me.

Finally, I want to thank the members of my family was Zachary, Timothy and Gregory and especially my wife Cathleen for allowing me to serve as Town Supervisor. I could not do the job without the full blessing and support of my family and it is through their love and support and faith that we continue to make this town the greatest town in Suffolk County.

All the glory and honor go to God. I thank the Father for placing me back in this position. I ask that you the residents and business owners of Riverhead pray for me that I may honor God by and through my service to this town.

I am truly grateful for all that we have accomplished together. However, there is still more work to do before Riverhead reaches its full potential. I would like to leave you with one final verse from the book of Isaiah (Isaiah 1:18): “Come Now and Let Us Reason Together.”

Photo: Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter giving his annual ‘State of the Town’ address Wednesday night in Polish Town. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

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