This week in Riverhead history: Horton Avenue, 30 years ago

Riverhead Town Horton Avenue
NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | A home on Osborne Avenue tht Riverhead Town purchased and demolished due to flooding in the area.

The following stories were excerpted from Riverhead News-Review issues published five, 15, 20, 25 and 30 years ago this week:

30 years ago …

Town aids flood prone Osborne/Horton area

Using over $300,000 in federal grants, Riverhead Town has quietly began a program to relocate homeowners on Horton and Osborn avenues near Middle Road to an area less prone to flooding.

“This is a natural drainage area, it floods all the time,” Riverhead Community Development Director Bob Scheiner told the News-Review in its Nov. 26, 1981 edition. “What we want to do is relocate everybody within that area to better housing. Once we’ve done that we will knock down the remaining structures.”

The program covered homes within 750 feet of Middle Road on Horton and within 600 feet on Osborn.

For owner-occupants of houses within the area, the town offered two types of deals. If the owner desired and his or her house could stand it, the town offered to move the entire house to a parcel located on 10.7 acres near Osborn Avenue. That property was purchased with $51,000 in HUD money. For houses that couldn’t be moved, homeowners were offered a deal to swap their parcel with the town for one on the 10.7 acre property.

Postscript: If this story sounds eerily familiar, that’s likely because residents of that area are facing a similar situation today.

Police dog nabs jailbird

A 48-hour manhunt ended on Nov. 23, 1981, when a police dog found a man who had escaped from Suffolk County jail in Riverside and wound up in a wooded area near Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Clifford Burgess, then 24 years old, had escaped with another inmate during a prison yard scuffle, when the two men hopped a 15-foot fence topped with barbed wire. The other man, Joseph St. Clair, was captured within 20 minutes of escape, but Mr. Burgess held out for two full days despite the combined efforts of 200 policemen from several law enforcement agencies.

Burgess was being held on charges of rape, robbery, kidnapping and sexual abuse.

He was caught by deputy sheriff Angelo Petrocelli, and Suffolk County canine officer Vincent Rakoszy and his dog Shep.

Postscript: Mr. Burgess was released from prison earlier this year after serving nearly 30 years, according to New York State Department of Corrections records.

25 years ago …

Riverhead Schools: There’s no room at the Inn

The Riverhead School District’s space committee issued a report stating that proposed development in the area will be too much for the district to bear, according to the Nov. 27, 1986 issue of the Riverhead-News Review.

According to the report, nearly 3,300 new homes — single-family residences, condos and townhouses — were planned for or being built at the time in Riverhead. The report included a recommendation for the district to sell Aquebogue and Roanoke Avenue elementary schools and combine the two student populations into a new, larger building.

“If the population of Roanoke Avenue is not combined with that of Aquebogue school in a new facility, one or two portables probably will be needed by next year, according to the report,” the article stated.

The only two schools the report stated could handle the enrollment increase were the high school and middle school.

20 years ago …

Final budget cuts jobs and rearranges Town Hall

The Riverhead Town Board approved its $16.9 million budget for 1992, the 11th under then-Supervisor Joe Janoski, according to the Nov. 28, 1991 issue of the Riverhead News-Review.

In order to keep the tax rate increase below 2 percent, the town eliminated a stenographer position in the town clerk’s office and also cut a fire marshal position, a custodial post and one automotive equipment operator at the municipal garage.

The tax rate then was $23.017 per $1,000 of assessed value.

Postscript: The town’s budget for 2012 is $51.6 million, having more than tripled in 20 years.

15 years ago …

A Knick settles in Riverhead

Former Knicks guard Dean Meminger moved to Riverhead to work as a counselor at a substance abuse program, according to a profile in the Nov. 28, 1996 Riverhead News-Review.

“It’s quiet, peaceful and tranquil,” Mr. Meminger said of why he chose to move to Riverhead. “As I get a little older I like this. I had a lot of the hustle-bustle of the city.”

Mr. Meminger played on the 1973 Knicks championship squad and later battled substance abuse problems of his own.

Postscript: Mr. Meminger was badly injured in a 2009 fire police suspected was caused by a crack pipe.

Stores to teens: No thanks

A group of Riverhead High students organized a boycott of three Route 58 stores — Waldbaum’s, Rite Aid and The Wall — after the stores banned the students during lunchtime hours.

Store managers told the News-Review that the students were banned due to an increase in shoplifting and loitering during lunchtime.

“This is clearly age discrimination,” said Riverhead student Rashad Robinson. “I feel that store owners think they can just walk all over teens because they feel we do not have a voice.”

Postscript: Check out all the cool stuff Rashad’s up to now!

5 years ago …

IDA abatement for college

The Riverhead IDA approved a tax abatement that paved the way for Suffolk Community College to open up its Main Street culinary arts school, according to an article in the Nov. 29. 2006 Riverhead News-Review.

The abatement, which was reportedly to cost the town $105,000 in tax revenues over seven years, was awarded to property owner Ron Parr against the wishes of then-Supervisor Phil Cardinale.

“I’m in an awkward position to complain because I’m grateful to the county for coming to Main Street,” Mr. Cardinale said. “On the other hand, who is logically better able to endure the revenue loss — the area you’re supposed to be helping, namely the urban renewal area, or the county as a whole?”

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