Can Gov. Paterson help Riverhead get the armory?

Town officials are hoping to move the Riverhead police department and justice court into the State Armory building on Route 58, if they can acquire the property free from the state. National Guard soliders will soon no longer be housed in the building.

A decision may be coming soon on whether Riverhead will acquire the state armory building on Route 58, according to State Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson).

Mr. LaValle said he wrote Governor Paterson this week and also spoke with him, seeking his assistance in getting the building turned over to the town.

The procedure for disposing of surplus state property is handled through the Commissioner of General Services, John Egan, who was appointed by the governor. Mr. LaValle said he has had many conversations with Mr. Egan about turning the armory over to Riverhead, and Mr. Egan seems to support the idea.

The building is being declared surplus by the state Division of Military and Naval Affairs, which is planning to close all armories on Long Island next year in favor of a centralized Armed Forces Reserve Center at Republic Airport in Farmingdale,

Built in 1957, the Riverhead armory is home to the 133rd Quartermaster Company of the New York Army National Guard.

Riverhead Town officials are hoping to use the building to house the police department and justice court. Doing so would free up space in the existing police headquarters on Howell Avenue so that other town offices could be relocated to that building, officials say.

Mr. LaValle said he hopes to get the building turned over to the town at no cost, since the town gave the property to the state in 1953 for a nominal fee of $500.

“The Town of Riverhead is eager to secure and use this important community asset,” the senator wrote in his letter to the governor. “I would appreciate your assistance in facilitating this transfer of property.”

The basement of the building is believed to be contaminated with lead because it had been used as a shooting range, according to Mr. LaValle. He said the cost of any cleanup of the contamination would have to be bourne by the town if it were given the building.

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