03/09/14 7:00am
03/09/2014 7:00 AM
Cindy Clifford (from left), Diane Tucci, Debbie Slevin and Megan Heckman sharing a piece of apple crumble pie at the Riverhead Diner and Grill before ordering their breakfast Monday morning. (Barbaraellen Koch Photo)

Cindy Clifford (from left) and Diane Tucci of Riverhead, Debbie Slevin of Hampton Bays and Megan Heckman of Eastport came up with the idea for the Apron Strings Project while having breakfast one morning in Riverhead. (Barbaraellen Koch Photo)

The team of East End women behind the very unique Apron Strings Project will host auditions for the production March 21-22 in Riverhead. (more…)

03/02/14 1:00pm
03/02/2014 1:00 PM
The corner of Roanoke Avenue and East Main Street downtown. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

The corner of Roanoke Avenue and East Main Street downtown. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

Sixty-nine percent of people say they eat out when they are in downtown Riverhead and 42 percent say they walk along the river.

Those were among the results of a Downtown Riverhead Revitalization Survey to which 812 people responded last fall as part of a study of the downtown area. The survey was conducted in conjunction with a $610,000 Brownfi elds Area Opportunity (BOA) grant the town received from New York State to explore ways to improve traffi c and redevelop a section of Main Street stretching from West Main Street near Forge Road to East Main Street near Fairway Avenue.

The Riverhead Town Board discussed the study at its Thursday work session with representatives from consulting fi rm Nelson Pope and Voorhis and Sustainable Long Island, which are working together on the study.

“This input will help defi ne a vision statement for the study area and provide input for redevelopment scenarios,” said Amy Engel, executive director of Sustainable Long Island.

The study includes a recommendation to make Peconic Avenue a north-only road leading into downtown Riverhead.

In addition to eating and walking along the river, the survey, delivered mostly online, listed a number of other choices people could make in completing the sentence, “When in downtown Riverhead , I usually …” Those options included going shopping, selected by 39 percent, according to Ms. Engel, attending outdoor events (38 percent), going to a pub or tavern, visiting attractions and visiting family or friends (28 percent each) and attending live music or theater (22 percent).

When asked what they wished there were more of in downtown Riverhead, the respondents’ top answer was “unique shops,” at 65 percent, followed by cafes or coffee shops (54 percent), entertainment (50 percent), restaurants (43 percent), family-friendly activities (41 percent) and better sidewalks and paths (37 percent).

A footbridge over the Peconic River, something Southampton Town officials are working on for Riverside, was mentioned by 26 percent of the respondents.

Thirty-fi ve percent said they usually spend between $20 and $50 when they’re in the downtown area, while 30 percent spent between $50 and $100 and 16 percent spent more than $100.

And what do they spend that money on? Meals was the top answer, at 86 percent, followed by snacks or beverages at 48 percent, merchandise, at 46 percent, and admissions, at 26 percent.

So just who are these 812 survey respondents? Fifty-three percent were residents of Riverhead hamlet. Of the total, 22 percent said they are in Riverhead every day and 20 percent said they are in Riverhead about once a week, Ms. Engel said. Forty-eight percent of respondents are between 35 and 54 years old; 40 percent were older than 55.

The BOA grant survey also looked at census information from River-head and neighboring areas.

That data revealed a median household income of $50,824 for 2013 in the Riverhead Census Designation Place, which runs roughly from Osborn Avenue and Mill Road on the west to County Road 105 on the east.

People within what the survey called a “primary shopping area” — those within a 15-minute drive of downtown Riverhead — had a median household income of $73,440 for 2013. Those within a “secondary shopping area” — a 30-minute drive, but also including all of Southold and Shelter Island towns — had a 2013 median income of $79,587.

“I think Riverhead has a lower median income now for a different reason than it did in the past,” Supervisor Sean Walter said. “Now, I think the median income is low because we have a large senior citizen population and they are on a fi xed income.”

The BOA study also identified some types of businesses that the Riverhead area needs, including specialty food stores, book and music stores, furniture stores, auto parts stores and fl orists.

“Riverhead is unique, so the traditional retail gap analysis of the 15- and 30-minute drive time may not tell the whole picture,” consultant Charles Voorhis said. “One of the reasons spending is high is because you have Route 58.”

Mr. Voorhis said Route 58 provides things customers “need” while downtown has the opportunity to provide things costumers “want.”

Offi cials said town plans to hold the fi rst of two open house forums on the BOA study later this month to get more feedback from the public. The consultants hope to have a second public forum in the fall to release their recommendations.

tgannon@timesreview.com

02/19/14 4:00pm
02/19/2014 4:00 PM
Pickersgill in Riverhead

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | BID management association president Ray Pickersgill in downtown Riverhead.

The Riverhead Town Board is planning to vote at its meeting tonight to petition the Business Improvement District Management Association to hire its current president, Robert James Salon co-owner Ray Pickersgill, as executive director, for a salary of no more than $6,000 for 2104.

Supervisor Sean Walter says he proposed the measure in light of how much time Mr. Pickersgill — currently serving as the BIDMA president — has put into revitalizing downtown during his four years as BID president, which is an unsalaried position.

Mr. Walter said the money would come from the BID’s $96,500 budget, which the Town Board is also voting to approve tonight. He believes there is enough money in that budget — up from last year’s $81,600 budget — to fund the position.

“Ray has done so much work for the BID at the expense of his own business, and there’s money in the BID that would allow this,” Mr. Walter said. ”I think it’s time for the Town Board to recognize his sacrifice with more than just a proclamation.”

The supervisor said Mr. Pickersgill’s efforts as BIDMA president have brought thousands of people to downtown Riverhead through events like the recent indoor Farmers Market, the weekly Cruise Night car shows in the summer, and the annual cardboard boat races.

The Town Board is officially the governing body of the BID, but the seven-member BID management association runs the day-to-day business of the BID.

Mr. Pickersgill, who would have to give up his BIDMA seat, was uncertain whether he wants to keep that seat or take the executive director post, which is not a voting position. The BIDMA would also have to vote to create the position.

“I have mixed emotions,” Mr. Pickersgill said in an interview. “If I’m not the president, will I still have the control I have now to get things done?”

He said he wanted to talk to the executive director of the BID in Patchogue to gauge his experiences.

The BID has had a paid executive director in the past, but currently has no paid staff. Mr. Pickersgill said the board saved about $30,000 a few years ago by eliminating its secretary and its office, but he said he took up some of those responsibilities himself.

The BID is a taxing district comprised of 322 properties in the downtown Riverhead area. Its functions include capital improvements, holding events and trying to bring people to the downtown area.

02/12/14 6:25am
02/12/2014 6:25 AM

Update, 1:15 p.m.: East Main Street and Pulaski Street are both re-opened.

Original story: Parts of downtown will be closed this morning as highway department crews clear excess snow on the roads in preparation for further snowfall tomorrow.

Highway Superintendent Gio Woodson said East Main Street will be closed from Roanoke Avenue to McDermott Avenue, and Pulaski Street will be closed from Osborn Avenue to Marcy Avenue.

Mr. Woodson said the closures will start about 7:30 a.m. and last until about noon.

The National Weather Service is predicting that anywhere from four to eight inches of snow will hit early Thursday morning, affecting tomorrow morning’s commute. A winter storm watch is in effect starting at midnight Wednesday through 6 a.m. Friday.