Garden plans back on for downtown

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Laurie Nigro (left) and Amy Davidson hope to build a community garden near the intersection of Griffing Avenue and West Main Street

A proposed community garden on West Main Street in downtown Riverhead is back on the Town Board’s radar.

A public hearing on using land at the intersection of Griffing Avenue and Main Street for the garden is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 28, at 2:15 p.m. The Town Board schedule the public hearing during its meeting Tuesday.

Two Riverhead women, Laurie Nigro and Amy Davidson, began talking about building a community-maintained garden downtown about a year ago. But plans stalled after it was reported that a local veterans group had already claimed the site where the women had hoped to establish the garden. That parcel was thought to be the perfect spot since it would also serve as the entrance to the recently renovated Grangebel Park. But town tax assessor Paul Leszczynski said the plot had already been promised to vets for a memorial. The trouble was he couldn’t remember which group.

Several local veterans group were contacted, but after a few months, no organization has stepped forward to claim the land.
“Nobody has any recollection that this was donated,” Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said at last Thursday’s Town Board work session.

The public hearing will ensure that there is not a group laying claim to the property.

“We should have done something a lot sooner,” Mr. Walter said.

Ms. Nigro welcomed the news, and said she hoped to have seeds in the ground by early March.

“Of course, we’re very excited,” she said. “This is the best spot with Grangebel Park being finished. We’d really like to get started in early February. The earlier the better.”

Ms. Nigro and Ms. Davidson envision the garden as a congregating place for community members, especially young mothers, and as a way to tidy up downtown.

Ideally, anyone in the community would be able to sign up for a plot, which he or she would then be responsible for maintaining, the women said. They also envision leaving two plots open, one for children to tend and another to be used for education purposes.

The project has gained support in the community and beyond. Long Island Compost donated 60 cubic yards of compost; the Second Star Foundation made a cash donation; and the Riverhead Business Improvement District board agreed to pay for decorative fencing around the garden.

Those who wish to join the community garden movement can visit the Facebook group River and Roots Community Garden or sign the online petition at

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