11/11/12 4:00pm
11/11/2012 4:00 PM

Descendants of Henry H. Preston, a Shelter Island wounded in the Civil War who became the county’s first salaried sheriff in 1903, inspect the newly dedicated monument to him in front of police headquarters after Sunday’s dedication ceremony.

A memorial to Henry H. Preston, a Shelter Islander who was wounded in combat in Civil War, served in many town officers and was elected the first salaried sheriff in Suffolk County in 1903, was dedicated on the green in front of Shelter Island’s police headquarters Sunday afternoon by County Sheriff Vincent F. DeMarco.

The memorial was made from a foundation stone of the old county jail on Griffing Avenue in Riverhead, where Mr. Preston presided. It was torn down years ago. The Sheriff’s Office provided the stone and transported it to the Island to a site that was prepared by inmates from the County Jail.

Preston’s great-great-grandson Arthur Bloom led the family effort to see his ancestor memorialized.

“Like thousands of his fellow soldiers, he was injured during the Civil War and suffered from pain throughout his life,” Mr. DeMarco said. “His service and devotion to his country, in itself, makes him a hero.”

Despite pain and disabilities that resulted from his wound, Preston was appointed Shelter Island’s town constable in 1870. He went on to serve as tax assessor, justice of the peace and town clerk over the course of a career in town service that spanned 29 years from 1870 to 1899.

PB PHOTO | Suffolk County Sherrif Vincent F. DeMarco dedicates a monument in Shelter Island’s Center to his predecessor Henry H. Preston.

In 1903, he became the first salaried sheriff in Suffolk County. Among other achievements, he went on to establish the county’s Probation Department and to serve as a judge of the Court of Sessions.

The ceremony included a color guard from the Sheriff”s Office. Town Supervisor Jim Dougherty offered remarks and Dr. Peter DeSanctis offered the prayer of dedication.

11/01/12 8:00pm
11/01/2012 8:00 PM
Griffing Avenue, Downtown Riverhead, Rosa's Cafe

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The proposed Griffing Avenue tavern would not have a stove or oven to cook food, and would only be serving microwaved food.

The Riverhead Town Board may vote next Wednesday night to reject an application to put a new bar in downtown Riverhead after questions arose about the identity of the applicant and a prior downtown bar run by the applicant’s stepfather.

Rosa’s Cafe, owned by Roberto Marroquin of Coram, had submitted an application for a “tavern” in a rented space on 155 Griffing Avenue, doing business as Michelle’s Cafe.

At the Town Board’s work session Thursday, board members reviewed a draft resolution for next Wednesday’s formal meeting that would reject the Michelle’s Cafe application.

That meeting starts at 2 p.m. in Rivehead Town Hall.

During a Sept. 5 public hearing on the special permit application for the tavern, it was discovered that Mr. Marroquin’s full name is Roberto Carlos Marroquin Tejada, and that his stepfather is Luis Tejada, who ran the Crystal Bar in 2007 in a space next to Digger’s on West Main Street.

There were many incidents that drew police officers to Crystal Bar before it had closed.

An architectural drawing for the Michelle’s Cafe application on Griffing Avenue also listed Luis Tejada as the owner of the business and an application to the state liquor authority listed Luis Tejada as a vice president of the company.

“I’m concerned that he is not a straw man for Mr. Tejada and his Crystal Bar again,” Supervisor Sean Walter said at the time. “We’re already done the Crystal Barn and it was just not good results for the town.

“I have a concern about the Town Board painting too broad a brush here,” said Jonathan Brown, the attorney for Mr. Marroquin, at that hearing. “That the sins, whatever they are, of the father or the stepfather, not become the sins of the son.”

He added, “This is not a bar. This is 30 seats, a cafe, with an accessory use of alcohol, alcohol services. This is intended as a luncheon outfit. This is not the Crystal Bar.”

Another concern town officials had at the public hearing was Mr. Marroquin’s disclosure that they intended to serve only microwaved food at the tavern, and that it would not have a stove or oven for cooking.

Several speakers also raised oppositions to the proposed tavern, raising concerns that intoxicated people could present a danger to nearby employees and stating that downtown doesn’t need another bar.

The draft resolution rejecting the application cites the fact that the business would serve microwaved food and claims the applicant failed to show that the proposed business would not have the type of negative impact on downtown Riverhead that speakers at the Sept. 5 hearing claimed it would.

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10/25/12 11:09am
10/25/2012 11:09 AM

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | A woman was hospitalized Thursday morning after a T-bone accident on Griffing Avenue and Lincoln Street.

A woman suffered minor injuries after the SUV she was driving was struck by a delivery truck at a residential intersection in Riverhead Thursday morning, town police said.

The delivery truck, an International 4700, was traveling north on Griffing Avenue when it T-boned the Ford Edge traveling east on Lincoln Street about 10:10 a.m., police said. There is a stop sign at the intersection on Lincoln Street, though it was unclear if the woman stopped at the sign or continued through without stopping before the accident, police said.

The woman was taken to Peconic Bay Medical Center with non-serious injuries. The driver of the truck was unharmed in the accident. There were no other occupants in the vehicles, police said.

The truck driver, who did not give his name, said he was unable to stop the truck after the SUV drove into the intersection.

“You can’t stop that truck within two feet,” he said. “You need to be decelerating 50, 100 feet before.”

The man said he normally makes deliveries in Smithtown or Miller Place, but was driving the truck on a route to deliver Polar Seltzer bottles to the Stop & Shop on Route 58 to cover for another driver. He said he became lost on the route and was driving north on Griffing Avenue to get back to Route 58.

The driver, who said he himself had been T-boned by a truck while driving a car in the past, said he hoped the victim would be OK.

“It’s a nerve-wracking experience,” he said.

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10/05/12 12:00pm
10/05/2012 12:00 PM
Downtown Riverhead, New York State Supreme Court

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The main Supreme Court building on Griffing Avenue has been covered in scaffolding since September 2011.

Restoration work at the Griffing Avenue courthouse in Riverhead is about to enter its seventh year.

But Suffolk County officials are predicting 2013 will be the last year the historic building in the heart of the county seat’s civil court complex sits as just a construction site.

Gil Anderson, commissioner of the Suffolk County Department of Public Works, which is overseeing the project, said the work is expected to wrap up next summer.

Officials conceded, however, that trying to predict when that job will be finished has been a difficult task.

In August 2011, DPW chief deputy commissioner Jim Peterman told the News-Review that the work, which began in 2007, was expected to be done by the end of this year. In 2008, officials predicted it would be completed by 2010 at the latest.

“Any building, when you open it up, you start finding things you didn’t expect,” Mr. Anderson explained. “A building of that age and that construction is fraught with issues. We continually found different things and different hurdles we had to get over during this job, and that’s why it’s taking so long.”

But Mr. Anderson believes the finish line is within sight.

“Right now, we have all the funding we need and we’re rocking and rolling and this should be it. The third floor is already being used as courts.”

The main state Supreme Court building was built in 1929, according to town historian Georgette Case.

An earlier court building that was constructed on Griffing Avenue in 1855 had later burned down, she said.

The main courthouse building that currently has scaffolding on it was used as an office for the court clerk and for courtrooms, while the court annex, just south of that, was also used for courtrooms, officials said.

Once everything is finished, those uses will continue, although the county plans to move Family Court, which is now housed in rented space on East Main Street, into the Griffing Avenue complex as well.

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Read more about the building and restoration work in this week’s News-Review on newsstands now, or by clicking for the E-Paper.

09/06/12 2:09pm
09/06/2012 2:09 PM
Michelle's Cafe, downtown Riverhead, Griffing Avenue, tavern

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | The potential future home of Michelle’s Cafe on Griffing Avenue in downtown Riverhead.

The Riverhead Town Board has requested the corporate papers of a proposed “tavern”  in downtown Riverhead after questions were raised about the true owner of the business during a public hearing Wednesday in Town Hall.

The new business, called Michelle’s Cafe, is seeking a special permit to operate at 155 Griffing Avenue.

Area business owners and town officials on Wednesday expressed concerns with the cafe plans, in part because the applicant’s stepfather and building owner, Luis Tejada, operated a downtown bar that police said was plagued by violent incidents.

That prior business, the Crystal Bar, was located next to Digger O’Dell’s on West Main Street and lost its liquor license in 2007

Supervisor Sean Walter said Thursday night that he was concerned the applicant, Roberto Marroquin, was a “straw man” for Mr. Tejada to run the planned business.

According to town attorney Robert Kozakiewicz, Mr. Tejada signed as the vice president of the cafe on the business’ certificate, and an architect’s plans list Mr. Tejada as the owner of the building.

The town’s code lists several items to be considered by the Town Board before approving or rejecting an application for a special tavern permit.

Included among those factors are the suitability of the business’ location, adequate parking, proper provisions for waste pickup, and the hours the business would be in operation and whether that would require regulation.

The board will also determine whether the proposed tavern would not “prevent or substantially impair” the use or development of other area properties, would not adversely affect health or safety, and that the hazards or disadvantages for a new tavern would not outweigh advantages.

Nearby business owners said during Wednesday’s public hearing that they worried that drunk patrons would create a safety problem.

The applicant’s lawyer said that Mr. Marroquin, not Mr. Tejada, will be running Michelle’s cafe, adding that the application should be judged “on its own merits.”

“This client is new to the scene and hopes to run a successful business,” said attorney Jonathan Brown. “It’s difficult and seems to me unfair that he is painted with a very broad brush.”

According to Mr. Brown’s testimony during the public hearing, the cafe will focus on food, not alcohol, though he acknowledged the tavern would not have a stove or oven to cook food. The business would serve pre-cooked food heated in a microwave, he said.

The public hearing was left open until Sept 14. for residents to submit written comments.

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