This week in Riverhead history: Route 58 Lowe’s plan rejected

Route 58
BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Lowe's is getting ready to open next month on Route 58 in Riverhead, but 10 years ago plans to build a Lowe's on the commercial corridor were rejected.

The following stories were excerpted from News-Review issues published 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 years ago this week:

10 years ago …

A ‘no’ for Lowe’s

Headriver LLC’s application to build a Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse on Route 58 in Riverhead got a thumbs down from the Suffolk County Planning Commission on Dec. 5, 2001, we wrote in the following week’s Riverhead News-Review.

The group was looking to build the store on a 21-acre parcel just north of Kroemer Avenue, we reported.

The planning commission ruled development of a Lowe’s at that time would “prematurely establish a prerogative for intensified commercial development within the Route 58 corridor prior to the enactment of the master plan update for the town.”

Postscript: Ten years later, Super Walmart is going into that same site just north of Kroemer Avenue and Lowe’s is opening up next month just down the street, on the former Suffolk Life parcel.

Feds say OK to save the bay

The Environmental Protection Agency approved the Peconic Estuary Program’s Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan, according to a report in the Dec. 13, 2001 issue.

The plan featured more than 85 actions to the tune of $100 million over 10 years to improve the health of the Peconic estuary. Priority management topics included brown tide, nutrients, habitat and living resources, pathogens, toxic pollutants, and critical lands protection.

Postscript: Ten years later, Peconic Baykeeper Kevin McAllister reported some positive news for the Peconic Estuary in his recently released annual report.

15 years ago …

Rite Aid lifts ban on teenagers

The kids are all right in Rite Aid, but The Wall still refuses to comment. The Route 58 pharmacy has changed its policy of barring Riverhead High School students during school hours, but limits the group to no more than 15 students in the store at the time, we wrote in the Dec. 12, 1996 issue of the Riverhead News-Review.

Two weeks back in “This week in Riverhead history” we wrote about the ban, which several Route 58 stores enacted due to concerns over shoplifting. Riverhead High School students, led by senior Rashad Robinson, had organized a boycott of the stores in response to the ban during school hours.

But the stores reversed the ban after a meeting between store managers, district officials and students.

Postscript: Check out Thursday’s News Review for a Q & A with Mr. Robinson, who 15 years later serves as the Executive Director of

20 years ago …

Janoski on Jetport: It’s war

If Riverhead Town Supervisor Joe Janoski has anything to say about it, there will be no new Jetport in Calverton, read the lead of the page 3 story in the Dec. 12, 1991 issue of The Riverhead News-Review.

At the time, the Federal Aviation Administration had authorized a feasibility study, exploring the possibility of expanding the Grumman airport in Calverton into an international jetport/cargoport.

Such a use of the facility would mean “20,000 jobs and a boost to a sagging Long Island economy,” Long island business officials argued.

Mr. Janoski said local business leaders should instead look to fix small problems in the local economy like mandates on Long Island landfill laws and the Peconic River moratorium that have “destroyed the town of Riverhead.”

Postscript: Twenty years later and the future use of the site, now known as EPCAL, is still a major issue. Just last week, representatives of firms now studying zoning and marketing at EPCAL said no airport, racetrack or casino should be built.

25 years ago …

Handicapped man gets support

Those who believe 21-year-old Peter Waskewicz should be admitted into the Riverhead Fire Department are not giving up the fight, we wrote in the Dec. 11, 1986 issue of the Riverhead News-Review.

Daniel White, a member of the Equal Hose Company of the RFD, had been circulating a petition around the firehouse urging fire commissioners to reverse their decision to keep the hearing impaired young man out of the department.

The district’s board of fire commissioners had earlier that year rejected Mr. Waskewicz’s application to serve in the department, saying his hearing loss would diminish his ability to operate safely in an emergency setting. There also was a question of whether the district could insure a deaf firefighter.

“I think the boy should be given a chance,” Mr. White said, adding that if insurance is the problem the district should get a special policy for him.

Postscript: After two years of battling to serve in the department, Mr. Waskewicz took his fight to the New York State Supreme Court in 1988. He won his case on the grounds that a fire district could not discriminate against certain deaf applicants. By July 1990, nearly five years after he first applied to be a Riverhead volunteer fireman, he was attending firefighter training. He has since left the department and today the 46-year-old Calverton native lives in Asheville, N.C.

30 years ago …

Wading River group fights for new boundary

A group called Citizens for a Unified Wading River is waging a legal battle to alter the school district boundary so the portion of Wading River closest to Wildwood State Park could also be part of the Shoreham-Wading River School District, we reported in the Dec. 10, 1981 issue of the Riverhead News-Review.

That October the group filed briefs with both the Shoreham-Wading River and Riverhead School District requesting the boundary change. The group said that if the request was denied it would petition BOCES and the State Education Department to enact the change. Failing that, the group said it would take the matter to State Supreme Court.

Citizens for a Unified Wading River said the split in school districts had caused an identity crisis for some in the community, who couldn’t participate in all Wading River had to offer since they were residents of the Riverhead School District.

“My young son saw in the paper that they were having an Easter egg hunt in Wading River and he got excited and asked if he could go,” said group member Mrs. Ray Soto. “I had to say no because it was only open to Shoreham-Wading River school district residents. How do you explain that to a child?”

Postscript: Thirty years later, the Shoreham-Wading River School District boundaries remain unchanged near Wildwood.

Legislators nix Shoreham settlement

The county Legislature by a 12 to 5 vote Dec. 10, 1981 rejected a settlement between the county and the Long Island Lighting Company on LILCO’s Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant project, we reported in that week’s Suffolk Times.

In return for concessions by LILCO, the county under the agreement would have dropped most of the contentions it planned to raise on Shoreham safety concerns at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission hearings on granting Shoreham an operating license.

The settlement included a provision that the county would only test two of the nuclear plant’s three safety systems in exchange for LILCO granting the county more local control over regulating the plant.

Critics of the plan said the settlement was just another way for LILCO to “railroad the project through,” while the utility argued the county would have no assurance of getting any of its concerns addressed through the NRC hearing process and would be better served by having more local control.

East End Legislator Greg Blass, normally an opponent of the plant, sided with LILCO’s stance on the issue and was one of the five legislators who voted in favor of the settlement.