A ‘new’ public parking lot for downtown Riverhead

TIM GANNON PHOTO | A chain link fence currently blocks the parking lot behind the former Chase branch on East Main Street.

Downtown Riverhead is on the verge of getting some more parking spaces.

The Town Board is expected to approve a resolution Tuesday authorizing Supervisor Sean Walter to sign an agreement with the owner of The Riverhead Project restaurant, which is under construction, that would remove chain-link fences blocking a parking lot that runs behind the restaurant and a neighboring strip of stores.

The lot stretches between Maple and Union avenues, which run parallel to each other, on the north side of East Main Street.

It has been fenced off on both sides ever since the Chase bank building, which now houses the restaurant, on the corner of Maple and East Main Street closed about two years ago.

The lot is part of the former bank property.

“This will open up parking for East Main Street,” Councilman John Dunleavy said. “All those stores there never had parking.”

He said the lot will add about 50 parking stalls.

The bank building is currently being renovated into The Riverhead Project restaurant by Dennis McDermott, who previously owned the Frisky Oyster in Greenport, and is expected to open soon.

Mr. McDermott, who is leasing the property, has expressed a willingness to open the lot up to the public at-large, and not just restaurant customers.

The resolution before the Town Board at Tuesday’s meeting calls for the parking to be sublet to the town for five years, commencing July 1, 2011 and ending on Dec. 31, 2015. The sub-lease also has an option that would allow the town to either renew the lease for five more years or to purchase the property.

The proposed agreement would require the town to pay $5,000 for 2011 and $5,000 plus an increase commensurate with the Consumer Price Index increase starting on July 1, 2012 and continuing in subsequent years.

The town also would be required to repave and re-stripe the parking lot and to maintain it at its own cost.

[email protected]