05/20/13 1:38pm
05/20/2013 1:38 PM
Pickersgill's Robert James salon

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO| Downtown Riverhead looking west from the second floor above Robert James Salon on East Main Street.

I read John Finnegan’s column about his experience trying to site his zip line in downtown Riverhead.

I thought the column was nasty and unnecessary. It reminded me of two truths learned while growing up. One, never be a cry baby. Two, as my father would say, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Mr.Finnegan ran his idea by a group of businesses downtown and the Town Board, the idea seemed to falter as quick as it was proposed.

Let’s deal in a few facts:

Mr. Finnegan has never built or run a zip line.

Mr. Finnegan’s company was just formed, has no funds, has not done a dollar’s worth of business and is trying to raise money online to support his idea.

The zip line as-proposed would run the lenth of the boardwalk downtown and completely compromise the waterfront. It would be a huge, potential liability, costing the town more in increased insurance premiums.

The zip line would strain what is fast becomming a heavily trafficked parking lot, and in return Riverhead would receive — if he is successful —$37,000 a year in total revenue.

This, when according to all the parking studies, each spot is worth $100,000 dollars to downtown businesses. Many downtown visitors and residents have expressed that screaming zip liners overhead is not the experience they are looking for when they stroll the riverfront.

Can you think of any waterfront towns with zip lines running over them?

As businesses downtown, we met with Mr. Finnegan and shared our concerns. We kept an open mind. We tried to be positive and gave him good suggestions on other places for it in the town.

He told us the only place he would consider is downtown. When he saw the Town Board and the businesses had a lot of quetions he could not answer, he decided to make sarcastic comments about our town. He displayed pictures of empty stores, dumpsters and boarded-up windows.

Yes, Mr. Finnegan, we know we use dumpsters downtown and we are working on coming up with a better system, which we have already done on the other side of Main Street.

Yes, we know we have some empty stores, but it is also hard to find tenants to fill 12,000- to 24,000-square-foot storefronts. Believe me, I have tried.

You mentioned Dee Muma, Ray Dickhoff, Anthony Coates and myself. You implied the business community and us do not know what’s good for downtown. Mr. Finnegan, we make our living here. We employ a lot of people here. I have my entire life savings invested here.

And, you know what? There is no other place I would rather be. I am sure the others feel the same.

We volunteer here. We work here. And we are commited to make this town grow and prosper. We aren’t where we want to be yet, but we aren’t where we used to be either. Something called a recession got in our way, then a storm called Sandy.

You are a guy from out of town with a dream, but no money or experience. Forgive me, but Riverhead has seen it’s share of snakeoil salesmen over the years. When someone comes with an idea now, we check them out. After all, it affects everyone.

We did not kick you out of town. We tried to give you alternatives. But instead, you kick us on the way out of town. To me that shows what kind of neighbor you would have been. Your angry letter was a turnoff for me and an insult to the town I have come to love.

Ray Pickersgill is the owner of Robert James Salon and did not write this column on behalf of the parking district or business district.

04/23/13 2:45pm
04/23/2013 2:45 PM
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Workers clean out the Knu Style-N-Temple barber shop on East Main Street Tuesday morning.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Workers clean out Knu Style-N-Temple on East Main Street Tuesday.

An East Main Street barber shop is being shut down after getting evicted from its space, law enforcement personnel said at the scene Tuesday morning.

A manager at the store declined to comment.

Store owner Charlie Green didn’t want to talk about the circumstances around the eviction, but said he was trying to take the move in stride.

“God has his way of moving things, making things move,” Mr. Green said. “Everything happens for a reason.”

A pile of chairs, decorations, and potted plants was stacked outside the store Tuesday morning, as workers loaded the supplies into a moving truck and nearby van.

Knu Style N Temple had moved to the Woolworth building location last November.

The store was on Peconic Avenue for the previous 11 years, and was on Old Quogue Road in Riverside for five years before that, owner Charlie Green previously told the News-Review

Plans are in the works to renovate the recently sold Woolworth building for apartments and retail, including a gym.

Mr. Green said he wasn’t sure whether the barber shop would reopen in a new location.

“It’s up in the air,” he said. “Right now everything is in God’s hands.”


03/05/13 11:04am
03/05/2013 11:04 AM
Suffolk Theater in Riverhead

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | The Suffolk Theater’s grand re-opening night.

The numbers are in, and the Suffolk Theater sold exactly 609 tickets to Saturday night’s grand opening gala in downtown Riverhead, theater officials told the News-Review Tuesday.

In fact, the “Back to the ’30s” cocktail party, which commemorated the recently renovated and reopened theater’s 1933 opening, was such a success that theater owners Bob and Dianne Castaldi are considering making it an annual anniversary event.

“I’m delighted. The overall feel and enthusiasm we’ve been able to create here is remarkable,” Bob Spiotto, the theater’s executive director, said of the event’s outcome and ticket tallies.

“It will certainly be a event that will go down in history,” he said.

Tickets sold for $125 apiece for the party, which featured 1930s-style decor inside and out, and period costumes for staffers and attendees alike.

While there was plenty of seating, the event at its peak was standing room only, theater officials said.

03/03/13 10:00am
03/03/2013 10:00 AM
KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | The grand ballroom at Saturday's grand re-opening gala.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTOS | The Suffolk Theater’s grand ballroom at Saturday’s grand re-opening gala.

Opening night at the newly restored Suffolk Theatre in downtown Riverhead was a show stopper.

Hundreds packed the venue on Saturday to celebrate the theater’s grand reopening. The “Back to the 30’s” cocktail party marked the first time the theater has been open for business since it screened “Dirty Dancing” in 1987.

“We’re tired, but it feels great,” owner Bob Castaldi said. “This is what we’ve been waiting for.”

The theater first opened in December 1933. More than 80 years later, it remains the last large art deco theater on Long Island, theater officials say.

After buying the theater in 2005, and after litigation with the town halted progress on work, Mr. Castaldi and his wife, Dianne, have spent the last three years restoring the theatre to its former glory. Most of the fixtures and detailing are true to the original building.

Massapequa resident Jim Frost took notice. He recalled coming to the theater as a young boy. On grand opening night — a night two swiveling spotlights shot light back and forth off the clouds, and Main Street was lined with vintage cars —  he took his wife, Mimi, to enjoy the celebration and reminisce.

“It’s wonderful,” Frost said. “We bought tickets right away. I haven’t been this excited about an event in a long time.”

There was no stone left unturned, right down to the ragtime music gracing the stage. The party came to life with the help of Vince Giordano’s band, The Night Hawks. The ensemble won a 2012 best compilation soundtrack Grammy for its work on HBO’s prohibition-era series Boardwalk Empire.

Party guests indulged in the era. They dressed for the occasion and were sure to hit the dance floor.

“This has been something I’ve been talking about since I was 10,” explained Erin McKenna, whose mother has volunteered during the restoration. Ms. McKenna now lives in New York City but made a special trip to support the theater.

Many believe the theater is going to help the long-beleaguered downtown area start attracting much more people and businesses.

“It’s finally here,” Ms. McKenna said. “This is so important for Riverhead.”

The grand opening gala officially ended about9 p.m., but not many noticed. The party continued well into the night, as DJ Aly Di Nas kept guests dancing at the after party that featured signature cocktails.

In the upcoming weeks and months, the Suffolk Theatre will showcase a variety of classic movies, hold live concerts and dance parties and even a couple of magic shows.

To check out the full list of upcoming events, log on to www.suffolktheater.com

02/24/13 7:53am
02/24/2013 7:53 AM

A traffic stop on East Main Street led to the arrest of two men on drug charges Saturday night, Riverhead Town Police said in a press release

David Brown, 37, of Flanders and Michael Bambrick, 25, of Riverhead were found to be in possession of a narcotic — police did not disclose the type of drug — and drug paraphernalia, police said.

The men were charged with three counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance, criminal possession of drug paraphernalia and criminal possession of marijuana, police said.

Both men were transported to police headquarters and held overnight for arraignment, police said.

02/22/13 1:40pm
02/22/2013 1:40 PM
downtown Riverhead cleaned up

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Highway crews downtown about noon Friday.

The Riverhead highway department partially closed a section of downtown Riverhead’s East Main Street Friday to clear away big piles of snow that had remained along the road after this month’s monster blizzard.

“I wanted to get all the neighborhoods open before I shifted my crews to downtown,” said Riverhead Highway Superintendent George (Gio) Woodson. “This way, when people come to town, they have somewhere to park. It helps out the store owners.”

The work started in the morning and was wrapped up by about 1:15 p.m. Friday, when the road reopened to traffic.

East Main Street had one lane closed while the crews cleared the snow from the side of the other lane.


02/19/13 11:00am
02/19/2013 11:00 AM

LONG ISLAND AQUARIUM PHOTO | Jelly, a North American river otter, gave birth to four pups this weekend.

The Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead closes during most overnight hours — but nature doesn’t stop.

That was apparent Saturday morning, when staffers discovered four newborn North American river otters in the Otter Falls exhibit, which opened in 2008.

The pups were born to the aquarium’s river otter couple, Peanut Butter, the male, and Jelly, the female. Officials say the pups are healthy, and are being kept in a secluded area — away from the public’s eye — with their mother as they nurse, sleep and grow.

“While it’s still very early, they all seem to be doing well and Jelly is being a fabulous mother as expected,” aquarium officials said in a release. “The otter pups and mom are inside in the holding areas of the exhibit while the male, PB, is still on exhibit.”

The pups won’t be visible to the public until they start moving on their own, which will take about a month. They’ll nurse for four months.

In the meantime, the aquarium released photos of the newborns.

LONG ISLAND AQUARIUM CENTER PHOTO | The four river otter pups born this weekend.

From the aquarium:

The playful North American river otter (Lontra canadensis) is equally at home in the water as it is on land. Once abundant in U. S. and Canadian rivers, lakes, and coastal areas, the North American river otter can today be found in parts of Canada, the Northwest, upper Great Lakes area, New England, and Atlantic and Gulf Coast states. 

Members of the weasel family, river otters enjoy sliding down muddy and snowy hills, bouncing objects on their paws, playing tag, and wrestling.

02/15/13 11:00am
02/15/2013 11:00 AM
Woolworth cops

Riverhead police officers Brian Clements and Chris Parkin in front of the Woolworth building Friday.

Downtown Riverhead’s former Woolworth building is changing hands today.

Woolworth Revitalization LLC’s managing partner, Michael Butler of Sag Harbor, told the News-Review Thursday that the $2.2 million closing is scheduled for Friday morning in NYC.

And he hopes to begin renovations on the 25,000-square-foot space in the next month.

“We’re going to be doing a big refurbishment of the building, including new roofs and new electric service,” Mr. Butler said. “The Woolworth’s side hasn’t been used for 15 or 20 years now and how we re-do the other side will really depend on the new tenants.”

Woolworth went out of business in 1997, and the building has been empty since then. It was purchased for about $4 million in 2006 by the Manhattan-based Apollo Real Estate Advisors investment group when that company proposed a $500 million downtown revitalization project that since fell apart.

Mr. Butler, who has been involved in urban revitalization projects in New York City, said his company’s purchase of the building is evidence of the long-beleaguered downtown area’s growing value.

“I think Riverhead is on the ups,” he said. “We wouldn’t have bought the building if it wasn’t. I think it’s going to be a nice place to live and the more people that we get living downtown, the better. The town did a great job revitalizing the waterfront. There’s already some yoga, some new restaurants – the Suffolk Theater is going to be opening next door – so it’s going to be great.”

About 20 apartments are planned for the building’s upstairs, which would be a mix of mostly studio and one-bedroom apartments, as well as some two-bedroom apartments, Mr. Butler said.

He sees the new apartments as an ideal place for young people who are trying to get their lives started on the North Fork.

“It’s going to be a great place for the younger generation of young professionals that don’t want to live in a basement,” he said in an interview Thursday. “And if they have a car there’s plenty of parking in the back.”

The building will be able to fit between one and five retail tenants.

“It’s probably going to be restaurant and stores, but it’s hard to tell at this point,” Mr. Butler said. “It’s a great space for entertainment-related things because it’s got huge, huge ceilings.”

The high ceilings make it an ideal space for a food market or for indoor recreation purposes, he said.

He hopes to begin renovations of the downstairs in a month, though a time frame is uncertain

The closing comes more than a week after the Riverhead Industrial Development Agency approved tiered tax breaks for the project, which require Mr. Butler reach construction thresholds before certain abatements kick in.

In addition to the purchase of the Woolworth’s building, more downtown developments are already in the works, the News-Review has learned.

Lucky Liquor is slated to open next to Griffing Hardware with one upstairs apartment on West Main Street, health supplement supply franchise, called Herbalife, planned for a storefront just to the west of the new liquor store.