Riverhead Town to acquire Second Street firehouse

01/22/2011 10:00 AM |

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Riverhead Town in now in contract to acquire the Second Street firehouse, which the Riverhead Fire District no longer uses since it built a new headquarters on Roanoke Avenue.

Riverhead Town is now in contract to acquire the unused Second Street firehouse in a land swap with the Riverhead Fire District, according to town Supervisor Sean Walter, who is pushing a plan is to demolish the building and use the space as parking for downtown businesses.
In particular, he’s hoping the added parking will benefit a multiplex movie theater he’s been trying to lure downtown.

Other Town Board members had a variety of opinions on the subject. Councilman John Dunleavy is opposed to knocking down the building and Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said it should be done only as a last resort, if parking is not available elsewhere.
Riverhead firefighters stopped using the Second Street building after the district built a new headquarters on Roanoke Avenue.

Town officials have tried to keep details of the movie theater plan under wraps until some paperwork is signed, but Mr. Walter said he’s hoping to be able to announce something soon and feels the availability of additional parking at the firehouse property could help move a potential development deal forward.

“It’s about an acre of property and could provide 125 to 150 parking stalls for downtown,” Mr. Walter said. “The theater would need about 300 to 400 stalls, depending on the size of the theater, and there are about 225 parking spaces behind the theater and across the street.”

The town will acquire the firehouse in exchange for water district property on Route 58, near Stotzky Park. Firefighters have used that land for years as a training grounds and as the site of the department’s annual motorized drill competition.

“We’re hoping to have this wrapped up soon,” Mr. Walter said of the land swap.

Initially, the town hoped to convince the Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance to move into the former firehouse, but ambulance officials opposed that plan, saying Second Street is not a good, location for an ambulance barn given its distance from the Route 58 artery. Ambulance officials have been hoping the town will allow them to expand their existing headquarters on Osborn Avenue.

The fire department has vacated the Second Street building completely, according to fire district commissioner Mark Conklin, although the town police department has been using it for storage of a rescue boat.

“We need to see if we’re getting a movie theater first before we knock that building down,” Ms. Giglio said. “And even if we do, it’s going to take time to approve it, so we can use the firehouse for something else in the interim. I Think we should take that building down as a last resort if we can’t find parking anywhere else. But if it’s something that helps get a theater here, take it down.”

“We never, never spoke about taking it down,” Mr. Dunleavy also said, adding that he wouldn’t support razing the building for parking.

“I think it’s a historic building,” he said. “I could never vote for knocking it down.”

Mr. Dunleavy noted that although he think it’s historic, te firehouse, a red brick structure that was pieced together in sections over decades, is not officially designated as an historic building.

Councilman Jim Wooten said he’d have no problem knocking the building down for parking, because the building “has problems and is not an historic building.” But he said that while downtown needs parking, he doesn’t think downtown Main Street is the right spot for a multiplex because a 14-screen theater will require more parking spaces that downtown can provide.

Councilman George Gabrielsen said he doesn’t think the additional parking is needed now, but that if it were needed to attract a movie theater, he’d support demolition of the firehouse.

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24 Comment

  • I hope that the building is demolished carefully. I think that some of the architectural elements are valuable ( eg the cupola).

  • Seems like they could find something less usefull to just completely demolish for parking. The building is a brick building, why not sell it as a mechanic garage or something that would use the facility. Wouldn’t it make more sense to by some crappier buldings or houses or VACANT lots just to make a parkibng lot. I don’t get it…..but hey it’s Riverhead.

  • Another brilliant idea from our Stupidvisor…………….. sigh

  • Yep, paved paradise, put up a parking lot. What ever happened to History? Kind of glad I left LI. Don;’t think I’d ever want to live there again. More space in lower Manhattan then there is on the East End, now.

  • They should consider remodeling and lease or rent the space for offices, money into the coffers of Riverhead. There is enough parking behind the old Swezey’s Store and the river. Besides, it may even help some of the smaller businesses downtown. :-)

  • The parking problem on Main Street has been solved…there are no more businesses other then a few eating establishments and Griffing Hardware and Barth’s Drug Store remaining. If it were not for the Culinary School the current municipal lot would be virtually empty. The Second Street Fire House should be used as a community facility, meeting rooms, soup kitchen, lunch program, food pantry, class rooms for East End Arts Council, Chamber of Commerce office, BID office, Post Office Annex, Police substation. Pick two or three.
    What is the vision from Town Hall ? Demolish the building !
    Barry D. Barth

  • Think about moving the Police Dept. to the 2nd st. fire house ?
    Re-model the building instead of tearing it down. It would be a welcome addition to the area? ( look at Suffolk County National Bank )
    2nd street used to be a beautiful area many years ago. Bring back some of that Old Riverhead Charm !
    A move like this would free up much needed space in the Town Hall area, 2nd st. is closer to main st.,
    closer to Roanoke Ave. ( direct road to Rt.58 ), closer to the schools , polish town and the courts.


  • The Town owns the building that Riverhead Ambulance uses. The Ambulance has been talking for years about an expansion and the Town has repeatedly said no due to cost. Why are they even giving them the option. Grow a set and tell them “your new building with more garage and office space as well as room for training and meetings will now be on 2nd Street.”

  • Are you kidding me, demolish such a historic building for parking? Unbelievable how short sighted this administration is and how easily they turn their back on the history of the Town of Riverhead. It should be used as a museum for the history of the men and woman that have spent countless hours volunteering their time to make the citizens of Riverhead that much safer.

  • What a no-vision, stupefying idea!

  • Tear Down should be considered only if reuse and recycling are not feasible.

    There are so many alternatives.
    Conduct an open discussion similar to a SEQRA EIS

    Don’t expect the Town Supervisor / Board to do all the thinking.
    Isn’t there a Riverhead Town Planning Department?

  • How about creating a Peconic County Center?

  • What’s the matter Benja, not enough news in Southold so you’re trolling in Riverhead’s business?

  • Another short-sighted venture by the town. Save the building and put it to municipal use: whether the police dept. or any other dept. can use it, that has to be decided. But the architectural style is in keeping with our historic center. We tear down and regret what is lost. Parking for a movie house that is the best the Supervisor and his minions can do. Brookhaven may be corrupt, but Riverhead is stupid.

  • Thats true..move the ambulance volunteers who do close to 3000 calls a year into a run down building on 2nd street. Maybe if they do less calls like a little over 1000, they can move into an unnecessarily large building up the street….

  • What a shame. Such a lovely building to be razed. There should at least be some community forums so the supervisor & co can hear the PUBLIC’S input before making a unilateral decision like this. And if there isn’t enough parking as is now for a 14 seat megaplex, why not scaling that back to 8-10 screens? There would be plenty of parking avail. to sustain that size complex without having to sacrifice this nice building which could support many uses. I like Barry’s ideas about putting multiple things in there. If you have a soup kitchen in there, there would also be public bathrooms during the day so the people don’t have to urinate all over the place like they were doing at the train station/soup kitchen. But coupling that use with police substation, community center etc would keep everything in check and nice and tidy. GOOD IDEA , BARRY! Too bad there isn’t similar leadership and vision from our elected representatives.

  • Congratulations on being a restauranteur and reaching a dream! Dreams take courage and passion…I wish you success and happiness. See you soon!

  • hello

  • Good Luck .. . your going to need it… that shopping center does not do well…. Push for old driving range to be transformed to sports field complex with lighting and you will see your biz boom then!

  • good luck. would like to see an online menu.

  • No activity in weeks. What’s up? Something’s not right. march23

  • it would be nice if he paid his employees at his deli as well

  • To Unsatisfyed Cunsumer,

    Sorry to hear that he cheats his employees as well. I would spread the word that not only is he not honest and a cheat, but he expects others to build his business and then screws them as well. He brings a new meaning to DEAD BEAT!


    An Honest Son