This week in Riverhead History

The photo on the cover of the Dec. 3, 1981 issue of the Riverhead News-Review.

The following stories were excerpted from Riverhead News-Review issues published five, 10, 15, 20 and 30 years ago this week:

30 years ago …

Officials, commuters seek answers from LIRR

Local officials and commuters met Nov. 30, 1981 with representatives of the Long Island Railroad at Brasby’s Restaurant in what was billed as a forum on East End railroad service, but discussion of the discontinued LIRR bus service from Greenport to Babylon dominated much of the conversation, according to an article in that week’s Riverhead News-Review.

Robert Lehmann of the North Fork Commuter’s Association criticized the railroad’s replacement that summer of morning rush hour buses with two push-pull commuter trains, only one of which left from Greenport.

Mr. Lehman said the 6:01 a.m. Greenport train could not be classified as commuter service since it arrived in Manhattan at 9:01 a.m. The bus it replaced left Greenport at 5:38 a.m. and arrived in New York at 8:38 a.m.

Postscript: I fear there will never be a time we’re not writing about the need for more public transportation on the East End.

Walter J. Flanagan dies at 57

Walter J. Flanagan, Riverhead tax receiver since 1977 and widely considered one of Riverhead’s most popular politicians of his day, died Nov. 29, 1981 during a trip to New York City.

Mr. Flanagan had driven a friend’s daughter and grandchild back to their home in Queens when moments after saying goodbye he was found slumped over the steering wheel of the vehicle dead of a heart attack.

Longtime deputy tax receiver Dottie Jermusyk told the News-Review that Mr. Flanagan, a resident of Wading River, had left the office two days earlier saying “I feel terrific.”

“He was a sweetheart,” she said. “He was the best boss I ever had.”

20 years ago …

Nine hole course proposed

The developer who proposed building 400 condominium units, a 240-bed skilled nursing facility and a nine-hole golf course on 82 acres in Calverton recently submitted a plan put just a golf course there, we wrote .

The developer had planned to call his development “Calverton lifecare,” but received opposition from environmental groups concerned with the project’s location to Canoe Lake in the Peconic River corridor and the pine barrens.

Postscript: The site is the current home of Calverton Links golf course.

15 years ago …

A surge for Suffolk County National Bank

What’s up at Suffolk Bancorp? Answer: Earnings and stock prices, we reported in the Dec. 5, 1996 issue of The Suffolk Times.

Suffolk Bancorp’s earnings per share for the first three quarters of 1996 were up by 27 percent over the same point in 1995. The company’s stock rose $5 per share in November 1996 to $39.25.

Postscript: The bank is currently fighting a delisting from Nasdaq. Its stock price fell below $9 this month.

Calverton farmland seized

After years of protest Calverton farmer Dan Donahue lost his fight to hold onto 3.89 acres of farmland at the intersection of Riley and Edwards avenues on Dec. 3, 1996 after the Riverhead Town Board voted unanimously to seize the land by right of eminent domain.

The Town said the move was to build a drainage basin on the site to improve drainage at the intersection, which was prone to flooding. The town said the triangular intersection would also be squared off.

Postscript: The sump has been built on the property of Mr. Donahue, who has since passed away. The intersection is, however, still triangular.

10 years ago …

Anthrax hoax at trooper barracks

A New Jersey man was arrested on Nov. 30, 2001 for allegedly sending anthrax hoax letters to several locations, including the state police barracks on Flanders Road, according to a story in that week’s Riverhead News-Review.

An analysis of the letters showed no trace of anthrax.

School almost dismissed

The Riverhead Charter School survived a close call in December 2001 after Riverhead Town officials issued an “order to vacate” the school’s Route 25 facility because of alleged building violations. The town ended up not closing the school after an attorney for the school proved the violations had been remedied.

Postscript: Now in its 10th year, the school remains open in the same Route 25 building.

5 years ago …

E. coli started here: Outbreak traced to Riverhead Taco Bell

An outbreak of E. coli bacteria that led to 11 people being hospitalized and the shutting down of four Taco Bell restaurants in Suffolk County had its origins at the Taco Bell on Route 58 and Harrison Avenue, we reported in the Dec. 7, 2006 issue of the Riverhead News-Review.

“This started [Dec. 1, 2006] with a concern from a woman from the Riverhead area concerned about her son who was sick,” a Suffolk County spokesperson told the News-Review.

State grant for ice rink

A member item grant of $200,000 has been given to Riverhead Town by State Senator Ken LaValle that will enable the town to advance on plans for an ice skating rink, we reported Dec. 7, 2006.

Grangebel Park in downtown Riverhead and Stotsky Park in Polish Town were being considered as sites for the new rink, we reported.

Postscript: That money was later redirected to build a bike path around EPCAL. A new plan to build an ice rink downtown has since developed.