Downtown needs teamwork
Thank you for covering the June 1 special meeting of iloveriverhead in last week’s issue (“Patchogue officials share downtown success story with Riverhead residents”) and for your reporting on key points raised by reporter Jennifer Gustavson.
Ms. Gustavson asked me after the meeting what stood out in my mind most about what Patchogue Village has done that I would like to see for downtown Riverhead. I answered her that what I’d like most is to have more artists living and working downtown, which Patchogue was able to get with their ArtSpace and other workforce housing projects. Apparently, Riverhead had a shot at the ArtSpace project, but it went to Patchogue. Maybe there will be other chances?
I also said I was impressed with the downtown Patchogue YMCA. It is an absolutely awesome building serving the community year-round with recreational offerings. More than greenspaces and farmers markets and atriums and playgrounds, our downtown needs a year-round indoor recreational facility. We’ve been messing around with this opportunity for years, and it’s time to get it done in downtown Riverhead. Our Patchogue guests said that it’s been incredible for their downtown. Maybe there’s a way to put it right smack in the middle of town where those large vacant buildings stand. Why not?
One other thing I was impressed to hear was how Patchogue Village’s mayor and trustees work well together as a team to get things done. Our Patchogue Village guests weren’t even sure which political party their fellow trustees are affiliated with! They all ran not so much under the traditional Democrat or Republican ticket, but under a Patchogue First ticket.
Here in Riverhead, there is such bad blood between the two major parties that when either party is voted in, they tend to undo, dismiss or tear apart what the other has done. Round and round we go with this destructive and repellent cycle. Ultimately it’s a disservice to the people of Riverhead. We need our leadership to be part of an ongoing effort, not irrelevant to the progress that is inevitable.
Raze empty stores for more parking
The supervisor keeps talking about the large number of empty stores downtown. First, looking at these empty locations, they all have the same real estate sign on them. It must be a very inactive outfit, by not having tenants all these years.
The country is in a downturn. Has the rental price dropped along with the downturn? To me it looks like the landlords don’t want to rent. If they can afford to leave these stores empty, pay the taxes and leave the lights on in them, they must not need the money. The town should give them a time limit, get it rented within one year or it gets demolished. Then they can rent it to the Parking District.
The row of stores including the former Woolworth store would be good parking for a movie theater and Atlantis Aquarium.
The former Sears group of stores would add greatly to downtown parking. The old auto parts store would benefit that part of Main Street. The big one would be the old Swezey’s to the former West Marine building. That lot would help all the stores fighting for survival in downtown. The plus side — it gives a large parking lot on the riverfront.
This area can be used for fairs and other events. The funds used to buy this property can be the same as what’s used for open space.