Senate passes measure to return Armory, property to Riverhead

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The town may soon be acquiring the State Armory building on Route 58.

The state Senate has approved a bill that would transfer ownership of the former state Armory building on Route 58 to Riverhead Town, which may use it as a new headquarters for the town’s police department and justice court.

The bill still needs approval in the state Assembly.

The Armory has been vacant since the New York Army National Guard’s 133rd Quartermaster Company was relocated to a new facility in Farmingdale that consolidates many Army National Guard units.

“Riverhead Town’s repurposing of the armory site will enable the Town of Riverhead Police Department and Justice Court to be relocated, and with it [have] the ability to better serve and protect the public and administer justice,” said Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), the bill’s sponsor.

Riverhead Town originally owned the armory and the 5.7 acre property it sits on but sold it to the state in 1953 for $500. That agreement included what’s called a reverter clause that stated that the land could go back to the town if it ever ceased being used as an armory and the town wanted it.

The town has for several years considered building or leasing new space for its police and courts, both of which are located in the same building now, and both of which are said to have severe space shortages.

The town will need to renovate the Armory before it can use it, and officials have yet to get estimates on how much that will cost.

The building reportedly had lead contamination in the basement, which was used as a shooting range, but Riverhead Councilman John Dunleavy said recently that this contamination has been cleaned up.

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