06/26/15 5:59am
06/26/2015 5:59 AM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | The Peconic River boardwalk that runs along the East Main Street parking lot.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | The Peconic River boardwalk that runs along the East Main Street parking lot.Could

The state of “progress” in downtown Riverhead is often discussed but hard to pin down: crime rears its head now and again, vacant storefronts still dot Main Street and a short drive to the railroad station area — or even the Main Street area — at any time of year can reveal a homeless population living in the shadows.

On the other hand, it would be disingenuous to discount some of the anchor projects that have come to Main Street in recent years and subsequently drawn other businesses and investments to town. (more…)

06/25/15 6:00am
A birds' eye view of downtown Riverhead earlier this week. (Credit: Andrew Lepre)

A birds’ eye view of downtown Riverhead earlier this week. (Credit: Andrew Lepre)

Twenty one years ago, the News-Review reported that there would “definitely be a 751-space, two-story parking structure” created in downtown Riverhead to address a burgeoning traffic problem.

While that traffic problem remains — and in fact, more residents than ever are living downtown, with more residential units in the works — the parking garage remains a dream.

But that didn’t stop a consulting firm from examining the idea at Town Hall recently after giving downtown traffic a grade of “F.”

That proposal, as well as others, were all part of a wider look into developing downtown Riverhead as it continues to grow — from a traffic perspective, a housing perspective and an overall marketing perspective. (more…)

05/16/15 6:00am
05/16/2015 6:00 AM
A Riverhead police officer walks the beat downtown on Monday night. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

A Riverhead police officer walks the beat downtown on Monday night. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Editor’s note: This story was published in Thursday’s paper, before an arrest was made in relation to the downtown robberies.

On Monday morning, Francine Smith was walking past the Suffolk Theater, newly purchased gift in hand. It’s a route along Main Street she’s familiar with, having lived in Riverhead for the past 17 years.

But once the sun sets, she’ll be back inside. She and her husband don’t want to risk going out, she said.

“I wouldn’t come down here at nights, to be honest,” Ms. Smith said. (more…)

05/14/15 8:00am
05/14/2015 8:00 AM

Police1_BE_R

We don’t need another robbery or a similar incident possibly related to gang activity as evidence that downtown Riverhead has a problem with crime. It has plagued the area for years, and it’s worth noting that, unfortunately, downtown Riverhead is not the only place in Suffolk County that could use, for lack of a better phrase, some cleaning up. It’s also worth admitting that crime can never be completely eliminated there or anywhere else.

(more…)

05/14/15 7:19am
Jeffrey Pittman and Rasheed Manuel. (Courtesy RHPD)

Jeffrey Pittman and Rasheed Manuel. (Courtesy RHPD)

In the wake of a rash of crimes downtown over the past week, an East End Drug Task Force bust on Third Street resulted in the arrest of four men and one woman on Wednesday.

Police said “numerous neighborhood complaints about illegal narcotic activity” had been filed, resulting in an investigation and the recovery of heroin, crack and MDMA which were taken yesterday around 4:45 p.m.  (more…)

05/13/15 5:46pm
05/13/2015 5:46 PM

Is Main Street safe? No it is not. There are many factors that lead to this dilemma, just as there are many solutions needed to correct it. Let’s start with the recent rash of armed robberies. Downtown businesses are struggling to begin with, and they work very hard at becoming part of the success story that this town truly needs for its revitalization. Having armed thugs walk into a business and forcibly demand money is an extremely frightening and dangerous situation for any local business owner. Just ask Barth’s Drug Store. There needs to be more police presence downtown – period.  This does not mean simply enlisting one part time police officer to walk around. It means confronting the problem with fully trained professional police officers, properly equipped to handle this growing problem. (more…)

05/13/15 1:27pm
The Guardian Angels are expected to begin recruiting downtown next week, though Town Board members believe their presence will send the wrong message to potential visitors. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

The Guardian Angels are expected to begin recruiting downtown next week, though Town Board members believe their presence will send the wrong message to potential visitors. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Barth’s Pharmacy has stood on East Main Street since 1917 -— and in nearly all that time, no one has robbed the store.

But that changed in the past three years, during which the business has twice been targeted by armed robbers. The most recent incident occurred Friday, when a masked man burst into the store, held a gun to an employee’s neck and took off with an unspecified amount of cash, said owner Barry Barth.

“Nobody was physically hurt and that’s a good thing, but the mental anguish and the fear of having someone coming to your place of business with a handgun to rob you is overwhelming,” Mr. Barth told the News-Review. “We just went through this two years ago. You try to put this behind you and then it rears its ugly head again.” (more…)