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.

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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…)

03/14/15 3:00pm
03/14/2015 3:00 PM
‘Building and Grounds workers were at the Fresh Pond School house Thursday morning doing renovations to the Fresh Pond Schoolhouse. (Credit: Barbarellen Koch)

‘Building and Grounds workers were at the Fresh Pond School house Thursday morning doing renovations to the Fresh Pond Schoolhouse. (Credit: Barbarellen Koch)

Built in 1821, the Fresh Pond Schoolhouse was once one of 15 single-room schoolhouses in Riverhead Town. Boys would sit on one side of the room; girls, on the other side.

The schools were heated by wood stoves, fueled by wood brought inside by the students themselves.

These days, the Fresh Pond Schoolhouse — located on the ground of East End Arts — is in the process of getting a top-to-bottom renovation, soon to be in use by the arts nonprofit as a multi-use building for events such as poetry readings and film presentations. (more…)

12/30/14 1:00pm
12/30/2014 1:00 PM
Ryan Egan (top) and Stephen Tang hang the vinyl tarps at Suffolk County Historical Society on Tuesday. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Ryan Egan (top) and Stephen Tang hang the vinyl tarps at Suffolk County Historical Society on Tuesday. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Entering downtown Riverhead from the east or the west, one can be expected to pass an “anchor property” at each end.

Coming from East Main Street, the Hyatt East End and Long Island Aquarium — both modern buildings which opened in the 21st century — are impossible to miss.

Coming from West Main Street sits the 85-year-old Suffolk County Historical Society building, a piece of both local and national history that has been on the National Register of Historic Places since the mid-1990s.

On Tuesday, the historical society and town announced that a set of banners are going up with the hopes of increasing the nonprofit’s visibility to the public.

“It is our hope that these unique banners will encourage more people to stop in and check out all we have to offer,” said historical society director Kathy Curran. “We believe this will allow us to better serve the public as an educational resource by clearly announcing this site as an historic center.”SCHS rendering

The signs started going up on Tuesday morning. Three vertical banners, measuring 12-feet 8-inches tall by 5-feet 6-inches wide, will spell out ‘Suffolk History Museum’ on each side of the building. In between, inside a pair of brick archways on the east and west sides of the building, two different Hal Fullerton images and two images from the historical society’s archives will be reproduced.

Ms. Curran said the Fullerton images will be Edith Fullerton driving Teddy Roosevelt and a Medford farm. A portrait of Henry Green (a whaler from Sag Harbor) and the Hulbert Flag, one of the earliest United States flags from the 1770s in the SCHS collection, will also be on display.

Though Riverhead Town itself does not have a historical society of its own, SCHS has been in operation since the mid-1880s, first operating out of the office of a Riverhead judge. The West Main Street building was constructed in 1930, where the nonprofit has been centered since.

The banners were made possible with the help of a $250,000 Main Street grant the town received in 2012, the fourth of its kind to come through the New York State Office of Community Renewal. The grant paid for 75 percent of the cost of the banners, which totaled about $10,000.

“Downtown Riverhead is fortunate to have many special educational facilities, including the Long Island Aquarium, The Long Island Science Center and the Suffolk County Historical Society, in such a close proximity,” said Supervisor Sean Walter. “We hope these new banners attract more visitors to the downtown business district.”

Caption: A rendering of new banners and reproduced images at SCHS. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

 

12/28/14 10:00am
12/28/2014 10:00 AM
Judge Griffing's family home on W. Main St. in an undated photo. (Griffing family courtesy photo)

Judge Griffing’s family home on W. Main St. in an undated photo.

Grangebel Park was created in a “different time,” said Riverhead town historian Georgette Case.

It was built in the late 1800s by county Judge Timothy Griffing, who transformed his family’s land along the Peconic River into the park. The Griffing homestead off Main Street overlooked the stately park, which has always been open to the public, Ms. Case said.

Grangebel was likely the first park ever built in Riverhead, she said, and it was designed for a purpose expressly different from that of modern parks, which often have ballfields and soccer pitches and playgrounds. They’re designed for recreation, first and foremost.

From the beginning, however, Grangebel Park has been for relaxing, Ms. Case said. (more…)

10/08/14 2:42pm
10/08/2014 2:42 PM
Michael Butler, managing partner with Woolworth Revitalization, LLC, said Riverhead has "all the components."

Michael Butler, managing partner with Woolworth Revitalization, LLC, said Riverhead has “all the components.” (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Michael Butler and his wife launched an environmentally sustainable eco-lodge in the Costa Rican rainforest 13 years ago, so opening 19 units of affordable housing on East Main Street in Riverhead doesn’t seem quite as daunting.

“That’s why this doesn’t seem as crazy, right?” he said (more…)