04/21/15 3:30pm
04/21/2015 3:30 PM
First responders on scene of the accident in Laurel Tuesday afternoon after a train collided with a tractor. (Credit: Grant Parpan)

First responders on scene of the accident in Laurel Tuesday afternoon after a train collided with a tractor. (Credit: Grant Parpan)

A single-car Long Island Rail Road train collided with a tractor at a farm in Laurel Tuesday afternoon, according to Riverhead Police Lt. David Lessard.  (more…)

08/19/14 4:00pm
08/19/2014 4:00 PM

LIRR riders board an eastbound train out of Riverhead last summer. (Credit: Steve Rossin, file)

Due to construction projects and track repairs, buses will be replacing Long Island Rail Road trains running between Ronkonkoma and Greenport beginning Sept. 2 and ending Nov. 16, the MTA announced.

The buses will replace four weekday trains — two eastbound and two westbound — between the two train stops while ties are replaced and grade crossings are restored.  (more…)

08/12/14 6:17pm
08/12/2014 6:17 PM
The Riverhead Train Station will be leased out to Islandwide Transportation starting next month. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

The Riverhead Train Station will be leased out to Islandwide Transportation starting next month. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

The Long Island Rail Road’s long vacant, 104-year-old Riverhead train station finally has a tenant.

Beginning next month, Islandwide Transportation, a taxi company based in Mastic, will begin operating out of the station as part of a 10-year lease with the Long Island Rail Road.

The move comes as Riverhead Town officials had complained about the lack of maintenance at the station and surrounding grounds.

Supervisor Sean Walter had suggested the town order the LIRR to clean up the station, or else the town would do so with the cost being assessed to the LIRR, as is often done with privately-owned properties that need cleanup.

However, as the Town Board was discussing this at last Thursday’s work session, a group of inmates from the Suffolk County jail’s Labor Assistance Program were cleaning it, according to Kristin MacKay, a spokesperson  for Sheriff Vincent DeMarco.

LIRR spokesman Sal Arena said their own crews also cleaned up the station grounds last Thursday and Friday. He said they were not aware of the Sheriff’s cleanup of the site.

As for Islandwide’s agreement, the waiting room and restrooms inside the 1,500 square foot station will be open to LIRR customers during peak weekday travel hours, from 5:30 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. and from 7 to 8 p.m., according to Mr. Arena.

The Riverhead train station was first opened in 1845 and the current building dates back to 1910.

The LIRR’s parent, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, had issued a request for proposals for the station in 2012 and received three responses, with Islandwide determined to be the best, according to Mr. Arena.

A second cab company and a proposal to locate a café there were the other proposals, which were not identified by name.

The LIRR has a ticket vending machine at the station but closed its ticket office in the early 1972 due to low ridership.

“We hope Islandwide Transportation’s presence at the station will provide an extra convenience for our customers and improve conditions there,” said LIRR President Patrick Nowakowski in a press release. “It’s also a plus that the waiting room and restroom will be reopened, at least during part of the peak travel periods. Riverhead is a resurgent, vibrant community that has worked hard to improve its business district. The LIRR wants to be part of that effort.”

Islandwide will pay the LIRR an escalating annual rent that starts at $19,000 in the first year of the lease and rises annually to reach $24,790 in the tenth year. It will also make any needed repairs at its own expense and be solely responsible for all maintenance associated with the station building and surrounding exterior area, according to the LIRR.

The MTA did about $1 million in renovations to the Railroad Avenue station in the late 1990s and then leased it to the town at no charge in 2002, with a condition that it be occupied by a nonprofit organization. But the town was never able to find a tenant for the station, even when it has offered the building rent free.

11/18/13 4:00pm
11/18/2013 4:00 PM

KATHERINE SCHRODEDER PHOTO | Alan Martinez, third place winner in a “World’s Fastest Shucker” contest, shows off his work at Claudio’s Restaurant.

After the last tasting of wine was sipped and the final oyster was shucked, organizers of the first-ever Taste North Fork festival are hailing the event a success. So successful, in fact, the North Fork Promotion Council is already working toward repeating the event in six months.

On Monday, NFPC president Joan Bischoff said members voted unanimously to bring back the event sometime in March or April following the large spike in business the three-day Veterans Day festival brought to the North Fork.

“The enthusiasm of the North Fork is what is driving this,” Mr. Bischoff said. “We’re going to try to schedule it on a weekend where there is something already going on, like restaurant week. It will be a good way to start off the summer season.”

Taste North Fork was made possible through a portion of a $335,000 “I Love NY” grant, aiming to help promote agritourism on the East End. Since the East End Tourism Alliance, Long Island Wine Council and North Fork Promotion Council unveiled the plan in August the event has received an overwhelming response from local businesses and town officials, organizers said.

“Businesses had anywhere from 20 to 40 percent increases in traffic and sales,” said Brain DeLuca, of East End Tourism Alliance. “We had some vineyards with 60 to 80 percent increases in traffic and sales. Overall it was a tremendous success. The was a lot of collaboration between the businesses.”

Throughout the long weekend more than 50 local wineries, restaurants, hotels and shops offered a full range of activities celebrating local wines and foods across the region.

Participants had the option of hopping on a free shuttle bus provided by Hampton Jitney that ran in a loop between Riverhead and Greenport. There were also feeder buses from the Cross Sound Ferry and Long Island Rail Road. The free ridership was another first on the North Fork.

“We had a lot of ridership,” Mr. DeLuca said. “Over 1,000 people took the jitney. Hopefully this will demonstrate to the county and the state that need to start funding something similar in coming years.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement that he was pleased with the turnout.

“We launched the ‘Taste NY’ campaign earlier this year to highlight the superior products that are grown and produced right here in New York and last weekend’s “Taste North Fork” event marked our latest effort,” he said. “The event was a great success in promoting the local food and beverage products to New Yorkers and visitors, and we will continue to push this ‘buy local’ movement all across the state to support our vibrant agricultural industry.”

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