Playground planned for downtown Riverhead

TIM GANNON PHOTO | The playground is envisioned for the piece of land next to the existing community garden (right).

A small section of land just south of Griffing Avenue on West Main Street received a community garden earlier this year. It’s getting a rebuilt comfort station soon. And in the future, it may also get a new playground.

The proposed playground, which would be the only playground in downtown Riverhead, would be located immediately south of the comfort station, and just west of the community garden.

“There was some interest in putting a playground behind the comfort station and fencing it in,” town engineering department head Ken Testa told the Riverhead Town Board at a board work session Thursday.

Amy Davidson and Laurie Nigro, the residents who spearheaded the community garden, were also the ones to suggest the playground.

“One of our original intentions was getting some kind of playground in conjunction with the community garden,” Ms. Nigro said in an interview Thursday.

“Being a downtown resident, we don’t have any playgrounds in walking distance for the kids, and there’s actually quite a few young families living in downtown now. So Amy and I thought it would be a  big attraction for downtown that would bring families here.

“The aquarium is great, but you can’t do it every day and it costs money, so to have a playground and a place to bring your kids is great.”

The town’s recreation department supervisor, Ray Coyne, has been seeking proposals for various types of playground equipment that would fit in the space, which is about 20 feet by 60 feet, Mr. Testa said.

The project is expected to cost about $20,000, officials said. They hope to use federal Community Development Block Grants to offset the cost.

The town would have to take down a tree that’s growing on the site, Mr. Testa said. The space is sometimes used for parking, although parking isn’t allowed there.

Mr. Testa also suggested making a decorative walkway running between the community garden and the proposed playground.

The small plot of land and garden also are just north of the recently renovated Grangebel Park, which now has a small band shell and new bulkheads.

“Grangebel Park really looks fabulous,” Councilman John Dunleavy said.

“This whole area has really come together nicely,” Supervisor Sean Walter said.

The Lions Club comfort station was renovated and is set to reopen in time for the Country Fair this weekend, Mr. Walter said. It will be opened for the first time in more than 20 years, he said, adding that he wanted to do an opening ceremony for the comfort station but was too busy.

The town was able to get a $60,000 county grant to restore the station earlier this year. The grant was first offered many years ago and never used because it didn’t cover the full cost of the project at the time.

The comfort station was originally donated by the Riverhead Lions Club.

The supervisor also pointed out that flowers have been donated by Bianca Sullivan of Colorful Gardens in Jamesport and are now planted around the community garden. The Town Board gave Ms. Sullivan a proclamation thanking her at its meeting Tuesday.

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