Suffolk County on Tuesday formally closed on the acquisition of a four-acre parcel at the northeast corner of Park Road and Sound Avenue in Riverhead for creation of a memorial park for Sept. 11 victims and emergency responders.
The land was owned by Kenney Barra’s EMB Enterprises and had been proposed for a 28,000-square-foot commercial development in 2003 consisting of stores and a restaurant. That plan ran into opposition from community members and town officials, who rezoned the land to residential uses, only to have that zoning later overturned in court after Mr. Barra sued.
Former county legislator Ed Romaine put in a bill to acquire the land as a park in 2010, and the Legislature approved the $1.28 million acquisition last November, at Mr. Romaine’s last meeting.
Eric Biegler, president of the Sound Park Heights Civic Association in the Reeves Park area, thanked Riverhead Town officials for their help at Tuesday’s meeting.
“I look forward to working with you guys in creating a wonderful park that Riverhead can be extremely proud of,” Mr. Biegler said.
A small 9/11 memorial has already been created at the site in memory of Thomas Kelly, a Reeves Park resident and FDNY member who died in the World Trade Center collapse on Sept. 11, 2001. Park Road is also known as Thomas Kelly Memorial Drive.
Thomas Kelly’s brother Bob, himself a retired New York City fire fighter and Reeves Park resident, has been calling for the creation of the memorial park.
“This land acquisition means so much more than just the purchase of open space,” Bob Kelly told county legislators in November.