Town grant paves the way for East End Arts Council improvements

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The walkway that leads from the East End Arts Council building to the peconic River will soon be paved thanks to grants secured by Riverhead Town's Community Development department.

For years, jazz musicians, country western performers and classic rock bands would set up their instruments — electric amps and all — on a patch of grass behind the East End Arts Council building for summer concerts. But this year, bands performing in the shows, sponsored by the nonprofit Riverhead Townscape, will have a paved pavilion from which to entertain audiences — thanks to grants secured by the town’s community development department.

The $157,000 project, already under way, includes laying a paved walkway over the dirt path the leads from the East Main Street building all the way to the Peconic River and also over a circular area where musicians will perform.

“The musicians who perform here in the summer really shouldn’t have to stand in dirt,” said council director Pat Snyder. “We have a gorgeous spot. [The walkway] is going to make it much more appealing.”

The town has an additional $30,000 set aside to pay for roof repairs at the arts council’s school building and fund construction of a permanent platform for performers, according to community development director Christine Kempner.

Construction of the walkway, which is being done by Lipsky Enterprises Inc. of Bayport, began earlier this month and is expected to be completed by late May, in time for the arts council’s annual street painting festival and before the summer concert series begins.

The project is being financed partly through a $87,500 grant from the Suffolk County Downtown Revitalization program and partly with unspent funds from grants previously awarded to the town. Once this initial phase of the project is finished, Ms. Kempner said, her department will examine options to build a platform for performers.

“We are going to figure out what kind of budget we have left,” she said.

Community development has already spent about $20,000 in grant money for repairs to the East End Arts Council’s sewer system.

Ms. Snyder said that, once finished, the newly paved space will be much more inviting for the public to stroll through and an aesthetically pleasing addition to the riverfront.

“It’s the green space on Main Street,” she said. “It’s here for the community to enjoy.”

Established in 1972, the nonprofit East End Arts Council occupies the historic Davis-Corwin and Benjamin houses on East Main Street. The council holds art classes and runs galleries and a gift shop in the two mid-19th century buildings and elsewhere on its property.

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