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…)

05/24/14 10:00am
05/24/2014 10:00 AM
Long Island Aquarium Exhibit Artist Eli Fishman shows Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter one of two steel fish sculptures that mark a fish ladder at Grangebel Park. (Courtesy photo)

Long Island Aquarium Exhibit Artist Eli Fishman shows Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter one of two steel fish sculptures that mark a fish ladder at Grangebel Park. (Courtesy photo)

Two steel fish sculptures were unveiled this week at Grangebel Park in Riverhead to commemorate “World Fish Migration Day” today. The sculptures are part of a newly renovated fish ladder by Long Island Aquarium Exhibit artist Eli Fishman.  (more…)

04/22/14 2:00pm
04/22/2014 2:00 PM
The east dam in Grangebel Park (BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO)

The east dam in Grangebel Park (BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO)

It’s about that time of year again.
No, not time to hit the links or start planting your garden.
It’s time for the alewives.
Christopher Paparo, who runs Calverton-based Fish Guy Photos, posted a video over the weekend of the alewives running through Grangebel Park.
“The ‪#‎alewife‬ run is in full swing on Long Island. Took this video this morning in Riverhead. ‪#‎Intova‬” he posted on Facebook.

The fish passage, which allows alewives to migrate back up the Peconic River, was championed by Bob Conklin, a former Riverhead biology teacher.

Mr. Conklin died in December 2010, just three months before the passage — which was about 10 years in the making — was completed. I

The passage replaced an old dam that was built many years ago and was blocking alewives from traveling from the salt water portion of the river to the fresh water part, where they spawn.

In 2012, the project was the subject of an episode of the fishing show ‘Lunkerville.’

Watch the video by clicking here:

04/14/13 7:45am
04/14/2013 7:45 AM

JOHN NEELY PHOTO | A candlelight vigil against gun violence was held in Grangebel Riverfront Park in Riverhead Saturday night.

Calling for federal action against gun violence, a candlelight vigil took place Saturday night at Grangebel Riverfront Park in Riverhead.

The one-hour vigil, themed “We Have Not Forgotten,” was planned by Riverhead Organizing for Action, part of a national nonprofit that advocates for federal policies throughout the country.

It came after several incidents of gun violence that have hit close to home, including the death of Riverhead High School graduate Demitri Hampton, who was gunned down in his cousin’s Flanders home in January.


09/18/12 12:32pm
09/18/2012 12:32 PM
lowes, Route 58, Grangebel Park, downtown Riverhead

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Workers from the Riverhead Lowe’s store on Route 58 spent Tuesday morning doing volunteer work at Grangebel park.

About 10 volunteers from Lowe’s on Route 58 spent their off day Tuesday fixing up Grangebel Park in downtown Riverhead.

The volunteer effort is part of the company’s “Lowe’s Heroes” program, through which a store’s employees undertake volunteer work in communities where the company has a store.

On Tuesday, Lowe’s staffers spread about 200 to 300 bags of pea gravel to refinish the trails that wind through Grangebel, and they applied about 200 to 300 bags of red mulch to areas where the existing mulch had receded, said Doug Wadsworth, the human resources director of the Riverhead store, and the organizer of the volunteer effort.

He’s been organizing local volunteers for about three months, coordinating the team’s efforts with town officials and Lowe’s corporate officials, he said.

“I had met with the town supervisor [Sean Walter] and [town Community Development director Chris Kempner] for a walk-around recently to see how much material we needed and what needed to be done,” he said.

Mr. Walter and other town officials, in turn, presented the volunteers with a proclamation Tuesday morning as a sign of their appreciation.

“When Lowe’s comes into a community, we want to do business, but we also want to be good neighbors,” said Marcus Lewis, the manager of the Route 58 store. “This park was in need of some mulching and some pea gravel restoration to make the park safer, and make it better. It’s a beautiful park, so we thought we would help out by doing some extra things for the community.”

In addition to the Lowe’s employees volunteering their time on their day off, the company also donated all of the materials used in the park restoration, Mr. Lewis said.


11/30/10 7:18pm
11/30/2010 7:18 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The three-acre Grangebel Park, closed late last year for renovations, will likely be open to the public by Christmas Day.

Walking through Riverhead’s renovated Grangebel Park — though the temperature might be frigid this time of year — one can imagine the Montauk daisies, black-eyed Susans and weeping willow trees that will be in full bloom come spring.

A new stage, a rebuilt fish ramp for alewives, and new paths for walking and bicycling all hint at the activity that will surely ebb and flow once again through the scenic downtown park.

The three-acre park, closed late last year for renovations, will likely be open to the public by Christmas Day.

“I think it’s going to be the crown jewel of Riverhead,” said town engineer Ken Testa.

Electricians were hard at work Monday morning installing lamps that Mr. Testa said should be fully functional in about a week. He said only a few finishing touches, such as placing railings along a bridge and the fish passage, are needed before the town can take down the fence that has surrounded the park since it was closed.

Riverhead-based Terry Contracting, which rebuilt the fish passage, made bulkhead repairs as well as aesthetic improvements, finished the fish ramp and spillways last March. Mr. Testa said the entire project was originally expected to be completed by November, but heavy snowfall last winter stalled construction.

The site improvements cost about $1.37 million and the fish passage construction cost about $750,000. Community development director Christine Kempner said over $1 million in federal, state, county and town funding was allocated for the fish passage — including preliminary studies and analysis — and the work came in under budget.

Although exact figures were not available, Mr. Testa estimated that the entire park overhaul cost about $5 million, including renovations made in the 1990s to the western portion of the park, including bulkheading and creation of a pedestrian footbridge.

The paths in the park are gravel over mesh, which Mr. Testa said is more environmentally friendly than asphalt.
“Water can drain through a mesh walkway,” he explained.

Two small islands near the park have not been upgraded due to New York State Department of Environmental Conservation regulations, Mr. Testa said.

The park will be maintained by the town’s buildings and grounds department. Riverhead’s recreation department will oversee concerts and performances on the stage.

Parking will be available east of Peconic Avenue along the north side of the Peconic River, Mr. Testa said. The town will construct a crosswalk on Peconic Avenue ­— as mandated by Suffolk County because it is a county road — to connect the parking lot to the park for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Ray Pickersgill, president of the Riverhead Business Improvement District, said his organization had pledged $8,600 toward construction of the crosswalk.

“We hope it will bring more people downtown,” he said of the park. “It came out beautiful.”

He added that the BID will install holiday lights and other decorations in the park and other sections of the district.

Mr. Pickersgill said the BID will vote at its next meeting on whether or not to donate money every year to replant some of the vegetation that adorned the park in the early 1900s, adding that the board is in favor of doing so.

Grangebel Park was purchased about 120 years ago by wealthy Riverhead attorney Timothy Griffing and was named after his daughters, Grace, Angeline and Mabel.